Tag Archives: Corruption

CBC Radio Network Documentary: Guatemala, Los Zetas & Corruption

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Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.

Juan Alberto Ortiz, alleged head of one of the leading drug cartels in Guatemala City is arrested after U.S. DEA operation in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. (Presidencia de la Republica, Guatemala)

Do people fear a brutal drug cartel or its own military?

For two months this year, the army laid siege to the province where the cartel — founded by former Mexican Army special forces soldiers who deserted — has been muscling in on trafficking routes, once controlled by Guatemalan cartels.

The offensive’s now been called down, but the military presence remains — and so do questions about its effectiveness.

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Interviewed by PBS NewsHour: Mexico Drug Cartels Moving In On Guatemala Routes

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Mexican drug cartels are carving out new territory in northern Guatemala, adding another layer of violence and crime to a country with one of the highest murder rates in the hemisphere.

Guatemalan soldiers check a car for at a checkpoint, Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

In December the Guatemalan government declared a two-month state of siege in the rural province of Alta Verapaz, bordering Mexico, in order to crack down on the growing influence of the notorious Mexico-based Los Zetas cartel.

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Mexico’s Drug War Comes To Guatemala

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Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.

Mexican drug traffickers have worked their way south into Guatemala. The Guatemalan army has been trying to beat them back. But some Guatemalans are expressing loyalty to the drug cartels which have provided services – schools, roads, clinics, even security – that the Guatemalan government hasn’t delivered.

Mexico’s war against the drug cartels is spilling south into Guatemala. The cartels are threatening to take over parts of northern Guatemala near the Mexican border.

In response, the Guatemalan government has taken a page from its larger neighbor — and deployed the army to try and push the traffickers out. The government has declared a “state of siege” in one province, called Alta Verapaz, that it said has been overrun by one of Mexico’s most feared cartels.

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Mexico’s Mix Of Politics And Drugs

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A mayoral candidate in Mexico has said publicly what just about every Mexican knows to be true — the drug cartels have thoroughly contaminated Mexican politics. But this candidate is caught on tape.

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Drug Cartels Still In Action

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Mexico’s violent drug cartels didn’t simply pack up and go home when the H1N1flu arrived. In fact, they’re just as active as before. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports that the government has once again stepped up its attempts to beat back the cartels.

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Audio Slideshow: Mexico Kidnapping

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With an escalating war between Mexico’s drug cartels and the government, security is the number one issue as Mexico prepares for midterm elections next year. But adding to fears expressed by many Mexicans is a recent surge in kidnapping with victims from all social classes. Narration and all photos: Lorne Matalon.

Update: In December 2008 the Mexican authorities told the family featured in this slideshow that they’ve positively identified remains found recently in the Mexico City area as those of abducted Silvia Vargas Escaleras.

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The Drug War In Juárez

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The border area between the United States and Mexico has become so violent that the State Department issued a travel alert last month. The warning says, “A war between criminal organizations for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the border. Foreign visitors, including Americans, have been among the victims.” It’s one thing for visitors to avoid the border cities or at least to be alert to their surroundings. It’s another thing for the folks who live there. The World’s Lorne Matalon has our story.

Matalon: I’m walking across a pedestrian bridge from El Paso, Texas into Juárez, Mexico. The two cities are for all intents and purposes one entity with separate governments sharing the same problems. Right now the overriding problem is the influence of the Mexican drug cartels, principally here the Juárez Cartel which is involved in a horrific fight between it, the Juárez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Matalon: Juárez today is a sprawling cauldron of chaos and violence one of the cartels’ preferred routes to “el otro lad,o” the other side, the U.S. The Mexican Army arrived 3 weeks ago after the latest spike in murders included the execution of a police commander who refused to protect the Juárez Cartel. At the same time, the editor of the daily ‘Norte de Ciudad de Juárez’ has pulled his reporters from further cartel investigations after 2 reporters were killed and others threatened. Alfredo Quijano says his paper now only publishes gov’t reports of arrests and deaths.

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Mexico Army Challenged In Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua

Mexican soldiers work in the mountains of Sinaloa burning this marijuana field, part of an eradication program supported by the United States. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

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CULIACAN, Sinaloa–A top boss of the Arellano Felix drug-trafficking cartel is now behind bars in Mexico. The man is a U.S. citizen. He was arrested yesterday following a joint intelligence operation by Mexican and U.S. agencies. American officials are praising Mexico’s determination in going after the traffickers. Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has made it a top national priority. He’s ordered the Mexican Army to spear-head the fight. That means soldiers are heading into drug cartel territory to track down traffickers and destroy illegal crops. The World’s Lorne Matalon was an embedded reporter on one such mission, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

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The following is a transcript;

Matalon: It’s early morning at the Sinaloa military base. Special Forces soldiers are getting their orders.

Matalon: Their Commander says, “Starting at 11, the first group will begin the mission, the second and third will block the entrances and exits.” The Mexican Army’s Special Forces–their faces covered by black balaclavas–are preparing to head out onto the streets of Culiacan, in Sinaloa state, home of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Special Forces recently captured the group’s alleged money-launderer, while the son and brother of the cartel’s leader–Mexico’s most-wanted man–have just been sentenced to jail. The soldiers’ faces are covered because the Sinaloa cartel is killing soldiers, police and informants.

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Press Freedom On Trial

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Mexico is not the most dangerous country for journalists, other nations compete for that dubious distinction. But Mexican reporters do risk their lives when they cover the nation’s drug traffickers. And some of them face intimidation from government officials unhappy with their work. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports on one case in the latter category that could end up before the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Matalon: Even in a country where constraints on press freedom are taken for granted, the case of journalist Lydia Cacho has jolted many Mexicans.

Matalon: Cacho lives in Cancún. Just before Christmas in 2005, she was forced into a car in broad daylight. Though she lives in Cancún, in the state of Quintana Roo, the men who took Cacho were police from the state of Puebla … with no jurisdiction in Quintana Roo.

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Mexico’s Other Immigration Problem

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20-year-old Nicaraguan Josue Holguin Artica inside a safe house called “Casa de Migrantes.” He’s been hiding out here for a month with other migrants from Guatemala.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in the United States this week. His trip comes at a delicate moment. U.S. presidential contenders are calibrating their positions on illegal immigration. Calderon accuses the candidates of using Mexican migrants as “symbolic hostages.” He condemns the persecution of Mexicans here. But some accuse Calderon of being hypocritical. They say the way Mexico treats Central American immigrants is nothing to be proud of either.

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Haitian Police Chief Battles Widespread Corruption

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Haitians line up outside a gov't building to get identification cards needed to cast ballots in an upcoming election.

As Haiti’s president-elect Rene Preval takes power, the man who must try to keep order during this transition is considered a reformer and rarely grants access to Western media. Mario Andresol is the recently appointed chief of the Haitian National Police.

Andresol has started a purge of the force. At considerable risk, he has arrested dozens of officers he says are involved in drug trafficking, organized kidnapping rings and politically motivated killings. His efforts to clean up the police force have made him a symbol of reform.

“The system is corrupted,” Andresol says. “The system is spoiled. You cannot have a new government in the same system as we have now. Unfortunately, everyone only thinks about elections and how to become president. And yet at the same time, our system that we have now, the establishment, is spoiled, and corrupt.”

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