Friday, December 26, 2014

Today's headlines: Where the air is clear

Most dailies give space on their front pages for photographs of either clean skies over Mexico City or the abundant snow on the ground in the higher altitudes. With the clouds parting after an unusually rainy 24th, Christmas Day turned out to be clear and crisp, with skies of blue and a hint of optimism.  For a day at least. Reforma, the killjoy, accompanies its photo of la región más transparente with a lead headline warning: “DF losing clear days.” The story cites statistics from the Federal District’s Environment Secretariat showing more bad-air days (163) so far in 2014 than in the previous two years.

La Jornada puts its clear-day picture on the contraportada — the back of the tabloid that serves as a second front page — and instead fronts a photo of family members and supporters of the slain Guerrero normalistas gathered outside the German embassy. The protesters say German-made arms were used to kill six people in Iguala, three of them normal school students, at the beginning of the September 26 events that led to 43 more being kidnapped and murdered. Jornada’s lead headline: “On Christmas, new mobilizations by the normalistas.”  A major protest march along Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City is planned for today, the three-month anniversary of the Iguala massacre.


El Universal is the only paper without a feel-good weather photo, and the only paper to lead with the following (though every paper fronts it): “Priest murdered despite operation in Tierra Caliente.” The Tierra Caliente is a large region in Guerrero, Michoacán and the State of Mexico known for hot weather, low rainfall, constant social unrest and unstoppable crime. It includes the city of Ciudad Altamirano, named for the author of “Clemencia” and other 19th-century novels, the Guerrero-born Ignacio Manuel Altamirano. It was near there Thursday that the priest Gregorio López Gorrostieta was found dead from an execution-style shot, after being kidnapped. Neither motive nor suspect was mentioned in the story. No ransom demand had been made. Security for that part of the state has been under Defense Secretariat control, with 2,000 troops deployed. Hence the reference in the headline to “despite operation.”

Excelsior and Milenio lead with number-crunching stories, the kind newsrooms hang onto for slow news days, which Christmas Day is normally expected to be. Excelsior: “Disappearances hit minors.” The emphasis here is on Interior Secretariat statistics indicating that 34% of the 23,605 persons reported missing this year as of October 30 are 19 years old or younger. That percentage is supposed to shock us, but given the national demographics and the nature of disappearances, it’s about what you’d expect. It’s the 23,605 figure that’s shocking — and that’s only reported disappearances. Milenio: “More than 300 initiatives frozen.” Congress adjourned earlier this month with much legislation approved by one house but hung up in the other. Some of those shelved bills are major, having to do with the debt crisis plaguing local and state governments, an overhaul of the Attorney General’s Office, the rules for forming coalitions in state-level elections, new strategies for dealing with the obesity crisis, a global warming policy and (though it’s not mentioned in the story) increased autonomy for the Federal District. There will be one more congressional session before the 2015 elections in June.

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