Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today’s Headlines: See? All you have to do is ask nicely.

A day after they tried to force their way into an Iguala army barracks using rocks, bottles and stolen trucks, parents of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students got permission to inspect army installations to their heart’s content. The family members contend that the students are alive and the military knows where they are. Their belief is not widely shared.
    A spokesperson for the families said they plan to take full advantage of the invitation and will inspect “every barracks in the country.” If they mean that literally, they’ll be busy for a while. There are 44 military zones in Mexico, spread out over 12 regions.
    The announcement came from the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) after a long meeting Tuesday attended by the parents and several cabinet members, as well as Tomás Zerón de Lucio, head of the PGR’s Criminal Investigation Agency, who said, “The entry will have to be orderly and with respect for our institutions.” The parents will probably enter anyway.
    Three dailies lead with the story, and the other two front it. Milenio plays it straight: “Barracks will be opened to the parents of the 43.” The “43” refers to the original number of missing students; the remains of one has since been identified. Three others were killed by local police before the abduction, as were three bystanders. Reforma’s head reminds readers of the context of the authorities’ tension-reducing move: “Barracks opened after the aggression.”
    Excelsior, at least in its main head, goes with a different piece of news coming out of the meeting: “Army not at fault: PGR.” This is consistent with the PGR’s refusal to lend any credence to some press reports that the military may have been involved in the shooting and disappearance of the rural teachers college students in Iguala on September 26-27.

El Universal leads with a massacre that the army clearly was involved in — the slaughtering in the State of Mexico town of Tlatlaya last June of 22 kidnapping suspects who had already been detained. The events were originally sold as resulting from a shoot-out, but evidence later surfaced that the suspects were gunned down in cold blood. Now, in the words of the El U head, “CNDH reclassifies Tlatlaya as a serious case.” 
    The CNDH is the National Human Rights Commission, and the word “serious” here (grave in Spanish) is a meaningful one, triggering an enhanced investigation. Helping sway the commission was evidence that at least five of the dead were shot repeatedly with their own weapons.

La Jornada turns to another source for its contribution to the unpleasant news of the day: “Latin America one of the most violent regions, World Bank says.” The World Bank wasn’t ranking world regions by violence in the report used for the story. It was pointing out that the situation hurt  GDP growth throughout Latin America in 2014, which is expected to come in at 0.8% after reaching 2.5% in 2013. Murder rates three to four times higher than the global average had a lot to do with that, according to the report.

Surely owing to the agency of an ill-natured duende, the following words got typed Monday in a Today’s Headlines item about the Oaxaca teachers in Section 22 of the education workers union (SNTE), and its parallel activist organization CNTE, being unhappy with a new payroll system: “ . . . payment [is] now coming via the state government rather than directly from the federal treasury.”
    Tom Buckley, the former editor of The News who follows these things closely, points out that this is exactly backwards. Here’s his take:
* * * * *
Section 22 is protesting the fact that the federal government (SEP) is now managing the payroll, not that the state government is handling it. The way I understand it, the payments had been coming from the federal government to the state government which dumped the entire payroll into the IEEPO accounts (which Section 22 controls) and then the union distributed the money to the teachers (most likely siphoning off large amounts to finance the leaders and the “cause”). The new change means the federal government is paying the teachers directly. 
    The CNTE is trying to paint their objections as part of their opposition to the new education reform, insisting that the change implies the reform is being imposed on them. However, the reality is probably that they don’t want to cede direct control of the purse strings. 
                                                                                                                                         —Tom Buckley

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