Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today's Headlines: A suspected fixer in the Iguala atrocity is captured, but you'd never know it by reading the front pages

Excelsior is the only daily that leads with — or even appears to be aware of — a break in the Iguala case. Captured and interrogated Friday night was one Felipe Rodríguez Salgado, aka El Cepillo or El Terco, a high-ranking hit man with the local mafia Guerreros Unidos. That’s the crime organization accused of having killed last September the 43 missing students from a rural teachers college and burned their bodies.
    Excelsior’s head is “Material author in Iguala case captured,” with “material author” implying more direct involvement in the carrying out of the atrocity than “intellectual author,” which would refer to a mastermind. Rodríguez is thought to have taken charge of the removal of all traces of the cremated bodies. This was apparently done so thoroughly that investigators have found little in the way of remains, and have only identified one of the victims.
    Already in custody is Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, capo of Guerreros Unidos, as well as then-Mayor José Luis Abarca, who is charged with  setting the round-up in motion, and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, accused of involvement with organized crime. Most of the local police force is also behind bars. Another key suspect, gang member Gildardo López Astudillo, is still at-large.
    The story broke Friday night via Twitter, which may be why the other four papers didn’t have it. However, there was still no news about it this morning in their online editions. The New York Times  does feature it, which you can read in English here.

There was also a development in another case that has stirred resentment. That would be the defrauding of thousands of clients — including state governments and courts — by the big financial firm Ficrea, whose ownership simply disappeared with the invested funds.  El Universal reports as its top story: “More than 3.5 billion pesos seized from Ficrea owner.” The “seized” funds are those that were insured.
     Federal banking and securities officials said those assets will be used to pay off the bilked investors. But Milenio’s No. 2 headline puts that in perspective: “Assets won’t be enough to pay clients.” Reforma’s second front-page head provides another juicy tidbit about Rafael Antonio Olvera Amezcua, the fugitive Ficrea owner: “Olvera fled with 25 million pesos . . . in cash.”

La Jornada takes a consistently critical approach to its new coverage, so it wasn’t about to let stand recent (relatively) positive news about a falling unemployment rate. It’s top story, with the headline “Unemployment growing among most educated: INEGI,” reveals a feature of the Mexican job market that shouldn’t be ignored. Figures coming from the National Statistics Institute (INEGI) show that the degreed population makes up nearly half (48.22%) of the nation’s jobless. The stereotype of Ph.D.’s driving taxis for cash is not all fiction.

If elections are coming up, it’s the traditional time for the private sector to enhance its profile. Yesterday we learned that the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex) had on Thursday lobbied the Peña Nieto administration to start cracking down on vandalism by activist teachers in the state of Guerrero. Maybe it's a coincidence that two were arrested Friday (and released) for tearing down campaign material.
    Now, according to Reforma’s lead head: “IP preparing blacklist of pre-candidates.” “IP” is headline shorthand for the private sector, capitalized as Iniciativa Privada in Spanish. Doing the preparing is the Mexico City arm of Coparmex, which is vetting all announced hopefuls for congressional seats or other posts up for election in June. The list in question will be of those stained by corruption or scandal. It won’t be short.
    Another business organization, Mexicanos Primero, focuses on education reform and has for several years now been going after teachers’ unions with a passion. Its action yesterday is summed up in Excelsior’s No. 2 front page headline: “Cleansing of teacher payroll called for.” The federal Education Secretariat (SEP) withheld payment to more than 48,000 teaching positions for the first pay period of 2015, citing “irregularities.” Mexicanos Primero says that’s not nearly enough, claiming that 298,000 names on the payroll are ghosts, freeloaders, non-teachers or other fraudulent collectors of wages.

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