Monday, April 27, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Forget about the Chilpancingo vandals and their ridiculous violence. They have their own agenda. In the big picture, the protest movement that grew out of the Iguala tragedy has been a success, even if it doesn't feel like it yet. The truth is, Mexico will never be the same.

El Universal leads with a headline meant to alarm: “Abductions of foreigners soar in the country.”
    It’s from a leaked National Immigration Institute document with numbers that seem to justify the verb “soar.” In 2012, 72 foreigners reported being kidnapped in Mexico. In 2013, 75. Then suddenly, in 2014, there were 721 such abductions.
    One of the figures given in the story might have been mentioned in the headline: The overwhelming majority of the abductions — 86% — have taken place in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.
    No explanation for that is given, and it seems to clash with the information that “the majority of victims are migrants crossing the national territory.” That fact, along with a case history of a Guatemalan victim that takes up most of the article’s column centimeters, implies that the principal targets are Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.
    But that’s never stated. What is stated is that the victims are from nine different countries, including 130 from the United States between January and November of 2014. El Universal quotes Mexican federal authorities as contending that those Americans were victims of “deprivation of liberty for purposes of extortion,” rather than abductions. That should make them feel better about it.
    The article raises more questions than answers. Why Tamaulipas, the state at the end of the migration trail through Mexico? What could account for the big jump last year? And how significant are these numbers?
    Probably not very significant at all, given that they are based on reported cases, which don’t have much to do with what’s really going on out there.
    El U even hints at that itself by throwing in at the end of the article, without comment or explanation, a finding by the National Human Rights Commission that 11,000 undocumented foreigners were abducted in Mexico in 2013.
    Okay, if we’re talking about kidnap numbers in the five figures, why the huge play for some kind of internal accounting that doesn’t reach even four figures? What does it really mean?
    It means El Universal got ahold of the INM document and knew it had an exclusive. And not much more.


Another 26th of the month went by yesterday — the seventh since six people were killed by police in Iguala and 43 more abducted, never to be heard from since.
    The date, once an inspiration for mass protest, is now little more than an excuse for local disruption by assorted violent activists, mostly teachers, in several Guerrero towns. The latest variation is described in two of La Jornada’s three front-page headlines on the protests: “Violence resurfaces in Guerrero” and “Six vehicles are burned in front of Congress in Chilpancingo.”
    The other papers downplay both the date and the destruction. The vandals have played themselves out as the face of protest, an encouraging vindication of the simple fact that the vast majority of Mexicans don’t approve of violence.
    But Iguala is still an open sore, in La Jornada’s phrase, and the issue, far from fading, has been integrated into the national conversation. It’s not going away.
    Neither is the new awareness of the plight of the people of Guerrero, and how it’s been allowed to go on for centuries. (There’s a moving video about that by a New Yorker photojournalist that's been circulating around the Internet. Watch it.)
    In that sense, the 26th marked a success. The peaceful protesters, the press and the people in general refused to let official abuse and corruption be ignored. And now it never will be.
    Which was not the case a year ago, when the administration was superimposing economic reforms on a broken country — and getting away with it. No matter how you feel about the reforms, they can’t be used anymore to change the subject.

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