External resources relating to Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday his 7-month-old government had yet to make progress in tackling record levels of violence afflicting the country as he launched a new militarised police force tasked with fixing the problem.

Mexico’s murder rate broke a new record in 2018 as the country’s drug war dragged on and criminal groups fought for control of an increasingly diversified range of illegal activities... López Obrador, known as Amlo, campaigned on a promise to tackle what he considered the root causes of crime such as poverty and a lack of opportunity, but has caused some disquiet by announcing plans for creating a militarised police force despite accusations that the country’s armed forces have themselves contributed to the rising violence.

In opposition, Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised to pacify the country by taking troops off the street and sending them back to their barracks.

This week, lawmakers from his party proposed to keep soldiers on the frontlines for the foreseeable future with the creation of a national guard.

The new force would combine military and civilian police under a single military command to “prevent and combat crime across Mexico and [would be] endowed with the discipline, hierarchy and ranking of military institutions”, according to proposed bill published in the legislative gazette on Tuesday.

Palmer Luckey, the virtual reality pioneer, left Facebook in 2017, six months after it was discovered that he had secretly funded a pro-Trump campaign group dedicated to influencing the US election through “shitposting” and “meme magic”.

The 25-year-old Oculus founder now has a new venture, Anduril Industries, this time supporting Trump’s immigration policies directly through the creation of a surveillance system designed to detect unauthorised crossings of the Mexican border.

Anduril Industries is one of a growing number of companies playing on the fear of “bad hombres” to cash in on government contracts for hi-tech virtual alternatives to physical wall. From drones and sensors to AI-powered facial recognition and human presence detection, these surveillance systems promise cheaper border control but at what cost to civil liberties?

Climate change, increased global migration, and expanding border enforcement are three linked phenomena guaranteed to come to an explosive head in this century.

Proposed legislation in Mexico that would enshrine the role of the armed forces in law enforcement is deeply worrying, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Tuesday.

“I fully recognize that Mexico faces a huge security challenge, given the violence and fear sown by powerful, organized crime groups. But more than a decade after the armed forces were deployed in the so-called war on drugs, violence has not abated and many human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances, continue to be committed by various State and non-State actors,” said Zeid.

A shocking account of police violence towards women in Mexico. Content note: includes reference to sexual violence and torture from the start and throughout.

The world was stunned when rifle-toting police officers in masks and body armour rolled up in Ferguson, Missouri, in armoured vehicles, to stop the 2014 street protests over the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown.

Following the public backlash, then-president Obama signed an executive order in 2015 limiting police access to equipment that belonged "on the battlefield".

Fast forward two years to Donald Trump. This week the US President promised to make it legal again for surplus military equipment, including grenade launchers and tanks, to be passed on to law enforcement agencies.

Donald Trump has pledged to build a ‘beautiful wall’ – but America’s frontier with Mexico is already aggressively defended by the drones and fences of the US border patrol. It’s a strategy that is causing ever more migrants to die in hostile terrain.

PLEASANTON — A gathering of more than 5,000 law enforcement workers next week at the Alameda County Fairgrounds also is expected to draw about 1,000 protesters.

Urban Shield, billed as an emergency preparedness exercise, is set to take place Thursday through Sept. 12. at the fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The event, hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office since 2007, will this year also include national police from Mexico and Taiwan, said Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly.

The refugee crisis facing Europe has caused consternation in the corridors of power, and heated debate on Europe’s streets. It has exposed fundamental faultlines in the whole European project, as governments fail to agree on even limited sharing of refugees and instead blame each other. Far-right parties have surged in popularity exploiting austerity-impacted communities in putting the blame for economic recession on a convenient scapegoat as opposed to the powerful banking sector. This has been most potently seen in the UK, where leaders of the ‘Leave EU’ campaign unscrupulously amplified fears of mass migration to successfully mobilise support for Brexit.   Refugees fleeing terrible violence and hardship have been caught in the crossfire; forced to take ever more dangerous routes to get to Europe and facing racist attacks in host nations when they finally arrive.

However there is one group of interests that have only benefited from the refugee crisis, and in particular from the European Union’s investment in ‘securing’ its borders. They are the military and security companies that provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.

This report turns a spotlight on those border security profiteers, examining who they are and the services they provide, how they both influence and benefit from European policies and what funding they receive from taxpayers. The report shows that far from being passive beneficiaries of EU largesse, these corporations are actively encouraging a growing securitisation of Europe’s borders, with some willing to provide ever more draconian technologies to do this.

Torture is widespread in Mexico’s “war on drugs”, but the impact on women has been largely ignored or downplayed. This Amnesty International report analyses the stories of 100 women who have reported torture and other forms of violence during arrest and interrogation by police and armed forces. Severe beatings; threats of rape against women and their families; near-asphyxiation, electric shocks to the genitals; groping of breasts and pinching of nipples; rape with objects, fingers, firearms and the penis – these are just some of the forms of violence inflicted on women, in many cases with the intention of getting them to “confess” to serious crimes.

On March 30 of this year, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) endorsed Donald Trump, effectively backing his bid for the presidency of the United States. NBPC president Brandon Judd heads the organization, which describes itself online as “the exclusive representative of approximately 18,000 Border Patrol Agents and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Border Patrol.” Judd himself published the NBPC’s pro-Trump communiqué, asserting that “if we do not secure our borders, American communities will continue to suffer at the hands of gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent. The lives and security of the American people are at stake… There is no greater physical or economic threat to Americans today than our open border.”

Despite proposed increases in spending on personnel and equipment for border enforcement, the complex geography of border militarization and the violence it produces require further examination. We take a geographical perspective to determine the role of violence in both its official forms, such as the incarceration and punishments experienced by undocumented migrants, as well as through abuses and violence perpetrated by agents in shaping border and immigration enforcement. By drawing on the Migrant Border Crossing Study (MBCS), which is a unique data source based on 1,110 surveys of a random sample of deportees, as well as research with family members and return migrants in Puebla, Mexico, we provide an innovative and robust account of the geography of violence and migration. Identifying regional variation allows us to see the priorities and strategic use of violence in certain areas as part of enforcement practice. We assert that understanding the role of violence allows us to explain the prevalence of various forms of abuse, as well as the role of abuse in border enforcement strategies, not as a side effect, but as elemental to the current militarized strategies.

Much is written about the illegal gun trade to Mexico – much less about the Mexican military’s sales to its own police and private security companies of weapons that are imported, mostly from the United States.

The International Institute of Strategic Studies earlier this year called Mexico the third most deadly conflict in the world. While the war is purportedly between the state and drug traffickers, Mexican police, military and civilian institutions are deeply involved in protecting drug trafficking organizations, and many of those killed, tortured, or disappeared are Mexican and Central American families who have nothing to do with the drugs trade. European and U.S. governments and arms producers are well aware of the Mexican government’s involvement in widespread abuses, which is well documented, but the weapons kept flowing...

Here in Canada and throughout the Americas, many governments have embraced resource extraction as the key sector to fuel economic growth, neglecting other sectors – or even at their expense. This is creating unprecedented demand for land and other resources, such as water and energy. In Latin America, economic dependency on intensive primary resource extraction has become known as ‘extractivism’.

Increasingly, when Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples, farmers, environmentalists, journalists, and other concerned citizens speak out against this model for economic growth, particular projects and/or their impacts, they become the targets of threats, accusations, and smears that attempt to label and punish them as enemies of the state, opponents of development, delinquents, criminals, and terrorists. In the worst cases, this leads to physical violence and murder.

Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico provide examples of intensified criminalization, where there has been little pause in neoliberal deregulation of the mining sector since the 1990s...

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the militarization of domestic security is bad for human rights and has little impact on crime and violence in the long term. So what keeps attracting Latin American governments to adopt these “iron fist” policies?

Latin America is witnessing a steady movement toward the militarization of the police, with the armed forces taking over many of the day to day functions of community policing.  But given Latin America’s past troubles with military governments, this development is raising serious concerns. In the 1960s and 1970s a spate of coups across the region brought harsh right-wing regimes to power, with the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay deploying their militaries as internal security forces, purging their countries of domestic political opponents, real and imagined. Now many fear that we may be heading back toward the bad old days, with unbridled militaries running riot over the citizenry...

Abstract: This article analyses a certain 'thickening of the border,' a term I coin to underscore a certain blurring of the insides and outsides of the United States with respect to Latin American, primarily Mexican, immigration.  In making this intervention, the article underscores the linkages among a dark legacy of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA), the militarization of Border Patrol policing practices in the southwestern United States, and "Secure Communities," a mammoth immigration policing programme across much of the United States.

With the agility of a seasoned Border Patrol veteran, the woman rushed after the students. She caught up with them just before they entered the exhibition hall of the eighth annual Border Security Expo, reaching out and grabbing the nearest of them by the shoulder. Slightly out of breath, she said, “You can’t go in there, give me back your badges.”

The astonished students had barely caught a glimpse of the dazzling pavilion of science-fiction-style products in that exhibition hall at the Phoenix Convention Center. There, just beyond their view, more than 100 companies, including Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Verizon, were trying to sell the latest in futuristic border policing technology to anyone with the money to buy it...

William “Drew” Dodds, the salesperson for StrongWatch, a Tucson-based company, is at the top of his game when he describes developments on the southern border of the United States in football terms. In his telling, that boundary is the line of scrimmage, and the technology his company is trying to sell -- a mobile surveillance system named Freedom-On-The-Move, a camera set atop a retractable mast outfitted in the bed of a truck and maneuvered with an Xbox controller -- acts like a “roving linebacker"...

On a particularly dark stretch on the two lane road that traverses the reservation, a group of men appear in the opposite lane in the headlights of our vehicle and are waving at us to stop. They are a group of people without papers from Chiapas—hungry, thirsty, and visibly injured—migrating north through the Tohono O'odham Nation. This Native American reservation is increasingly becoming ground zero for the Border Patrol on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Faced with surging crime and corrupt police forces, many Latin American governments are turning to their militaries to combat citizen insecurity, but the peacetime deployment of the armed forces is not without risk...