Even in a country hardened by nearly a decade of deadly criminal conflict, the Ayotzinapa case stands out: 43 students forcibly disappeared during the night of Sept. 26, 2014, allegedly at the hands of municipal police in league with a local drug gang. President Enrique Peña Nieto promised that this horrific crime, above all, would not go unpunished. “After Iguala,” he declared, naming the city where the youths went missing, “Mexico must change.”
Nineteen months later, the case has generated much controversy but little change. A group of international experts backed by the Organization of American States, invited by the government to assist federal investigators on behalf of the victims’ families, has departed after issuing a scathing 600-page report citing evidence that suspects were tortured, promising leads left unexplored, contradictory forensic reports ignored and key evidence mishandled — perhaps planted — in an apparent effort to close the probe as quickly as possible.… Seguir leyendo »
Few countries have done more, more quickly to combat corruption than impoverished, violence-wracked Guatemala. In less than a year prosecutors have linked nearly 100 officials and business people to schemes that may have robbed the state of more than $120 million in customs revenues, while earning fortunes in kickbacks.
A sitting president and vice president, accused of masterminding the conspiracy, both resigned after losing immunity and now await trial in prison.
Perhaps most remarkably, Guatemala accomplished this without illegally ousting a government and reigniting bloody cycles of repression and rebellion. Citizens from across the political spectrum took to the streets in massive, non-violent demonstrations to demand the ouster of corrupt politicos and then took part in one of the country’s most peaceful recent elections to choose a political outsider — Jimmy Morales, a TV comedian — as president.… Seguir leyendo »
Joaquín Guzmán Loera — better known by his alias “El Chapo” or “Shorty” — has again lived up to his legend. With his spectacular escape from a high-security prison in Mexico, the notorious drug lord outdid his first jailbreak in 2001, when he reportedly snuck out hidden in a laundry cart. This time his exit from prison befitted a man reputed to head one of the world’s most powerful criminal organizations: through a tunnel dug under his shower, extending nearly one mile, complete with ventilation and lighting.
The sensational escape is an embarrassment for the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, which heralded Guzman’s capture as a major strike against organized crime in February 2014.… Seguir leyendo »
The retired general who won Guatemala’s presidency in November seems an unlikely advocate of a kinder approach toward counternarcotics policy. Otto Pérez — whose party’s symbol is a clenched fist — campaigned on the promise that his government would crack down on the crime ravaging parts of the country. A former member of the special forces known as Kaibiles, he also served as director of military intelligence.
But his reluctance to join a stalemated war against drugs is understandable. As a military man and a pragmatic politician, Pérez wants to fight battles he has a chance of winning. The two Latin American presidents joining Pérez’s call for a debate on legalization also campaigned on the issues of crime and public safety: Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, a former minister of defense, and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla, a former minister of public security.… Seguir leyendo »