Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where’s Peña Nieto’s Plan for the Iguala Disappearances?

As the search for the 43 missing students drags on in Guerrero, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is finding his agenda completely dictated by the disappearances. Though more than a month has passed since the incident, his administration appears caught off guard by the public outrage to the case and seems unable to articulate a satisfactory response.

Newspaper Reforma reports that the president has postponed plans to seek congressional approval for his plans to travel to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing and a G-20 leaders’ summit in Australia next month. Instead, Peña Nieto appears to be devoting his energy almost entirely to responding to the public outrage resulting from the disappearances in Iguala.

According to El Universal, Peña Nieto is scheduled to receive the parents of the missing 43 later today for a closed door meeting in his official residence. Animal Politico reports that relatives of three students who were killed by police and unknown gunmen prior to the disappearances have been invited as well. Also expected to be present is Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.

Meanwhile, the case still dominates headlines, and protests against the disappearances and police corruption in general have continued both in Iguala and across the country.  

The resignation of Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre has not stopped federal lawmakers from pointing fingers and exchanging allegations of facilitating the corrupt relationship between local authorities and police in Iguala that contributed to the disappearances. El Universal and El Pais report that left-wing politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been a recurring target, as he personally endorsed Jose Luis Abarca’s campaigns for mayor of Iguala, allegedly after having been informed of the local officials’ reported crime links.

As the New York Times and L.A. Times report, yesterday authorities announced that suspects in the case had led them to yet another mass grave in the nearby town of Cocula, and that investigators are working to identify the remains found there.  However, the fact that officials have discovered 38 bodies in ten other unrelated mass graves nearby has lowered hopes that the latest find is linked to the Iguala case.

The Financial Times has a particularly astute analysis of the significance of the case to the Peña Nieto administration, criticizing the fact that the president appears not to have a plan to address the scandal and has not yet visited Iguala. The FT also takes him to task for his decision to abandon his predecessor’s narrative of a war on crime in favor of “sticking rigidly to the narrative of progress and modernization.” The piece also features input by several analysts who suggest he use his political coalition-building skills to hammer out reforms meant to assert the rule of law.

News Briefs
  • A bill presented to Colombia’s Congress that would legalize marijuana for medicinal use got a boost yesterday by Minister of Health Alejandro Gaviria, Radio Santa Fe and El Tiempo report.
  • In her first major interview since re-election, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff spoke with SBT Brasil last night about her plans for her next term. Among other things the president doubled down on her promises to promote political reforms via a popular referendum, and emphasized her support for a federal law that criminalizes homophobic speech.
  • Police in the Brazilian state of São Paulo have released alarming statistics on the number of killings by uniformed officials so far this year. From January to September, police there killed 478 people, the highest number for the same period over the past decade and twice as many as the same period last year.
  • Following a report by Semana magazine alleging that Colombian military intelligence officials had conducted a secret list of the personal emails of journalists, diplomats and peace negotiators, military intelligence chief Mauricio Forero has been temporarily relieved of his duties as the attorney general’s office investigates the matter.
  • Fort the 23rd time, the United  Nations General Assembly voted yesterday to overwhelmingly condemn the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. As Reuters reports, as in the past several years the U.S. was joined only by Israel in opposing the measure, while a handful of Pacific island nations abstained.
  • Salvadoran Defense Minister General David Munguia Payes has responded to allegations that the recent murder of Colonel Carlos Alfredo Rivas Najarro’s son had to do with Rivas’ support for investigating military human rights abuses and repealing El Salvador’s Amnesty Law, as profiled recently in InSight Crime. In remarks to news site Factum, Munguia Payes  denied that the armed forces were behind the murder, saying that today’s Salvadoran military has changed drastically since the days of the country’s civil war.