Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador offered 4,000 jobs Friday to migrants in a new caravan currently crossing Central America toward the United States.
“We have more than 4,000 jobs along our southern border, and also migrant shelters. There is work in our country,” the leftist leader said at his daily news conference.
The caravan, which formed in Honduras this week and is making its way across Guatemala, currently has around 3,000 migrants, Lopez Obrador said.
According to Guatemala’s new President Alejandro Giammattei, Mexico has vowed to use “everything at its disposal” to stop them.
Mexico has come under pressure from President Donald Trump to slow a surge of undocumented migrants who arrived at the US-Mexican border last year.
Trump threatened in May to impose tariffs on Mexico if the government did not do more to stop them.
Cornered, Lopez Obrador’s administration deployed 27,000 National Guardsmen to tighten its borders and has allowed the United States to send more than 40,000 asylum-seekers back to Mexico while their cases are processed, under the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Human Rights Watch accused Mexico Tuesday of violating migrants’ rights by failing to guarantee the security of those returned by the United States and detaining others in “inhumane conditions.”
Tens of thousands of Central American migrants crossed Mexico toward the United States last year in large caravans, fleeing chronic poverty and brutal gang violence and seeking safety in numbers from the dangers of the journey.
That prompted Trump to warn of an “invasion” and deploy nearly 6,000 US troops to the border.
The bodies of at least 29 people have been unearthed from a mass grave on a property outside Mexico’s western city of Guadalajara, local authorities said Monday.
The grim site was discovered in Jalisco — a state hard-hit by violence linked to organized crime, and the same area where authorities have found a total of 80 bodies since November.
The local prosecutor’s office said that four of the dead had been partially identified and corresponded with open missing persons investigations.
Authorities will continue to search the grave, which is about 80 feet (25 meters) by 155 feet.
The grave is located about 260 feet away from another mass grave, where the bodies of at least 50 people were discovered in December.
In November, 31 bodies were also found nearby.
The three graves were located after the National Guard took control of a warehouse in the nearby municipality of Tlaquepaque in November, where they rescued eight people who had been kidnapped, seized weapons and detained 15 people.
Before that, a mass grave with 34 bodies was discovered in a suburb of Guadalajara on September 3, while another was found nearby in May with the remains of 30 people.
Nearly 2,500 murders were reported between January and November in Jalisco — where the powerful Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel is based — state authorities have said.
The United States, Mexico and Canada will sign an “initial deal” Tuesday finalizing the USMCA trade agreement, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
“There is an initial deal between the governments,” the leftist leader told his daily news conference, as negotiators from the three countries prepared to meet in Mexico City.
“Today it will be signed by… the three countries’ negotiators.”
Lopez Obrador was due to chair a meeting of top officials from the three countries at the presidential palace at 1800 GMT.
Initially signed in November 2018, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is meant to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Donald Trump complains has been “a disaster” for the US.
But Mexico is the only country to ratify it so far.
In Washington, opposition Democrats — acutely aware of the need to win back blue-collar voters they lost to Trump in 2016 — have insisted on greater oversight of Mexican labor reforms promised under the new deal, including wage hikes and increased power for unions.
A shootout in a Mexican town near the US border between suspected drug traffickers and police left at least 14 dead, including four officers, officials said Saturday.
The confrontation broke out shortly before noon in Villa Union in the northern state of Coahuila when officers detected several vehicles and heavily armed passengers touring the small community, which is roughly 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the US border.
Four of those killed were police, seven were suspected criminals and another three unidentified bodies were found nearby on a rural road, Coahuila governor Miguel Angel Riquelme told reporters.
Six officers were also wounded but their injuries were not serious and they had already been discharged from hospital, Riquelme said.
An unspecified number of people — including a child — were also missing, government officials added.
Local authorities said twelve trucks were seized in the operation, as well as several high-calibre weapons and an unspecified load of ammunition.
Video shared on Riquelme’s official Facebook page showed the bullet-ridden mayor’s office, while images showed some of the chaos left after the confrontation.
The attack comes after Mexico’s leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador warned he would not allow the US to conduct cross-border armed operations against drug cartels in the country, after President Donald Trump said he planned to designate Mexican drug hangs as terrorist organizations.
The US president has been talking tough on the powerful drug cartels since one was allegedly responsible for the massacre of nine women and children from a US-Mexican Mormon community in northern Mexico on November 4.
Trump has said he would help Mexico tackle the drug gangs, and the two countries have cooperated closely in the fight against drug cartels.
Mexico’s government said Wednesday it has helped 10 Mexican citizens file lawsuits against Walmart over an August shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas, where a suspected white nationalist killed 22 people.
“The objective of these suits, presented in El Paso County, is to hold the company responsible for not taking reasonable and necessary measures to protect its clients from the attack,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The plaintiffs are seeking not only justice for themselves but security for the general public.”
The suits were brought by survivors of the attack, their relatives and families of the victims, the foreign ministry said.
Mexico on Sunday said it was offering asylum to Bolivia’s President Evo Morales after 20 government officials and lawmakers had sought refuge at its embassy in La Paz.
“Mexico, in accordance with its tradition of asylum and non intervention, has received 20 personalities from the Bolivian executive and legislature in the official residence in La Paz, so we would also offer asylum to Evo Morales,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter.
Mexico’s president faced a firestorm of criticism on Friday as his security forces acknowledged they arrested kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s son, then released him when his cartel responded with an all-out gun battle.
Admitting his troops carried out a “badly planned” operation, Defense Minister Luis Sandoval said they briefly arrested Ovidio Guzman — one of several sons running the Sinaloa drug cartel since their father was extradited to the US in 2017 — but released him after being overpowered.
“It was a badly planned strategy,” Sandoval told a news conference in Culiacan, the western city of 750,000 people that was turned into an urban war zone Thursday.
“The task force acted too hastily. (The operation) wasn’t improvised, there was planning, but… it takes time to obtain an arrest warrant. When the operation was already underway, they decided to improvise and try to obtain a positive result,” he said, after flying into the city — the state capital of Sinaloa, the Guzmans’ bastion — for an emergency security cabinet meeting.
He added the authorities never “formally detained” Guzman, 28, one of at least nine children “El Chapo” fathered with three wives.
The six hours of clashes left one civilian and seven soldiers dead, and three police wounded, officials said.
Heavily armed cartel gunmen surrounded the house where Guzman was being held Thursday afternoon and launched a massive machine-gun assault on various parts of the city, sending terrified residents fleeing for safety and leaving the streets strewn with blazing vehicles.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended the decision to free Guzman.
“I support the decisions that were made. The situation turned very difficult and many citizens’ lives were at risk,” he told a separate news conference.
“You can’t fight fire with fire,” added the leftist leader, who said Mexico was acting on a US request for Guzman’s extradition, received in September 2018.
But the incident turned what was already a difficult week on the security front — with two other gun battles that killed 28 people — into a total nightmare for the leftist leader.
“Little Chapo brings (the government) to its knees,” newspaper Reforma said in a banner headline.
“This is a disaster any way you look at it,” tweeted security analyst Alejandro Hope.
In Congress, members of the conservative National Action Party called on Lopez Obrador and his security cabinet to step down.
“Resign!” they chanted on the floor of the lower house.
Security Minister Alfonso Durazo denied officials had negotiated Guzman’s release with his cartel.
The government also faced criticism for its murky communications.
Durazo initially said the gun battle erupted when soldiers on a routine patrol happened upon Guzman.
Lopez Obrador, however, called it a planned operation carried out with an arrest warrant. Sandoval said there was no warrant.
The government, which initially released only hazy details, took around 18 hours to admit publicly that it had captured and released Guzman.
“El Chapo,” 62, was sentenced to life in prison in July in New York for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States over the course of a quarter-century.
However, his cartel remains one of the most powerful in Mexico.
His extradition unleashed an initial period of instability in the group, as Ovidio and his brothers waged war with cartel co-founder Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada for control.
But the situation has stabilized into a reluctant truce.
The Guzman brothers have tried to fill their father’s shoes, but anti-narcotics experts portray them as flashy party boys who have little ability to run the business side of the cartel.
Lopez Obrador, who took office in December 2018, has struggled to rein in the brutal violence racking Mexico.
The country has registered more than 250,000 murders since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006.
Many experts blame the “drug war” for spiralling violence, as fragmented cartels battle each other and the army.
This year appears on track to set a new homicide record, with 23,063 murders as of August.
Heavily armed gunmen waged an all-out battle against Mexican security forces Thursday as soldiers arrested — then reportedly released — a son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in his home state, Sinaloa.
Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said soldiers on a routine afternoon patrol came under fire from a residence in the state capital, Culiacan.
He said they responded by taking the house and detaining four people inside, including Ovidio Guzman, one of several sons of “El Chapo” who have partly taken over the Sinaloa cartel since he was extradited to the United States in 2017.
Cartel gunmen then “surrounded the house, outnumbering the soldiers,” and began a massive assault on various parts of the city, Durazo said.
That triggered an hours-long battle that left blazing vehicles strewn across the street and sent terrified residents running for shelter.
“In order to protect the greater good, the people of Culiacan’s safety and well-being, the (federal government’s) security cabinet decided to suspend said actions,” Durazo said in a video message.
According to Mexican media reports, that included freeing Ovidio Guzman.
Neither Durazo nor President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s office immediately responded to requests for further information, and details on the day’s incidents remained murky.
Durazo said the security cabinet would travel to Culiacan to personally oversee the next steps. Officials were due to give a press conference in the western city at 6:45 am (1245 GMT) Friday.
Images carried on Mexican television showed army and police personnel under assault by men armed with heavy weapons.
Some panicked drivers abandoned their cars in the middle of the street to take cover from the deafening gunfire.
Gunmen blocked roads and highways into the evening, bringing the city of 750,000 people to a standstill, AFP journalists said.
Sources in the Sinaloa state government speaking on condition of anonymity said police officers had been wounded.
They also said an unknown number of inmates had escaped from the Aguaruto prison in Culiacan amid the chaos.
The state government said it was “working to restore calm and order in the face of the high-impact incidents that have occurred in recent hours in various points around Culiacan.”
It called on residents to “remain calm, stay off the streets and be very attentive to official advisories on the evolving situation.”
Dire security situation
“El Chapo,” 62, was sentenced to life in prison in July for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States over the course of a quarter-century.
However, his cartel remains one of the most powerful in Mexico.
Guzman’s extradition unleashed an initial period of instability in the group, as Ovidio and his brothers waged war with cartel co-founder Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada for control, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.
But the situation has since stabilized into a reluctant truce.
Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was re-arrested in 2016 after a brazen prison escape — the second of his career.
He is considered the most powerful drug lord since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.
After being convicted in a New York court, “El Chapo” is now serving a life sentence in the notorious ADX federal maximum security prison in Colorado.
Ovidio and his brothers have tried to fill their father’s shoes, but anti-narcotics experts portray them as flashy party boys who have little ability to run the business side of the cartel.
Reports that Ovidio had been arrested and then freed triggered harsh criticism of Obrador’s security strategy.
The leftist leader, who took office in December 2018, has struggled to rein in the brutal violence racking Mexico.
Earlier this week, 28 people were killed in two separate gun battles in the restive states of Michoacan and Guerrero.
Mexico has registered more than 250,000 murders since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006.
Many experts blame the “drug war” for spiraling violence, as fragmented cartels battle each other and the army.
Mexican security forces on Thursday arrested one son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in an operation that triggered fighting in the western city of Culiacan, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said.
Ovidio Guzman is one of the sons who have assumed control of part of the notorious cartel run by their father until he was extradited to the United States in 2017.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he would send a letter to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking for her support to ratify the new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).
Mexico, which sends 80 percent of its exports to the United States, has watched nervously as the process of ratifying the deal has slowed to a seeming near-halt in the US amid election-year politics and President Donald Trump’s impeachment battle.
Pelosi, the Democratic opposition leader who holds the keys to the deal’s future in the House, has voiced reservations about certain aspects of the trade deal, which Trump is pushing hard to ratify.
She and other Democrats have notably voiced skepticism about measures to protect American workers by requiring better labor conditions in Mexico, a low-cost competitor.
“I’m going to send her (Pelosi) a letter today explaining our position, asking for her support to ratify the agreement in the US House of Representatives,” Lopez Obrador told a news conference.
The leaders of the three countries signed the USMCA in November to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump regularly trashed as the worst trade deal his country ever signed.
The new deal must now be ratified in all three countries’ legislatures. Mexico, whose economy has suffered from the uncertainty surrounding relations with its key trading partner, is the only one to do that so far.
Pelosi said last week the House is “on a path to yes” regarding the deal.
“We’re trying to find common ground with the president. He always wanted this. We do too,” she said.
Lopez Obrador was due to meet Tuesday with a delegation of US House Democrats visiting Mexico City.
He said he would urge Pelosi to seek a “speedy ratification” so that “this important issue, which will benefit all three countries’ economies, does not get mixed up with and contaminated by the campaign” for the November 2020 elections in the United States.