Americans Seeking Abortion Get Help From Mexico

A medical assistant checks a patient's pregnancy test result at the Women's Reproductive Clinic, which provides legal medication abortion services, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 17, 2022. Robyn Beck / AFP
A medical assistant checks a patient’s pregnancy test result at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic, which provides legal medication abortion services, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 17, 2022. Robyn Beck / AFP

 

Facing high medical costs and pressure to reconsider, a single mother living in California turned to activists across the border in Mexico who helped her have an abortion.

“We’re supposed to be in a free country, in a state where you can smoke marijuana, but abortion is still somewhat taboo,” the 31-year-old said, shortly before the US Supreme Court ended the nationwide right to the procedure.

The woman, of Mexican descent, believes terminating a pregnancy will now become ever harder, although the liberal West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington jointly vowed to defend abortion rights.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn the nationwide right to abortion gives all 50 states the freedom to ban the procedure, and nearly half are expected to do so in some form.

READ ALSO: From New York To California, Liberals Create Abortion Sanctuaries

Even before the ruling, accessing a safe abortion in the United States was already “complicated if you don’t have money,” said the mother of three, who works in a restaurant in San Diego.

She initially visited two clinics in the United States, but at both the cost of the procedure was almost $1,000, which she could not afford.

At one of the facilities, which had religious links, she was discouraged from having an abortion.

“They told me there were other options, that I could give it up for adoption. But I was determined, desperate,” she told AFP by telephone, explaining that she got pregnant because contraceptives failed.

‘Huge setback’

Through a friend, the woman learned about Colectiva Bloodys, a non-government organization in Tijuana just south of San Diego that is part of a cross-border network providing free assistance to women in the United States who cannot access an abortion.

“I was surprised that they helped me from Mexico. I thought that we were more liberal here,” she said.

“Everything moved very quickly there. In less than a day they said ‘here’s the solution,'” the woman said.

She was sent a combination of medication that ends a pregnancy by causing the uterus to contract, a method considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO), mainly for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The NGO responded quickly to any follow-up questions and “was always supportive,” she added.

Colectiva Bloodys has sent these treatments to conservative-led US states such as Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia for a few years and expects more requests following the Supreme Court ruling, said one of its members, Crystal Perez Lira.

“It’s very unfortunate, a huge setback; but we are going to have the capacity and the will” to offer support, Perez Lira said.

Mexican activists had already been surprised by the amount of interest from women in the United States in the cross-border network, launched in January in the face of obstacles to accessing a safe abortion.

“As of May, we had assisted 200 women who crossed the border and sent 1,000 sets of medicine. We didn’t expect so many,” said Veronica Cruz, founder of Las Libres, one of some 30 groups in the network.

Financial constraints

While the activists had expected mainly Latinas to seek their help, they have also been approached by non-Spanish speakers.

“Most turn to us for financial reasons. Over there the medication costs about $600 or they have to wait weeks to get it from organizations. We give it for free,” Cruz said.

Some of the women seeking assistance in Mexico are reluctant to go to a clinic in the United States because they lack the necessary immigration documents.

“We don’t invade their privacy. We don’t question their legal status or their nationality,” said Perez Lira.

In contrast to the US ruling, Mexico’s Supreme Court last year declared the laws criminalizing abortion unconstitutional, authorizing it de facto throughout the conservative Latin American country.

In Mexico City, which decriminalized abortion in 2007 and provides free care regardless of place of residence, authorities pledged to support women from the United States following the court ruling.

“It’s truly regressive, sad and outrageous that in a country where these rights had been recognized they are going backwards. We’ll be ready to help,” the city’s health secretary, Oliva Lopez Arellano, told AFP.

“We have the capacity for around 25,000 legal terminations a year and now we’re at half that,” she said.

One in 10 of the 247,000 abortions carried out in the city in the past 15 years have been for migrants heading to the United States, most of them Central Americans, she added.

In addition to Mexico City, eight more of Mexico’s 32 states have decriminalized abortion.

 

AFP

20 Containers Stolen In ‘Unprecedented’ Mexico Heist

File photo of containers seen in a port.

 

 

Heavily armed attackers stole 20 freight containers, some carrying gold and silver, from a port in western Mexico in a heist of “unprecedented” proportions, authorities said Monday.

The burglary, described by local media as “the theft of the century,” took place on June 5 in a private compound of a commercial port in the city of Manzanillo on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

After incapacitating the port’s security teams, the assailants used cranes and trucks to move the containers, said state security spokesman Gustavo Adrian Joya.

“This is unprecedented. We had seen sporadic thefts of containers before, but not in such a quantity,” he said, adding that the heist took eight to 10 hours.

“They were very selective in the type of goods they stole: precious metals and other things, like air conditioning units,” the spokesman told reporters.

National customs head Horacio Duarte Olivares said the area where the burglary occurred was not under the jurisdiction of the Navy, which is in charge of port surveillance.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office said it was opening an investigation, but did not give details of the quantities of gold and silver stolen.

Gunmen Kill Mayor In Southern Mexico

Mexico flag

 

Gunmen killed a town mayor in southern Mexico on Wednesday, the local prosecutor said, taking the number of such officials murdered in the country since 2000 to 94.

Ruben de Jesus Valdez Diaz, mayor of Teopisca in Chiapas state, was attacked by shooters on a motorcycle while leaving his home by car, according to an official report.

According to local residents and reporters, an as yet unidentified armed group arrived in the town after the murder and started searching homes.

The killing came just two weeks after videos circulated on social media of another armed group, suspected of drug trafficking links, staking out the same town.

READ ALSO: US Military Aircraft With Five Onboard Crashes In California

The public prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation into the mayor’s death.

Etellekt consultancy wrote on Twitter that “17 mayors have been murdered” in Mexico since December 2018, when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office.

Etellekt said there had been 94 murders of mayors since 2000.

Valdez had served as mayor of Teopisca since June 2021.

Cesar Valencia, mayor of Aguililla in western Michoacan state, was murdered in March.

Aguililla has been badly hit by drug-related violence.

AFP

More Than 100,000 People Officially Missing In Mexico

Workers of Mexico’s City government move a fence with photos of missing persons from the Glorieta de la Palma on Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, after relatives and members of search groups proposed to rename it ‘Glorieta de Las y Los Desaparecidos’ (Roundabout of the Disappeared), in Mexico City, on May 17, 2022.  (Photo by Pedro PARDO / AFP)

 

 

More than 100,000 people are now listed as missing in violence-wracked Mexico, a grim milestone that the United Nations rights chief on Tuesday called “a tragedy of enormous proportions.”

Rights groups appealed for urgent action to tackle disappearances that have skyrocketed during years of spiraling drug-related violence.

The National Registry of Missing Persons, which has been tracking disappearances since 1964, said that as of Monday, the whereabouts of 100,099 people were unknown. About 75 percent are men.

The Movement for Our Disappeared warned that the figure was “certainly well below the number” of actual cases, calling for the government to deal with the crisis “in a comprehensive and immediate manner.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the disappearances represented a “human tragedy of enormous proportions.”

“No effort should be spared to put an end to these human rights violations and abuses of extraordinary breadth, and to vindicate victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition,” she added.

Only 35 of the disappearances recorded have led to convictions — a “staggering rate of impunity” that is “mostly attributable to the lack of effective investigations,” Bachelet’s office said.

– ‘Pattern of impunity’ –
The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances described the situation as “heart-breaking.”

Enforced disappearances are a daily occurrence in Mexico, “reflecting a chronic pattern of impunity,” they added.

The UN committee, which is made up of independent experts, warned in April that Mexico was facing an “alarming trend of rising enforced disappearances.”

Organized crime groups were mainly responsible for these disappearances, “with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” it said.

The committee’s report was rejected by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said his government would not tolerate impunity or corruption.

Frustration at slow progress in official investigations has led families of the disappeared, especially mothers, to form groups that search for clandestine graves using picks and shovels.

The crisis is fueled by the state’s apathy, said Cecilia Flores, the leader of one such group in the northwestern state of Sonora who is looking for her sons Alejandro and Marco Antonio.

“If the authorities did their job, not so many would have disappeared,” she told AFP.

“For them, a disappeared person is one less criminal and one more statistic,” Flores said.

– ‘Staggering number’ –
Authorities say some 37,000 unidentified bodies are being held in forensic services, though civil organizations warn the number could be much higher.

Authorities are working to consolidate a database of the disappeared with genetic samples, though many corpses have been buried without being identified because morgues are overflowing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross described the 100,000 missing as “a staggering number that underscores the immediate need to strengthen prevention, search, and identification mechanisms for those who are missing and their families.”

However, it recognized “important progress” made by Mexico in some areas including identifying the dead and easing the pain of families of the missing.

“The first few hours are the most important,” said Marlene Herbig, head of the ICRC’s missing persons program in Mexico.

“When someone disappears, their relatives have the right to know what has happened. Knowing the fate of disappeared persons is primarily a humanitarian act.”

The first reported disappearances in Mexico date back to the authorities’ so-called “dirty war” against leftist movements from the 1960s to 1980s.

Mexico has also registered over 340,000 deaths — mostly attributed to organized crime groups — since 2006, when a major anti-drug military offensive was launched.

Over 100,000 People Missing In Mexico – Data

 

The number of people reported missing in violence-wracked Mexico has exceeded 100,000, according to official data, with rights groups calling for “immediate” action from the government to locate the disappeared.

The country’s National Registry of Missing Persons — which has been tracking disappearances since 1964 — said that as of Monday, the whereabouts of 100,012 people are unknown. About 75 percent are men.

Disappearances have skyrocketed in the wake of mounting drug violence that has rocked the country for 16 years.

The Movement for Our Disappeared warned Monday that the figure was “certainly well below the number” of cases that are reported daily, calling for the government to “deal with this crisis in a comprehensive and immediate manner.”

Last April, the UN Committee against Enforced Disappearances warned that Mexico was facing an “alarming upward trend” in missing people cases.

Organized crime groups were mainly responsible for these disappearances, the UN body said, with “varying degrees of acquiescence or omission” on the part of public officials.

The lack of official help in investigating the cases has led families of the disappeared, especially mothers, to form groups that search for clandestine graves in the hope of finding their relatives.

The Mexican government has reported that around 37,000 unidentified bodies are being held in forensic services, though civil organizations warn the number could be much higher.

Authorities are working to consolidate a database of the disappeared with genetic samples, though many corpses have been buried without being identified due to the country’s overflowing morgues.

The UN’s top human rights body said the disappearances represented a “human tragedy of enormous proportions.”

“No effort should be spared to put an end to these human rights violations and abuses of extraordinary breadth, and to vindicate victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

The first reported disappearances in Mexico date back to the authorities’ so-called “dirty war” against leftist movements from the 1960s-1980s.

Mexico has also registered over 340,000 deaths — mostly attributed to organized crime groups — since 2006, when a major anti-drug military offensive was launched.

Two Mexican Journalists Killed, Officials Probe Motive

Members of the press and relatives attend a protest against the murder of journalists in the framework of the National Meeting of Journalists, at the Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City on May 9, 2022.  (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP)

 

 

 

Two journalists were murdered Monday in Mexico’s violent eastern state of Veracruz, according to authorities, who said they were investigating whether the crime was related to the women’s work.

Yessenia Mollinedo, director of the news portal El Veraz, and Sheila Garcia, a reporter for the site, were shot in the municipality of Cosoleacaque, the state prosecutor’s office said.

“All lines of investigation will be exhausted, including their journalistic activity,” Veracruz Attorney General Veronica Hernandez said in a statement.

Media rights groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Article 19 said they were gathering information about the double murder.

Mexico is on course for one of its deadliest years yet for the press, prompting calls from rights groups for authorities to end a culture of impunity.

Even before Monday’s murders, nine journalists had been killed in Mexico since the start of the year, according to RSF and Article 19.

Last week Luis Enrique Ramirez, a columnist for the newspaper El Debate, was murdered in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, the stronghold of notorious narco kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel.

In such cases authorities try to determine if the crime was linked to the victims’ work — a task that can be difficult in areas with a strong organized crime presence, like Veracruz.

The Veracruz Commission for the Care and Protection of Journalists urged authorities to make the journalism of Mollinedo and Garcia “the main line of investigation of the cowardly crime.”

More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, with only a fraction of the crimes resulting in convictions.

The victims are often reporters working for local media in states plagued by drug cartel-related violence, many of whom combine journalism with other jobs because of the low pay.

The United States and the European Parliament have urged Mexico to ensure adequate protection for journalists following the recent string of killings.

In Unusual Step, Mexico President Asks Voters If He Should Go

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 10, 2019 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP)

 

 

Mexico will hold its first presidential recall referendum on Sunday, promoted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on whether he should complete his six-year term — an exercise that has split public opinion.

With an approval rating of nearly 60 percent, the midterm popularity test appears unlikely to result in Lopez Obrador’s early departure.

The president argues that submitting himself to the recall referendum is important for democracy, but critics see it as little more than an expensive propaganda exercise.

The 68-year-old self-styled anti-corruption, pro-austerity crusader was elected in 2018 vowing to overhaul Mexico’s “neoliberal” economic model.

Lopez Obrador has promised not to seek reelection in 2024, following accusations by opponents that the referendum is a step towards changing the rules to enable him to stay in power beyond then.

The Mexican constitution limits presidents to one term.

Lopez Obrador “seeks, like any populist politician, to maintain the climate of polarization and encourage the narrative that the people are on his side,” said political consultant Luis Carlos Ugalde, a former head of Mexico’s electoral institute.

But Ugalde is skeptical the vote will smooth the way for Lopez Obrador staying in office beyond 2024.

“Perhaps there will be voices in his party that say he should stay, but the power of that voice will be minimal,” Ugalde said.

A successful result on Sunday could inject momentum into Lopez Obrador’s policy agenda, including controversial energy reforms.

Lopez Obrador’s Morena party lost its absolute majority in the lower house of Congress in legislative elections last year.

The president also has his eye on the 2024 elections and the prospects for his party and possible successors including Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

– ‘Populist exercise’ –
Lopez Obrador has overseen a series of referendums since taking office on controversial issues including his “Maya Train” railroad project, and canceling a partially finished airport for Mexico City.

A public consultation held in August on whether to prosecute his predecessors for alleged corruption drew only a small fraction of voters to the polls.

The midterm recall referendum was incorporated into Mexico’s constitution in 2019 at Lopez Obrador’s initiative.

Some 93 million voters will be able to participate, but many are expected to stay home.

The outcome will be overwhelmingly in favor of Lopez Obrador completing his term, although in any case turnout is likely to be below the 40-percent level needed for the vote to be legally binding, predicted Ugalde.

The opposition parties PAN, PRI and PRD have urged Mexicans to abstain from voting in what they call a “populist exercise.”

Lopez Obrador enjoyed an approval rating of 58 percent in March, although that was far below a peak of 81 percent seen in February 2019, according to a poll of polls by the Oraculus firm.

“It’s kind of an oxymoron to have a recall process when you have a popular president,” said Jorge Buendia, director of public opinion firm Buendia & Marquez.

“The strongest supporters of the president are those that are going to go to the polls,” he told a panel discussion.

Lopez Obrador owes much of his popularity to his social welfare programs aimed at helping the poor, and dominates Mexico’s news agenda with press conferences lasting up to three hours every weekday.

Lopez Obrador’s critics say he is damaging democratic checks and balances with his attacks on bodies including the National Electoral Institute, which the president accuses of undermining the referendum.

“We will defend the National Electoral Institute, which is under attack by the presidency,” said Amado Vazquez, a lawyer attending a protest against Sunday’s vote in the western city of Guadalajara.

The referendum is biased in favor of the government and “in no way a citizen’s vote,” he added.

Pregnant Migrant Abandoned In Truck Dies In Mexico

The map of Mexico.

 

A pregnant Nicaraguan woman died after being abandoned with around 160 other migrants in a truck driven by a people trafficker in northern Mexico, authorities said Monday.

The incident happened on Saturday night in the city of Monclova in the state of Coahuila, which borders the United States, according to officials.

The migrants “were rescued in unbearable conditions,” Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejia told reporters, adding that among them was “a pregnant woman who unfortunately lost her life.”

Another 14 migrants of various nationalities were hospitalized, the National Migration Institute (INM) said.

READ ALSO: More Than 1.7 Million People Flee War In Ukraine, Says UNHCR

The foreigners had been traveling in a truck container “presumably crowded together, without water or ventilation and with an apparent temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit),” the INM said.

The authorities picked up 64 of the migrants including Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Cubans who will be granted humanitarian visas, it said, adding that around 100 others had fled.

Human traffickers commonly hide undocumented migrants in trucks bringing them from Guatemala into Mexico, from where they head north to the US border.

A horrific road accident in December left 56 undocumented migrants dead after the truck transporting them overturned in the southern state of Chiapas.

AFP

Ban On Russian Oil Will Have ‘Catastrophic Consequences’, Moscow Warns

Indigenous Firms Plan To Increase Oil Output
File photo used to illustrate this story.

 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned Monday that a ban on Russian oil imports would have “catastrophic” consequences, as Western allies consider further sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine.

“A ban on Russian oil will lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market. The surge in prices will be unpredictable — more than $300 per barrel, if not more,” Novak said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

Novak added that it would be “impossible” to quickly replace Russian oil on the European market.

“It will take more than one year and it will be much more expensive for European consumers,” he said.

“European politicians should then honestly warn their citizens, consumers what awaits them and that prices at gas stations, for electricity, for heating will skyrocket,” he said.

READ ALSO: More Than 1.7 Million People Flee War In Ukraine, Says UNHCR

Novak said talks of an embargo on Russian oil creates “instability and leads to significant harm for consumers”.

He added that in retaliation for the halt on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, Russia could stop supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

“So far we have not made this decision. Nobody will benefit from this,” Novak said.

“Although European politicians are pushing us to this with their statements and accusations against Russia,” he added.

AFP

22 Wounded In Violence At Mexican Football Match

Supporters of Atlas fight with supporters of Queretaro during the Mexican Clausura tournament football match between Queretaro and Atlas at Corregidora stadium in Queretaro, Mexico on March 5, 2022. (Photo by EDUARDO GOMEZ / AFP)

 

At least 22 people were wounded when violence erupted Saturday in the stands of a Mexican football match, which was called off when the clash spilled onto the field.

The game between Queretaro and Atlas at La Corregidora stadium in the city of Queretaro — the ninth round of the 2022 Clausura football tournament — was in its 63rd minute when fights between opposing fans broke out.

As security guards opened the stadium doors to allow fans to get to safety, some instead continued to exchange blows, forcing the game to be stopped and sending the players to the locker room.

Chaotic scenes unfolded, with fans tumbling over each other and others cowering under a shower of furious kicks and punches.

READ ALSO: At Least Six Killed In US Tornado

A VAR monitor was destroyed during the clashes, with images posted to social media showing injured fans lying prostrate.

“There is no report of people dead, 22 people injured… two of them seriously,” the civil protection for the state of Queretaro said hours after the match was called off.

Liga MX president Mikel Arriola slammed the events on Twitter: “Those responsible for the lack of the security at the stadium will be exemplarily punished. The safety of our players and fans is priority!”

In a video posted on social networks, Arriola announced that all matchday games due to be played Sunday were suspended “in solidarity with the people affected” and to prevent any repetition.

Atlas demanded in a statement that authorities and the league open an investigation into the fight in order to determine “responsibilities to those involved” and ensure “the full force of the law will be applied.”

The Queretaro club also condemned the violence in a statement and said it was in contact with the authorities so that “they act vigorously against anyone responsible.”

Queretaro governor Marucio Kuri said the owners of the club “and institutions must answer for the facts.”

“I have given instructions for the law to be applied with all its consequences,” he tweeted.

AFP

Mexico Economy Grew 5% In 2021, But Ended In Recession

File photo of Mexico.

 

Mexico’s economy grew by five percent in 2021, but Latin America’s second biggest economy headed into technical recession at the end of the year after contracting for a second-straight quarter, preliminary official data showed Monday.

Economic activity slowed by 0.4 and 0.1 percent in the last two quarters of 2021, compared to the previous three-month periods, according to the data from national statistics institute INEGI.

Analysts Capital Economics said in a statement to clients that the fourth quarter data “confirmed that the economy slipped into a recession over the second half of 2021, and we think growth this year will be weaker than most expect.”

Central bank analysts expect the economy to grow 2.7 percent in 2022.

The Mexican economy had shrunk by 8.4 percent in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused mass shutdowns — with 4.9 million Covid-19 cases and more than 300,000 deaths in the nation of 129 million.

INEGI said industrial activity, which represents close to a third of GDP, grew by 6.8 percent last year.

READ ALSO: Man City Sign Argentina Forward Julian Alvarez

Services, worth 60 percent of GDP, rose by 4.2 percent while so-called primary activities — such as farming, fisheries and natural resources extraction — grew just 2.7 percent.

Rather than direct aid to businesses, the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has concentrated its pandemic recovery efforts on social programs and investment in public works, such as the new airport in Mexico City and an oil refinery in the southeast.

Two Children, Others Killed In Mexico Gun Attack

BREAKING: 'Multiple Casualties' As Gunman Opens Fire At US Synagogue
File photo

 

At least eight people, including two children, died in a shooting in a region of central Mexico plagued by turf wars between rival drug cartels, authorities said Wednesday.

Two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at homes in the municipality of Silao in Guanajuato state late Tuesday, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.

A one-year-old and a 16-year-old girl were among the dead, it said.

Guanajuato has become one of Mexico’s most violent states due to fighting between the Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

The gangs are fighting over control of the lucrative drug trafficking and stolen fuel markets.

Two similar attacks left 11 people dead in Silao in mid-November.

Since 2006 when the government launched a controversial anti-drug military operation, Mexico has recorded more than 300,000 murders, according to official figures.

AFP