Mexico Offers Asylum To Bolivia’s Morales, Says Foreign Minister

(FILES) In this file picture taken on December 19, 2005 Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales Ayma waves to supporters in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned on November 10, 2019, caving in following three weeks of sometimes-violent protests over his disputed re-election after the army and police withdrew their backing. Aizar RALDES / AFP

 

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.

I Support The Release Of “El Chapo’s” Son, Says Mexico President

Handout photo released by the Mexican Presidency of Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during a press conference in Oaxaca, Mexico, on October 18, 2019.
HO / Mexican Presidency / AFP

 

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.

Soldiers patrol outside the government palace in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, Mexico, on October 18, 2019. 
ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP

He added the authorities never “formally detained” Guzman, 28, one of at least nine children “El Chapo” fathered with three wives.

READ ALSO: US Court Finds President’s Brother Guilty Of Drug Charges

The six hours of clashes left one civilian and seven soldiers dead, and three police wounded, officials said.

Stinging Criticism

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.

A forensic service employee collects bullet casings after heavily armed gunmen waged an all-out battle against Mexican security forces in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, Mexico, 
ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP

“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.

Murky Facts

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.

Murder Surge

“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.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 8, 2016 Mexican Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted into a helicopter at Mexico City’s airport following his recapture during an intense military operation in Los Mochis, in Sinaloa State.

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.

AFP

Fierce Battles In Mexico As Arrest Of El Chapo’s Son Goes Wrong

 

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.

READ ALSO: Mexico Says Son Of Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Arrested

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.

Mexico Says Son Of Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Arrested

Mexican police patrol in a street of Culiacan, state of Sinaloa, Mexico, on October 17, 2019, after heavily armed gunmen in four-by-four trucks fought an intense battle with Mexican security forces. RASHIDE FRIAS / AFP

 

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.

Mexico Lobbies US For Trade Deal

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during his daily morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City /AFP

 

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.

AFP

Two Killed In Mexico Roller Coaster Crash

The scene of the accident at the La Feria Chapultepec Amusement Park in Mexico that claimed two lives.

 

Two people were killed and two more injured when a rollercoaster carriage derailed at a theme park in Mexico, authorities have said. 

Early reports suggest a mechanical problem caused the carriage to become detatched from the ride and fall some 10 metres to the ground, the public prosecutor said in a statement.

It is believed the two men died as a result of head injuries, it added, while two woman were taken to hospital — one of them in a serious condition.

The accident happened at La Feria amusement park in the capital Mexico City on Saturday.

In a Twitter post, the theme park said it “deeply regrets the terrible accident” and it has launched an investigation into the incident.

AFP

29 Bodies Found In Plastic Bags In Mexico

 

Mexican forensics experts have found at least 29 bodies stuffed in 119 plastic bags that were dumped in the bottom of a well outside the western city of Guadalajara, officials said Tuesday.

“We have 13 complete corpses and 16 incomplete,” and the total could rise as experts continue analyzing the remains, said Gerardo Solis, chief prosecutor for the state of Jalisco, which has been hit by a wave of violence in recent years driven by drug cartel turf wars.

AFP

Death Toll Rises To 28 In Mexico Bar Fire Attack

 

Gunmen burst into a Mexican strip club in a hail of bullets and killed at least 28 people as they trapped revelers inside and started a raging fire, officials said Wednesday.

Many of the dead were dancers who worked there, according to managers.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the “shameful” attack in the city of Coatzacoalcos, and said federal authorities would investigate evidence it may have stemmed from collusion between local authorities and organized crime.

The Tuesday night attack, which also left nine people badly wounded, is the latest to rock the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in turf wars between Mexico’s rival drug cartels and a hotbed of political corruption.

Survivors said gunmen sprayed bullets when they descended on the bar, the Caballo Blanco (White Horse), then blocked the exits and set the club alight.

Because of the loud reggaeton music pounding inside, many patrons and dancers did not notice the attack until the bar was in flames, they said.

Authorities said many of the victims died of smoke inhalation. It was not immediately clear whether some died of gunshot wounds.

“They arrived in several vehicles, with rifles and pistols. They threatened the security guards at the door and took control of the entrance,” one survivor told an AFP reporter, speaking on condition of anonymity, as frantic relatives gathered at the bar looking for their loved ones.

Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia tweeted that authorities had identified one of the attackers as Ricardo “N” — Mexican law bars the release of suspects’ full names — adding that he was a repeat offender known as “La Loca” (“The Crazy One”).

The suspect was previously arrested last month, but was released by state prosecutors within 48 hours, Garcia said.

President Lopez Obrador said federal authorities would investigate why.

“There’s a problem there that needs to be investigated regarding the actions of the Veracruz prosecutor’s office,” said Lopez Obrador, a leftist elected last year on an anti-corruption platform.

“There are two things going on here: one is this shameful act by organized crime, the most inhuman thing possible; the other, which is also reprehensible, is a possible conspiracy with the authorities,” he told a news conference.

The Veracruz prosecutor’s office denied wrongdoing, and said in a statement it was in fact the federal prosecutor’s office that released Ricardo “N.”

Attackers blocked emergency exits

Veracruz is one of the most violent states in the country.

Its location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a strategic route for drug cartels and for human traffickers bringing undocumented migrants to the United States.

Coatzacoalcos, a port city of 235,000 people, has been among those hardest hit by the resulting violence.

The governor told reporters the group that attacked the White Horse was vying for control of the drug trade there.

The interior of the bar was left wrecked and charred. The naked body of a woman who had been mid-routine was sprawled on the dance floor next to the striptease poles.

Ten of the club’s 25 dancers were killed, managers said.

“My niece starting dancing here a few months ago. She was a single mom, and she wanted to give her daughter a better life and go back to school,” said Maria Vazquez, whose 22-year-old niece Sugedy was among the dead.

Local media reported two sailors from the Philippines were also killed. The Philippine embassy in Mexico City said it was investigating the report.

Hit squads, corruption

Mexico, the chief supplier of narcotics to the United States, has been hit by a wave of violence since declaring war on drugs and deploying the army to fight its powerful cartels in 2006.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been murdered, including a record 33,753 last year.

The situation in Veracruz has been particularly grim. Jailed ex-governor Javier Duarte (2010-2016) is accused of presiding over a rash of corruption and human rights abuses.

Two former state police chiefs and a string of ex-officials have been charged with running hit squads that abducted and presumably killed unwanted individuals during Duarte’s administration.

How Attackers Killed 26 In Mexico Bar Fire

 

Gunmen burst into a Mexican strip club in a hail of bullets and killed at least 26 people as they trapped revellers inside and started a raging fire, officials said Wednesday.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the “shameful” attack in the city of Coatzacoalcos, and said federal authorities would investigate evidence it may have stemmed from collusion between local authorities and organized crime.

The Tuesday night attack, which officials said also left 11 people badly wounded, is the latest to rock the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in bloody turf wars between Mexico’s rival drug cartels and a hotbed of political corruption.

Survivors said gunmen sprayed bullets as they descended on the bar, the Caballo Blanco (White Horse), then blocked the exits and set the club alight.

Because of the loud reggaeton music pounding inside, many patrons and dancers did not even notice the attack until the bar was in flames, they said.

Authorities said many of the victims died of smoke inhalation. It was not immediately clear whether some died of gunshot wounds.

“They arrived in several vehicles, with rifles and pistols. They threatened the security guards at the door and took control of the entrance,” one survivor told an AFP reporter, speaking on condition of anonymity, as frantic relatives gathered at the bar looking for their loved ones.

Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia tweeted that authorities had identified one of the attackers as Ricardo “N” — Mexican law bars the release of suspects’ full names — adding that he was a repeat offender known as “La Loca” (“The Crazy One”).

The suspect was previously arrested last month, but was released by state prosecutors within 48 hours, Garcia said.

President Lopez Obrador said federal authorities would investigate why.

“There’s a problem there that needs to be investigated regarding the actions of the Veracruz prosecutor’s office,” said Lopez Obrador, a leftist elected last year on an anti-corruption platform.

“There are two things going on here: one is this shameful act by organized crime, the most inhuman thing possible; the other, which is also reprehensible, is a possible conspiracy with the authorities,” he told a news conference.

The Veracruz prosecutor’s office denied wrongdoing, and said in a statement that it was in fact the federal prosecutor’s office that released Ricardo “N.”

– Attackers blocked emergency exits –
Veracruz is one of the most violent states in the country.

Its location on the Gulf of Mexico coast makes it a strategic route for drug cartels and for human traffickers bringing undocumented migrants to the United States.

Coatzacoalcos, a port city of 235,000 people, has been among those hardest hit by the resulting violence.

The governor told reporters the group that attacked the White Horse was vying for control of the drug trade there.

Some survivors said the attackers doused the nightclub in gasoline to set it alight. Others said they threw Molotov cocktails.

The interior of the bar was wrecked and charred, with chairs overturned and debris littering the floor.

The naked body of a woman who had been mid-routine was sprawled on the dance floor next to the striptease poles.

Outside, anguished relatives cried and embraced as they waited for news, while soldiers, police and paramedics worked the scene.

“I just want to know if he’s OK,” said a mother looking for her son, an employee at the bar, after searching for him in vain at local hospitals.

“Have you seen my daughter? She was a dancer,” said another.

– Hit squads, corruption –
Mexico, the chief supplier of narcotics to the United States, has been hit by a wave of violence since declaring war on drugs and deploying the army to fight its powerful cartels in 2006.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been murdered, including a record 33,753 last year.

The situation in Veracruz has been particularly grim. Jailed ex-governor Javier Duarte (2010-2016) is accused of presiding over a rash of corruption and human rights abuses.

Two former state police chiefs and a string of ex-officials have been charged with running hit squads that abducted and presumably killed unwanted individuals during Duarte’s administration.

At Least 23 Killed, 13 Injured In Mexico Bar Fire

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

At least 23 people were killed and 13 badly wounded in a fire that was likely caused by an “attack” at a bar in eastern Mexico, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The fire in the city of Coatzacoalcos, which broke out Tuesday night, “may have been the result of a vile attack,” said a statement from prosecutors in the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in the bloody turf wars between Mexico’s rival drug cartels.

Media reports said a Molotov cocktail had been thrown into the bar.

AFP

Hundreds Of Mexican Women Protest Alleged Rape Of Teenager By Police

Protesters vandalize a bus stop during a demonstration held under the slogan “#NoMeCuidanMeViolan”. Photo: Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP

 

Hundreds of women demanding protection from Mexico City’s police force took to the streets Friday after a number of high-profile sexual assault cases involving serving officers.

To shouts of “I do believe you!” and “My friends protect me, you don’t,” the initially peaceful rally ended with some participants lighting a fire on the second floor of a police building and vandalizing a bus station.

The protesters also sprayed graffiti on the capital’s Independence Monument, adorning the base of the stone edifice with the slogan “damned pigs!”

Two reports of attacks on women this month have sparked outrage and bitter recriminations against the city’s police force, with protesters mobilizing on social media through the hashtag #NoMeCuidanMeViolan, or “They don’t protect me, they rape me.”

A 17-year-old girl said four police officers assaulted her in a patrol car in the city’s north.

An officer was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old in a museum just days later.

“I worry young women cannot go to school or return from a quiet party because someone will rape them, just because they can,” said Melissa Ortiz, who attended the march.

The 40-year-old said there were few protections for women, especially when the men accused were the authorities “that should be protecting us.”

The city has suspended six police officers as part of the investigation into the 17-year-old’s alleged assault, but no arrests have been made. The prosecution has also said there were inconsistencies with the teenager’s account of the incident.

A man was arrested last week in connection with the alleged attack on the 16-year-old.

Violence against women, in the form of femicide, abuse, harassment and sexual assaults, has intensified in the country in recent years. According to the United Nations, an average of nine women are murdered daily in Mexico.

Hundreds Of Mexican Women Protest Police Rape Of Teenager

 

Hundreds of women demanding protection from Mexico City’s police force took to the streets Friday after a number of high-profile sexual assault cases involving serving officers.

To shouts of “I do believe you!” and “My friends protect me, you don’t,” the initially peaceful rally ended with some participants lighting a fire on the second floor of a police building and vandalizing a bus station.

The protesters also sprayed graffiti on the capital’s Independence Monument, adorning the base of the stone edifice with the slogan “damned pigs!”

Two reports of attacks on women this month have sparked outrage and bitter recriminations against the city’s police force, with protesters mobilizing on social media through the hashtag #NoMeCuidanMeViolan, or “They don’t protect me, they rape me.”

A 17-year-old girl said four police officers assaulted her in a patrol car in the city’s north.

An officer was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old in a museum just days later.

“I worry young women cannot go to school or return from a quiet party because someone will rape them, just because they can,” said Melissa Ortiz, who attended the march.

The 40-year-old said there were few protections for women, especially when the men accused were the authorities “that should be protecting us.”

The city has suspended six police officers as part of the investigation into the 17-year-old’s alleged assault, but no arrests have been made. The prosecution has also said there were inconsistencies with the teenager’s account of the incident.

A man was arrested last week in connection with the alleged attack on the 16-year-old.

Violence against women, in the form of femicide, abuse, harassment and sexual assaults, has intensified in the country in recent years. According to the United Nations, an average of nine women are murdered daily in Mexico.