UNAM students protest violence by ‘porros’ on campus

It may have been a daunting task, but the group of a dozen or so students seemed determined to scrub the graffiti off the side of the most famous building on the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), while wearing surgical-style masks to avoid inhaling the pungent mix of water and paint thinner.

“We are for freedom of expression, but not like this,” said Karen Aketzali García Miranda, who joined the clean-up group on Sept. 7 at the end of a tumultuous week at the largest and most storied university in Latin America.

Earlier that week, on Sept. 3, a group of students from one of UNAM’s many affiliated schools and colleges held a demonstration in front of the rectory at UNAM’s main campus.

A young girl rests on a ‘Made in CU’ (Ciudad Universitaria) sign in the shadow of the Biblioteca Central on Sept. 7, 2018, amid the calm of UNAM’s main campus just two days after a protest against university officials drew 30,000 people (Tim MacFarlan)

The gathering in the south of Mexico City was small, with the students intending to present a petition with a list of seven demands to UNAM Rector Enrique Graue Wiechers.

According to reports, about 40 people arrived at the protest site in cars and proceeded to attack the students with sharp weapons, large sticks, stones, firecrackers, and Molotov cocktails.

Fourteen protestors were injured, including two who sustained serious injuries—one of whom is thought to have been stabbed.

The attacks were carried out by members of so-called “porros,” mercenary groups also known as “grupos de choque,” or “shock groups.”

Volunteer student cleaners belt out UNAM’s famous ‘Goya’ chant in front of the Biblioteca Central (Tim MacFarlan)

These gangs of young men are often officially registered as students but have a darker purpose than getting a degree.

They are heirs to a long history of attackers, allegedly acting with the tacit approval of authorities intending to crack down on protests.

Read the full story here at epochtimes.com

Pictured at the top of this post, Miguel Ángel Romero Castillejos, 18, helps with the voluntary effort to scrub graffiti from the walls of the Biblioteca Central at UNAM (Tim MacFarlan)

Mexico a ‘war zone’ for journalists

The situation for journalists in Mexico is comparable to some war zones and it’s only getting worse, according to press freedom advocates.

The murder of a cameraman in the tourist city of Cancún is the latest fatal attack on a media worker.

Javier Enrique Rodríguez Valladares, who worked for local television station Canal 10, was shot dead in a central part of the coastal resort between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on August 29, according to local news reports.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that the 31-year-old, who was due to get married on August 31, was gunned down alongside another man to whom he may have been selling a car.

Many Mexican journalists have to maintain other sources of income because the pay and conditions on offer from their main employers are poor.

Javier Enrique Rodríguez Valladares has become the latest Mexican journalist to die violently

Though the attorney general’s office for the state of Quintana Roo announced there was so far no indication Rodríguez Valladares’ death was linked to his work, a motive for the killing has yet to be established.

He has become the third journalist to be killed in Quintana Roo in just over two months after Rubén Pat Cauich José and Guadalupe Chan Dzib were both shot dead.

Read the full story here at epochtimes.com

Pictured at the top of this post is the cordoned off home in Mexico City where Luis Pérez García, an 80-year-old journalist, was found bludgeoned to death (Tim MacFarlan)

‘A spectacular night’: Guatemalans rejoice as two-year FIFA ban ends with win

It took just eight minutes for the first goal to go in – but in reality it had been a lot longer in coming than that.

After 709 days or nearly two years in the footballing wilderness, the Guatemalan mens’ national team announced their return from a FIFA corruption ban with a 3-0 victory over Cuba at the national stadium in Guatemala City on Wednesday night (August 15).

The crowd of more than 17,000 at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, most of them decked out in the light blue and white colours of the ‘Azul y Blanco’ as the national team are known, erupted at José Márquez’s opening goal.

It was on September 6, 2016 that a Guatemalan mens’ national football team last took to the field after the sport’s world governing body banned them from all competition in the wake of a corruption scandal at the very top of the country’s national football federation.

But all that melted away in the celebratory atmosphere of a comfortable home win, with fans indulging in Mexican waves and raising frequent shouts of ‘Guate!’, their country’s abbreviated name.

Excited Guatemala fans line the streets before the game at the national stadium

Guatemala’s ban was imposed in October 2016 after a drawn-out wrangle with FIFA over corruption among leading figures in Guatemalan football.

First Brayan Jimenez, former president of the Guatemalan national football federation (known as Fedefut, thanks to its Spanish initials) was arrested in December 2015 on corruption charges.

He and Hector Trujillo, a former judge and secretary general of Fedefut, were accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a US media company for the rights to market and transmit World Cup qualifying matches, as reported by Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.

In October last year Trujillo was sentenced to eight months in prison in a hearing at federal court in Brooklyn in the US having previously pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.

Judge Pamela Chen also ordered him to pay $415,000 in restitution over the $175,000 he had pocketed.

The atmosphere was joyous as supporters celebrated Guatemala’s first game in nearly two years

Jimenez is to be sentenced next month by the same judge having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit electronic fraud over $400,000 in bribes allegedly paid to him, Trujillo and another Guatemalan football official, Rafael Salguero.

Amidst all this the refusal by another Guatemalan sporting body, the Autonomous Sporting Confederation of Guatemala, to accept new anti-corruption statues FIFA had proposed for Fedefut, was the move that sealed the ban in October 2016.

Only in May this year when Fedefut finally agreed to submit to being run by a FIFA ‘normalisation committee’ until at least May 2019, was the ban lifted.

The saga has left some bitterness among Guatemalan fans towards FIFA, an organisation not known for its probity in recent years.

Armando Mazariegos, 39, a university professor from Guatemala City, said before Wednesday night’s game: “We are not a very important country for FIFA so they wanted to make an example of us – ‘Guatemala we can punish to make a point to the world’, but the big countries are still in some way untouchable.”

Fans sing the national anthem before kickoff

But most fans seemed to feel the punishment was justified and there had been – and even continues to be – corruption in Guatemalan football, as there is across many other parts of society in this beautiful but troubled country.

Monica Figueroa, an architect, said: “I feel there’s a lot of corruption in Guatemalan football and our best sportsmen have not been able to play.

“Unfortunately the sport is not very transparent and clean.

“I think the punishment was fair. There’s been a lot of corruption and still there is, for sure.

“But imagine it coming from FIFA – and we’re even worse!”

Andrés Heredia, a 36-year-old publicist who correctly predicted Guatemala would win 3-0, added: “There’s a lot of corruption in the country and a lot of things that aren’t good.

“But football is a sport that unites people and unites the world and for us we’re very happy to be here today.

A cameraman trains his lens on the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores field before the game

“I believe the ban was fair for the corruption and those who are corrupt should be punished but the players themselves don’t deserve it.

“Unfortunately it’s all a chain linked to other things.”

But the final word was one of joy at finally being back in the game.

Speaking after the match, college student Ivan Flores, 18, said: “I’m happy and content because it’s been two years since the team played in that stadium and I’m very moved as well by the support for Guatemala.

“I think the ban was harsh but I’m glad it’s been lifted and we played so well. I think the mentality of the team was great and I really enjoyed the game.

“It’s been a spectacular night and very important for the country.”

Lost ecological wonder could hold key to making Mexico City sustainable

Mexico City is facing multiple ecological crises – it is sinking, drowning and drying out, all at the same time.

The city is built on layers of clay and lava rock which used to be at the bottom of a giant lake system.

In the absence of these lakes the city gets its water from aquifers below ground, the draining of which and paving over of the surface with concrete is causing the city to sink, in rainy season perversely flooding some areas whose residents don’t have running water.

Pedro Camarena, a landscape architect at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), thinks he has a solution – bringing back the native volcanic rock landscape of the Pedregal region of the city to allow water to percolate back through the soil and refill the dwindling aquifers.

It could help do what generations of city government have failed – make Mexico City sustainable for the future.

My piece for TRT World.

Inside the Sinaloa cemetery famous for its $500,000 narco tombs

Even in death, Sinaloa drug lords can’t resist showing off the enormous power and wealth obtained thanks to their murderous careers.

In a cemetery on the outskirts of Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa and home of the infamous cartel of the same name, some of the most elaborate and expensive mausoleums in the world mark the final resting place of dozens of former ‘narcotraficantes’ – or narcos.

Costing up to $500,000 each and featuring gold-plated domes, Italian marble and luxuries like wifi, air conditioning and satellite TV, many of the tombs at the Jardines del Humaya are like mini-mansions.

But the gaudiness at the cemetery 15 minutes’ drive from the center of Culiacán hides the grisly reality of the lives of many of their inhabitants.

I visited early in the morning with journalist and Culiacán native Miguel Angel Vega – early because come the afternoon and evening friends and family are known to hold parties for the deceased at their gravesides and some do not take kindly to visitors.

Read the full story at foxnews.com

‘Corrupt’ medical orderly ‘murdered family of five’ after botched kidney transplant deal

Jorge Alberto Ceballos posing with a Porsche

A medical orderly has been accused of selling organs, operations and job promotions at a hospital in Chihuahua – then murdering five family members when one deal went sour.

Jorge Alberto Ceballos is said to have run a racket selling job placements to health care workers and body organs to patients at Morelos General Hospital.

Pictures on social media show him posing with some of the 10 luxury sports cars he was allegedly able to buy with the proceeds from his corrupt enterprise.

And he is alleged to have carried out seven murders while running his dirty network.

Read the full story at dailymail.com

Moment fatal blast rips through Tultepec firework factory

This is the horrifying moment a fatal blast rips through a makeshift Mexican firework factory.

The explosion in the town of Tultepec, north of Mexico City, came just minutes after earlier blasts brought emergency services and bystanders rushing to the scene.

The blast happens in a split second and you can see how the people standing watching what had been a fire had little time to take cover.

Some of those who did so were killed in this explosion, including at least four firefighters, two police officers and a civil defence worker who were among the 24 reported fatalities.

The man who took the video was one of those who arrived after the initial explosions yesterday morning and hours later was still too upset to talk.

Guadalupe Romero

He was just yards away when the explosion ripped apart one of the factory buildings while emergency crews were trying to help those already injured.

Firefighters can be seen scurrying around the factory as they try to extinguish the flames.

Tultepec resident Guadalupe Romero was working in his furniture shop a few hundred yards away when he felt the first blasts at around 9.40am on Thursday morning (July 5).

The 64-year-old said: “They were very strong. The doors of nearby houses were blown off and the ground shook like an earthquake.

“There were injuries and pieces of bodies flying around.  Some friends of mine were killed.”

Tultepec is famed for its dozens of fireworks factories where deadly explosions are all too common.

Accidents have killed at least 70 people in less than two years, including one last month that killed seven and injured eight and a blast which levelled a fireworks market in the town, killing 35 people in December 2016.

Read the full story at thesun.co.uk

 

AMLO closes campaign sure of victory

Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador can certainly draw a crowd.

AMLO, as he is better known, closed his third presidential campaign by filling the giant Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for a final rally.

But unlike his two losing campaigns for the presidency, in 2006 and 2012, this time it appears nothing can stop the veteran leftist from taking power following the vote on July 1.

Mexicans fed up after six years of current president Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI finally appear ready to trust a man who alienated too many centrist voters during his two previous runs for the top job.

Wednesday night’s rally (June 27) felt more like the coronation of a man whose lifelong dream of leading Mexico finally appears within his grasp.

Homophobic chant row ‘should not overshadow Mexico’s progress’ – on football pitch and off

A homophobic football chant which has again had Mexican fans in trouble with FIFA could be heard ringing out across Mexico City on Saturday (June 23).

But it was not coming from fans of El Tri, the Mexican national team, but participants in the city’s 40th annual Gay Pride parade.

The milestone event immediately followed Mexico’s victory over South Korea in their second game of the World Cup.

The city was packed with fans just like those whose use of the word ‘puto’, slang for a male prostitute, to try and put of goalkeeper Manuel Neur during El Tri’s clash with Germany in Moscow in their opening match, brought a $10,000 fine from FIFA.

But among the hundreds of thousands of LGTB rights advocates filling the streets of the capital on Saturday many could be heard ‘taking back’ the slur which has threatened to cast a shadow over Mexico’s brilliant start to the World Cup.

Javier Duarte’s fugitive wife Karim Macías filmed in west London enjoying life of luxury

Karime Macías in secret camera footage filmed in London

The wife of disgraced former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte has been filmed living the high life in London as she too is investigated for embezzlement.

Karim Macías is now the subject of an Interpol red notice after current Veracruz governor Miguel Ángel Lunes Linares issued an arrest warrant for her.

Macías’s husband Javier Duarte is in custody in Mexico facing accusations he and his associates looted $3.2 billion US from the state which he ran between 2010 and 2016.

She herself is accused of embezzling 112 million pesos of public funds during that period – around $5.65 million at today’s exchange rate.

It does not seem Macías will be hard to find. In a press conference yesterday (May 29), Linares played an eight-minute video to reporters appearing to show her going about a life of luxury in Belgravia in West London.

Read the full story at mailonline.co.uk