Much typically depressing news from Mexico. Two weeks ago, gunmen apparently stopped passenger buses in Tamaulipas, selected out young men and then killed them. Seventy-two bodies were later found in mass graves. The discovery was announced as street demonstrations were underway Wednesday calling for an end to the country’s epidemic drug violence. The demonstrations were called by poet and columnist Javier Sicilia whose son, Juan Francisco, was found dead recently along with four friends in a car south of Mexico City. Sicilia lambasted Mexico’s politicians and criminals in an open letter. “It is you, ‘senores’ politicians, and you, ‘senores’ criminals — in quotes because this epithet is given only to honorable people — are with your omissions, your fights and your actions, making the nation vile,” he wrote.
“Drug trafficking goes on. The United States doesn’t care and is not helping us at all,” Sicilia told reporters. “The mafias are here. We should make a pact.” … In a follow-up news conference, Sicilia explained that by “pact” he meant that gangsters should be urged to avoid hurting the public and respect the prisoners they take. … There is also a debate as to whether the government should allow cartels to dominate specific trafficking routes, thus avoiding the bloody turf wars. This notion is so commonly discussed, it has its own terminology: “repartir plazas,” roughly meaning “to award turfs.”
Meanwhile, InSight rounds up recent estimates of Mexican cartel revenue, comments critical of the drug war made by U.S. narcotics and law enforcement adviser William Brownfield, and growing violence attributed to the Independent Cartel of Acapulco.
Juan Ortiz Lopez, Guatemala’s top drug lord and an associate of the Sinaloa Cartel, was captured in a joint U.S.-Guatemalan operation Thursday morning. Soldiers acting on intelligence gathered by Guatemalan agents and the DEA dismounted from helicopters at Ortiz’s Quetzaltenango home, “where he appeared to be only lightly guarded by two men.” Also, Guatemalan Vice Minister of Security Mario Castaneda said there is evidence Zetas in the country trained with former special forces, and may also both be involved in several major weapons thefts. “It’s not so easy to steal 100 or 200 guns,” he said. He also described armed raids by Zetas in convoys containing as many as two dozen armored vehicles.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera traded blows with Bolivian President Evo Morales regarding Bolivian claims to sea access through the Atacama Desert. Bolivia’s access to the sea through the desert was lost to Chile in the 1879 War of the Pacific. “I have heard Evo Morales say ‘Atacama was Bolivian and it will be Bolivian again.’ And I have to say to him, Atacama is Chilean and it will continue to be Chilean,” Pinera said. “The northern territories are Chilean and are so based on international treaties which remain in force.” During the March 24 “Dia del Mar” or Day of the Sea commemoration, Morales said his government was considering a lawsuit before international courts, “The fight for our maritime claim, which has marked our history for 132 years, now should include another fundamental element: to go before international tribunals and organizations, demanding in lawfulness and fairness a free and sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean,” he said.