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Mexico captures, releases, then recaptures ‘El Menchito,’ son of powerful drug lord

July 2, 2015
"El Menchito" was arrested for the third time in 18 months on Wednesday.

“El Menchito” was arrested for the third time in 18 months on Wednesday.

The U.S.-born son of one of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords has been captured, released, and re-captured in less than 10 days, in a farcical series of events that analysts say raises questions about the competence of Mexico’s police and judicial institutions.

Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, the suspected second-in-command of the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel, had also been detained and released in 2014.

Known as “El Menchito,” Oseguera, 25, was born in California and holds dual US-Mexican citizenship. Federal forces arrested him in the early hours of June 23 during a joint police and army raid on his home in the Zapopan suburb of the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, authorities said.

Charged with organized crime and money laundering, Oseguera was then transferred to the Altiplano maximum-security prison in the State of Mexico on Saturday…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News.

Mexico’s indigenous tribes used to get wasted on these prehispanic brews

June 29, 2015
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Nino Leon has sold tejuino and tepache in Guadalajara for almost 50 years.

“Before the Spanish arrived here, the tribes used to prepare these drinks as a kind of potion to get drunk,” Nino Leon tells me as he serves up two glasses of tepache and tejuino from the metallic vats wedged in the backseat of his weathered Ford Taurus.

“Nobody knows the precise origin of these drinks but they’ve always been most common in Jalisco and the surrounding areas of western Mexico,” he says.

A plump 66-year-old from Guadalajara, the Jalisco state capital, Leon is a father of two and grandfather of six. For 48 years he has supported his family by selling tepache and tejuino out of the back of his car.

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Tepache (left) and tejuino (right) are made from fermented pineapple and maize respectively.

“I was 18 years old when my grandfather taught me how to make tepache and tejuino,” he says. “I still prepare them just the way he showed me. There are other brewers who have newer methods, but this is the traditional way.”

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE Munchies.

Oxfam study highlights Mexico’s drastic wealth inequality crisis

June 26, 2015

Mexico-inequality

The level of inequality in Mexico is so extreme that its four wealthiest inhabitants have amassed fortunes equivalent to nine percent of the nation’s GDP, while 53.3 million people (45.5 percent of the population) live in poverty.

The extent of Mexico’s rampant and rapidly worsening wealth disparity was laid bare in a study released by international charity organization Oxfam on Wednesday.

The report, entitled “Extreme Inequality in Mexico: Concentration of Economic and Political Power,” reveals that while GDP per capita increased by less than one percent per year, the fortune of the 16 richest Mexicans quintupled between 1996 and 2014.

Mexico’s economy has stagnated in this period, and the number of people living in poverty has grown considerably, while the nation’s wealthiest man, telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, has built up a fortune that equates to almost six percent of Mexico’s GDP…

Click here to read this article in full at Latin Correspondent.

Dance contest video is latest instance of young people in Mexico glorifying the Nazis

June 24, 2015

The signs bearing swastikas on either side of the stage warned the audience that this was not going to be a typical dance-cheer performance. Wearing matching black outfits and red armbands, the young dancers took the stage to the sound of ominous classical music and recordings of Adolf Hitler blaring from speakers.

Giving the occasional Nazi salute, they danced aggressively alongside a more passive, white-clad group who represented the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The three-minute routine culminated with dancers pulling a huge swastika flag over their heads, to enthusiastic applause inside the main university auditorium in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.

At first little attention was paid to the May 31 performance, which was part of the ACMX cheer-dance contest in Mexico. But when footage went viral on YouTube this month, it quickly sparked outrage across the country…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News. 

Mexicans denounce Donald Trump’s outrageous xenophobic rant

June 19, 2015

Real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump provoked a fierce backlash in Mexico this week after making crude, xenophobic comments while announcing that he intends to run for president of the U.S. next year.

“When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending the best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”

“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” the aspiring Republican Party candidate added, “and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Predictably, the racist outburst caused a furor on both sides of the border. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans immediately slammed Trump’s offensive comments, while the international press exposed the deep flaws in his argument…

Click here to read this article in full at Latin Correspondent.

Guadalajara is the money laundering capital of Mexico

June 14, 2015
Lucrecia closed in January, 13 months after being designated for money laundering by the US Treasury Department.

Lucrecia closed 13 months after being designated for money laundering by the US Treasury Department.

There was nothing unusual about the fresas, or preppy rich kids, who used to order liquor by the bottle and dance to electronic beats behind the stone and glass façade of Guadalajara’s trendy Lucrecia nightclub. But the first indication that something untoward was happening at the club came in March 2013, when unidentified customers shot the head waiter eight times on their way out.

The shooting drew unwelcome attention to Lucrecia. Thirteen months later, the US government blacklisted it for allegedly laundering dirty money on behalf of veteran drug cartel capo Rafael Caro Quintero.

The bar finally closed down in January this year, saying with a Facebook post: “Legends never die!” But there are plenty of other places in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, that are believed to be helping drug gangs launder their illicit profits.

The luxury Zotogrande residential complex was linked to veteran kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero.

The luxury Zotogrande residential complex was linked to veteran kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero.

Consequently, Tapatios, as Guadalajara natives are known, can never be sure when they shop, eat, drink, dance, fill up their gas tanks, or even pay their rent if they may be inadvertently helping the Jalisco New Generation cartel and other gangs that have terrorized the population and paralyzed the city with narco-blockades.

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News. 

Jalisco election results signal major shift in Mexican politics

June 12, 2015
Pedro Kumamoto led a tireless grassroots campaign to become the first independent candidate elected to the Jalisco state congress.

Pedro Kumamoto led a tireless grassroots campaign to become the first independent candidate elected to the Jalisco state congress.

Preliminary counts indicate that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is on course to retain a slim majority in the federal congress after Sunday’s midterm elections, but results in several local contests have shown that cracks are beginning to form in Mexico’s political establishment.

Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez was widely hailed for becoming the nation’s first independent governor by claiming the northern state of Nuevo León, although his outsider credentials have been questioned, because he previously served in the PRI for 30 years and unsuccessfully sought the party’s candidacy ahead of this year’s elections.

Arguably the most surprising and significant results came in the western state of Jalisco, where two relatively new political forces focused on enhancing transparency and civic engagement won historic victories…

Click here to read this article in full at Latin Correspondent.

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