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Mexico’s biggest soccer legend accused of laundering drug money

August 10, 2017

The US government sanctioned Rafael Márquez and nine businesses that are linked to him.

Mexicans were shocked to see a familiar scourge taint a national hero’s image on Wednesday, when the U.S. government accused soccer legend Rafael Márquez of laundering money for a drug cartel.

Having won four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues with Barcelona, plus more than a dozen other trophies during a career that has stretched over two decades, Márquez is Mexico’s most successful soccer player of all time. The veteran defender has captained Mexico in a record of four World Cups and was in line to lead them into a fifth next year.

A respected leader on and off the field, Márquez is also known for his charity work with disadvantaged youths. In a country stained by cartel violence and political corruption, he is a hero to millions and a symbol of national pride.

But according to a multi-year investigation involving several U.S. and Mexican agencies, even Márquez is not immune to the reach of Mexico’s many drug cartels.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Márquez and 21 others under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for their links to a vast but little-known criminal network run by Raúl Flores Hernández.

In what it described as the largest single action it had ever taken against a Mexican cartel, OFAC also blacklisted 42 businesses, including nine linked to Márquez. All but one are located in the western city of Guadalajara, where the veteran star is currently playing for his boyhood club Atlas…

Click here to read this article in full at VICE News

Viva México Episode 7: That F***ing Wall

August 8, 2017

Former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox made history in Mexico when he ended seven decades of one-party rule by defeating the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the year 2000. But the euphoria did not last long as Fox struggled to implement major changes and the PRI reclaimed power in 2012. Fox has since reinvented himself as a vocal critic of Donald Trump, constantly trolling him on Twitter, and slamming his planned border wall.

In an exclusive interview  Fox tells us why he’s taken on the self-appointed role of Trump’s “shadow” and calls for the legalisation of all drugs. He also defends his vast state pension and admits to making a pact with Mexico’s current president Enrique Peña Nieto against his own party’s candidate in the 2012 election. Watch the full video of our interview below.


Surrender of El Chapo’s godson changes Sinaloa’s gruesome drug war

August 2, 2017

Mexico has experienced a surge in drug-related violence this year

Infamous drug lords rarely hand themselves over to the U.S. government voluntarily. But that’s precisely what Dámaso López Serrano, the godson of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, did after walking through the border crossing at Calexico, California, last Wednesday morning.

The U.S. government has not commented on his arrest or what charges he might face following his surrender, but the timing isn’t entirely surprising, say security analysts familiar with Mexico’s violent drug war.

ópez Serrano’s sudden surrender comes three months after the capture of his father, Dámaso López Nuñez, and amid a series of high-profile losses in the father-son duo’s bloody war with Guzmán’s sons for control of his criminal empire. Having grown increasingly isolated after his father’s arrest, analysts believe López Serrano likely cut a deal to help prosecutors convict his godfather Guzmán, who faces trial in New York’s Eastern District court in April.

Nicknamed “Mini Lic,” López Serrano is known throughout Mexico as a flamboyant playboy who led a group of young cartel assassins called the Anthrax squad. He is famed for flaunting his exotic pets and gold-plated firearms on Instagram and is the subject of a narcocorrido anthem that has been viewed over 213 million times on YouTube

Click here to read this article in full at VICE News

Bodies are piling up in Mexico’s drug war because El Chapo is gone

July 12, 2017

Mexican soldiers and federal police patrol the streets of Guadalajara.

Alejandro Pesqueda was driving home from a party at 3 a.m. on Saturday when a corpse nearly crashed through his windshield.

At first, Pesqueda didn’t realize the large green plastic bag that thumped onto the ground next to him contained a body. But after he stopped his car, he looked up and saw another human-shaped bag hanging from the overpass under which he had just driven.

“If I’d been driving two meters to the right, it would have hit me,” the 29-year-old radio host said of the falling body. “You see this kind of thing in movies or on the news… but this scene made my blood turn cold.”

May was the most violent month in Mexico since records began in 1997.

When he saw police lights approaching, Pesqueda parked across the road. “Two police officers came over with their pistols raised,” he said. “I held my hands up and they asked me what I was doing here. They checked my ID and told me to get out of there because the situation could be misinterpreted. I left feeling really scared.”

Click here to read this article in full at VICE News

Viva México podcast episode 6: The Writings on the Wall

July 9, 2017

In episode six of the Viva México podcast, Booker Prize-winning novelist DBC Pierre tells us how growing up in Mexico influenced his writing and gave him “an extraordinary capability for bullshit”. We also speak to the historian Andrew Paxman about his new biography of William Jenkins, an American magnate who became the richest man in Mexico and “the gringo that Mexicans most loved to hate,” long before Donald Trump. Plus, all the latest on Trump’s meeting with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto at the G20, and the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations.

Paxman’s book “Jenkins of Mexico” is available on Amazon here. We highly recommend it.

Click here to listen to previous episodes of the Viva México podcast

Mexico’s most-wanted: A guide to the drug cartels

July 5, 2017

More than 200,000 people have been killed or have disappeared since Mexico’s government declared war on organised crime in December 2006.

The military offensive has led to the destruction of some drug gangs, splits within others and the emergence of new groups.

With widespread corruption and impunity exacerbating Mexico’s problems, there is no end in sight to the violence.

Which are the most powerful cartels today? And who is behind them?

The Sinaloa cartel

Founded in the late 1980s, the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has long been considered Mexico’s most powerful criminal organisation.

Having outfought several rival groups, the Sinaloa cartel dominates much of north-west Mexico and makes billions of dollars from trafficking illicit narcotics to the United States, Europe and Asia.

However, the cartel’s future is uncertain after Guzmán was recaptured in 2016 following two daring prison breaks. He was extradited to the US in January and now awaits trial in New York…

Click here to read this feature in full at the BBC

Mexico’s unlikely visitor: Leon Trotsky arrived in Mexico with blood on his hands, but quickly became a free speech fighter

June 29, 2017

Leon Trotsky’s ashes are buried at his former home in Mexico City.

Deep, wide holes still mark the walls of the house where Leon Trotsky lived in exile in Mexico City’s bohemian Coyoacán neighbourhood. Granted asylum two decades after leading the Russian Revolution of 1917, Trotsky spent his final years hiding from Soviet assassins and exhorting the importance of free press and artistic expression.

Responsible for the repression and murder of thousands of political opponents during Russia’s Red Terror, Trotsky was an unlikely advocate for free speech. Yet, having been exiled by Joseph Stalin and airbrushed from Soviet history after losing out in a power struggle with his former comrade, he was no stranger to censorship himself.

Embraced by a small community of artists and intellectuals, Trotsky stayed active in Mexico, founding a local Marxist magazine and launching an international initiative for revolutionary art. Then he was murdered by a Stalinist agent.

Trotsky was reading at his desk when he was murdered by a Stalinist agent armed with an ice pick.

A century on from the Russian Revolution and 80 years since Trotsky arrived in Mexico, his time there continues to pique public interest. His former home, now a museum, draws some 17,000 foreign visitors and 50,000 Mexican students a year, while The Chosen, a new film based on his assassination, was bought by Netflix and released in 190 countries in April.

Trotsky’s presence in Mexico, a nation that had only emerged from its own decade-long revolution in 1920, proved divisive from the outset. The socialist-leaning president Lázaro Cárdenas had offered him asylum after Trotsky had difficult spells in Turkey, France and Norway, but the decision did not go down well with Mexico’s Kremlin-backed communist party nor left-wing newspapers…

This article is available for free for a limited time at Index on Censorship