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Storms, reforms, arrests and unrest marked Mexico in 2013

December 27, 2013

Elba_Esther_Gordillo

2013 was a very significant year in Mexico, with the PRI finally passing major fiscal, educational and energy reforms, the most notable and controversial of which will allow private investment in the state-owned oil monopoly Pemex, despite the best efforts of many vocal protesters.

International media coverage of drug-related violence in Mexico dropped slightly this year, with the Enrique Peña Nieto administration keen to draw attention to its reformist agenda. Most counts show there has been a slight drop in the number of murders in Mexico, but a rise in the number of reported kidnappings and extortion attempts.

Despite saying he would put less emphasis on bringing down kingpins and more on reducing the low-level violence that affects the general population, Peña Nieto seems to have done the opposite and persevered with Felipe Calderon’s militarized kingpin strategy, bringing down the heads of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, while sending the army into the problem state of Michoacan.

Soon after assuming office, Peña Nieto took the populist decision to put the corrupt and widely loathed head of the national teachers’ union, Elba Esther Gordillo, behind bars. However, this seems to have been only a superficial stand against corruption. The government showed its true colors in August when Raul Salinas de Gortari, the disgraced brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who served as Peña Nieto’s political mentor, was exonerated of all charges against him and had a vast fortune of frozen assets returned to him.

The early release and subsequent efforts to recapture Guadalajara Cartel founder Rafael Caro Quintero also proved highly controversial, with the US angered by Mexico’s decision to release the man convicted of torturing DEA agent Enrique Camarena, and several former DEA and CIA agents then alleging that the CIA had worked closely with Caro Quintero throughout the Iran-Contra scandal.

Another of the year’s biggest news stories was that of the two hurricanes that struck Mexico in September, wreaking havoc across the country and leaving Acapulco particularly devastated.

But there were some more positive stories this year, as Mexico took several steps toward sexual preference equality and two women in Guadalajara eventually claimed a happy ending in their fight for the right to marry.

Ten most popular stories of 2013

This has been The Tequila Files’ most successful year to date, with the site getting almost 80,000 hits in the last 12 months. To celebrate, here’s a recap of the ten most popular stories of the year.

The focus seems to be mostly on murders, drug violence, tequila and births in unusual circumstances. I don’t know if that says more about Mexico, this blog or its readers!

10. Police officer killed as violence flares up on Jalisco’s southern coast (600+ hits)

9. Raicilla: Mexican moonshine or Jalisco’s most overlooked liquor? (600+)

8. ‘Nine-year-old’ gives birth in Guadalajara (600+)

7. Serafin, son of ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, arrested in Nogales (700+)

6. US says Viejo Luis tequila is a front for Guadalajara drug gang (800+)

5. Mexican soccer legend witnessed clown murder Tijuana kingpin (900+)

4. US citizen murdered in break-in at Vallarta home (1,000+)

3. Toddler murdered on vacation in Sayulita (1,500+)

2. Neglected indigenous woman gives birth outside hospital (2,600+)

1. Top ten Mexican movies (3,100+)

Thanks again to everyone for reading the blog. This has been a year of change for me, as I left the Guadalajara Reporter after a very enjoyable two-and-a-half years and took up a part-time editorial position with Nearshore Americas, a more business-orientated site. In 2014 I will continue to update this blog as I explore new opportunities and aim to secure more freelance work with international media outlets. I wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year.

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