Insecurity Takes Back Seat to Immigration at Recent Summit between Presidents Enrique Pena Nieto and Barack Obama

By Navarro, Carlos | SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, January 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Insecurity Takes Back Seat to Immigration at Recent Summit between Presidents Enrique Pena Nieto and Barack Obama


Navarro, Carlos, SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico


When Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and US President Barack Obama met at the White House on Jan. 6, the official reports from the summit highlighted one theme where the two leaders had broad agreement--immigration. This was certainly a safe topic, given Obama's executive order last year to ease some immigration restrictions, specifically a proposal to allow certain members of the undocumented-immigrant community to legalize their status in the US (SourceMex, Dec. 10, 2014). This was one issue where a beleaguered Pena Nieto has broad support of Mexican citizens. Speaking after his meeting with Obama, the Mexican president called the immigration initiative an "act of justice" and said his government would do everything in its power to help those Mexicans who qualify for the US immigration program to find the necessary documents.

While the two presidents also reached agreement on minor issues such as border crossings, aviation, and other issues, the elephant in the room was the question of insecurity in Mexico. Two related issues were barely discussed--at least from what we know from the official communiques--the execution of 43 students from the Escuela Rural Raul Isidro Burgos Rural teachers college of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero state, and the continued unabated flow of weapons from the US into Mexico.

There is no record on whether Obama and Pena Nieto engaged in any substantive discussions on the seemingly out-of-control insecurity and violence in Mexico during their summit. The murder of the students from the teachers college in September has attracted angry demonstrations around the country (SourceMex, Oct. 15, 2014, and Oct. 29, 2014). While former mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda are held directly responsible for ordering the killings, and ex-Gov. Angel Aguirre was criticized for looking the other way in the face of corruption, all members of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), the protests are also calling Pena Nieto and the governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) to task. The common complaint is that the administration has done little to resolve the cases. Only the remains of one of the students, Alexander Mora Venancio, have been identified.

Report says federal police, military assisted with Iguala massacre

An investigative report published by the weekly news magazine Proceso in mid-December 2014 uncovered evidence that federal police and military collaborated with the local and state forces in the killing.

The report first mentioned the official version of events. "According to this version, municipal police from Iguala and the neighboring community of Cocula attacked and arrested the students, while the drug cartel Guerreros Unidos killed and burned them, all without the knowledge of federal authorities and the soldiers who were stationed in the area," said Proceso. "Nevertheless, the documents and testimony we have obtained reveal a totally different story."

Proceso said an unpublished report from the Guerrero state government to the federal Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB) indicated that state and federal authorities monitored the students closely. The report mentions in particular the Iguala-based 27th Battalion, which has a history of repression and impunity in Guerrero state.

"We have information that proves the federal government knew what was happening in the moment it was happening, and participated in it," reporter Anabel Hernandez said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "The government has tried to hide this information."

This is the first account indicating that the federal government knew about the plot and that authorities not only failed to take preventative action but also collaborated with the attack by helping collect intelligence. With the report in the hands of SEGOB, it is almost certain that Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong was aware of the federal participation in the attacks. …

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