|The following are selected extracts|
Wal-Mart longed to build in Elda Pineda’s alfalfa field. It was an ideal location, just off this town’s bustling main entrance and barely a mile from its ancient pyramids, which draw tourists from around the world. With its usual precision, Wal-Mart calculated it would attract 250 customers an hour if only it could put a store in Mrs. Pineda’s field.
One major obstacle stood in Wal-Mart’s way. After years of study, the town’s elected leaders had just approved a new zoning map. The leaders wanted to limit growth near the pyramids, and they considered the town’s main entrance too congested already. As a result, the 2003 zoning map prohibited commercial development on Mrs. Pineda’s field, seemingly dooming Wal-Mart’s hopes.
This week's reports from the New York Times about Wal-Mart's practices in Mexico are breathtaking. The Times found "credible evidence that bribery played a persistent and significant role in Wal-Mart's rapid growth in Mexico."
The Times interviewed an executive of Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary who "bought zoning approvals and reductions in environmental impact fees." According to the New York Times, when lawyers for Wal-Mart discovered this activity and informed senior management, then Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott ordered Wal-Mart's internal investigative protocols revised to give the targets of internal investigations more control over those same investigations.
Surrey resident Karla Berenice García Ramírez – an award-winning Mexican journalist facing deportation after Canada rejected her family's refugee appeal – has won her years-long battle for asylum here, the Vancouver Observer has learned.
The whistleblower on government corruption, who fled Mexico after she and her family received numerous death threats because of her reporting, was granted permanent residence last week on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Award-winning Mexican journalist and now whistleblower Karla Berenice García Ramírez, who writes under the penname Karla Lottini, fears for the safety of herself and her family – including her two young Canadian born daughters – as she awaits deportation orders.
In a packed press conference on Thursday January 19, 2012 she made the following statement to the press:
Her voice is strained as Karla Ramirez recounts seeing the butt of a gun, a man telling her she'd better be careful or her body might turn up in an empty lot. Yet she proceeds to name names, defiantly alleging corruption in the highest echelons of a Mexican government ministry that she says she unearthed while working there as a journalist.
"Names are here," she said, thumbing through her book The Talent of Charlatans, at a news conference Thursday. The book was written and published with the help of Vancouver's University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University last July.
One of Mexico's most powerful criminal gangs has muscled into the migrant-smuggling racket, changing what had been a relatively benign if risky industry of independent operators into a centralized business that often has deadly consequences for those who try to operate outside it.
Los Zetas, who earned a reputation for brutality by gunning down thousands of Mexicans in the battle for drug-smuggling routes to the United States, now control much of the illicit trade of moving migrant workers toward the U.S. border, experts in the trade say.
Mexico’s human-rights rhetoric is second to none. It has been like this for a decade. The government has signed or ratified more than 20 human-rights treaties and considered more than 1,000 recommendations from various human-rights organizations.
These fine words and political gestures contradict the failure of successive administrations to tackle the reality of Mexican corruption and impunity – issues intensified by President Felipe Calderon’s “war on drugs.”
Over 35,000 people have died in Mexico’s drug war in the past four years. Many of them were innocent civilians, killed at random by the drug cartels in retaliation for the government’s crackdown on their trade. (15 min)
Video journalist Yaara Bou Melhem meets one of the most vocal people in the fight for action: poet Javier Sicilia, whose son and six friends were victims.
For vacationing Canadians, Mexico is a haven of rest and recreation. But outside the cloistered confines of resorts, death takes no holiday for journalists trying to expose the brutality and corruption surrounding the country’s ongoing “war on drugs.”
A report released Friday says Canada should not turn a blind eye to violations of Mexican journalists’ rights, and that newly appointed Foreign Minister John Baird should put the defence of their rights on his agenda.
On the morning before I arrived in Zitácuaro, a beautiful hill town in the western Mexican state of Michoacán, the dismembered body of a young man was left in the middle of the main intersection.
It was what people call corpse messaging. Usually it involves a mutilated body—or a pile of bodies, or just a head—and a handwritten sign. “Talked too much.” “So that they learn to respect.” “You get what you deserve.”