Monday, December 11, 2006


Mexico, December 11th

Since I'm busy, I'll use a cheat sheet from Mexico Solidarity News: 1. FEDERAL REPRESSION INCREASES IN OAXACA The Calderon administration sent clear signals this week concerning the popular uprising in Oaxaca when federal police arrested Flavio Sosa, one of the most visible leaders of APPO, his brother Horacio, Ignacio Garcia and Marcelino Coache only hours after they agreed to meet with the Secretary of Interior for a new round of negotiations. ... On Friday, December 8, the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), assisted by the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI, similar to the FBI) and the army, arrested five Ministerial Police working in the office of the state Attorney General for possession of stolen vehicles and illegal arms, including nine millimeter and super 38 caliber weapons similar to those used in several assassinations of APPO supporters. The APPO immediately denounced the action as too little and too late. APPO leaders were particularly upset that none of the arrestees were charged with murder. The APPO has long accused state security officials of organizing and participating in paramilitary units that are responsible for at least a dozen murders and dozens of disappearances. The same day, the federal Attorney General assumed control of all criminal investigations associated with the popular uprising in Oaxaca over the past seven months, including assassinations and property damages. Early on the morning of November 29, the PFP dismantled the symbolically important street barricade known as Cinco Senores. ... for Sunday, December 8. As of this writing, details of the march were not available. 2. ZAPATISTAS CALL FOR SOLIDARITY WITH OAXACA ... 3. CALDERON ASSUMES PRESIDENCY AMONG DISCORD AND CONFUSION Felipe Calderon formally assumed the mantle of the presidency from outgoing leader Vicente Fox in a midnight ceremony on December 1 at the heavily guarded presidential quarters Los Pinos. ... 4. CALDERON COMPLETES CABINET Felipe Calderon completed his cabinet this week. Topping the security sector of the cabinet is Eduardo Medina Mora as new Attorney General. As Secretary of Public Security under the Fox administration, Medina ordered the violent intervention of the PFP in Oaxaca, resulting in at least three deaths and the arrest of hundreds of APPO supporters. Medina was also responsible for federal police repression in Atenco on May 4 that left two people dead. Medina recently rejected recommendations by the Federal Human Rights Commission, a government agency, calling for a full investigation of abuses in Atenco. Genaro Garcia Luna will replace Medina as Secretary of Public Security, while General Guillermo Galvan Galvan will head the Defense Department and Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza will lead the Navy. On the political side, Calderon named Francisco Ramirez Acuna as Interior Secretary, the second most powerful position in the Mexican government. Ramirez promised to work closely with the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a hollow promise given his complete rejection of CNDH recommendations when he was governor of Jalisco. Ramirez ordered the infamous repression of demonstrations at a Guadalajara summit meeting that left dozens injured as police beat and tortured arrestees, then ignored efforts by the CNDH to investigate the police repression. The combination of Ramirez with Attorney General Medina promises increased federal intervention in local disputes and more police repression to settle social problems. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano will be the new Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Espinosa has little experience that would recommend her for the position, an indication that foreign affairs in general, and immigration reform in particular, will take a back seat in the Calderon administration. 5. EDUCATION AND CULTURE NOT AMONG CALDERON PRIORITIES President Felipe Calderon presented a budget this week that cuts federal spending on education by 4.5 million pesos, a reduction of about 1.2%. Budget cuts will have the strongest impact in the university sector... Meanwhile, spending on security would increase by 12.4% while income tax rates would decrease from 30% to 28%. Overall, the 2007 budget proposal represents a reduction of 25.5 billion pesos over 2006, though some sectors are due to receive dramatic increases. Pemex, the national petroleum monopoly, would enjoy a 32.5% increase while the Federal Electric Commission budget would increase 15.6%. Calderon, who supports privatization of the energy sector, appears to be offering dramatic budget increases in these sectors to create employment...Social services are programmed for more modest increases, including 9.8% for Social Security (IMSS) and 5.5% for the federal health care program (ISSSTE). Both programs were nearly bankrupted under the Fox administration, and it is unlikely that these modest increases will return either to a state of financial stability. The poverty reduction program Seguro Popular will enjoy a budget increase of 56.4%, increasing the number of recipients from 5.1 million to almost 7 million families, or more than one quarter of the population. Most of the additional funds will be spent on energy subsidies, presumably delivered via Oportunidades, a federal assistance program that proved important to Calderon’s election victory.
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