Friday, February 12, 2010

President Felipe Calderón in Juárez

Mexican President Felipe Calderón will share plan to quell violence during visit.

Ciudad Juarez had a huge military and police movilization as a result of the visit from President Felipe Calderón who arrived in order to talk to the relatives of the students that were killed last month.

He is also here to analyze the comprehensive strategy on security.

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Mexican President Felipe Calderón will respond to concerns about the alarming violence in Juárez during his visit today to the border city.

The president, who's come under fire for how the war against the drug cartels has turned out, is expected to unveil his Juárez Intervention Plan.

Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said the plan represents the collaboration of Mexican local and federal governments and will include the entire community's views.

Residents have complained about the unprecedented murders of more than 4,500 men, women and children since January 2008.

The killings continue unabated despite the presence of thousands of soldiers and federal agents, leading critics to question the government's strategy up to now.

The deaths reached a new climax with the Jan. 31 massacre of 16 youths and adults during a birthday party in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood in northeast Juárez.

Some families of the victims, most of whom were young students, blamed Calderón's government for what happened. Authorities have said drug gangs were responsible for the slayings.

Human-rights activists also faulted Mexico's president for sending soldiers to Juárez to battle the cartels.

The border city has been the site of a bloody feud between drug traffickers loyal to the Carrillo Fuentes drug organization and followers of kingpin Joáquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera.

Nationally, more than 17,000 people have been killed throughout Mexico since the drug wars began. However, officials have conceded that most of the casualties stem from cartel-on-cartel violence, rather than from a frontal assault by government forces against the cartels.

Fernando Gomez Mont, Mexico's federal interior secretary, met earlier this week in Juárez with various community leaders. He also visited families of the massacre victims.

"President Calderón will communicate his comprehensive strategy directly to the people of Juárez," Gomez told reporters, without providing details.

The President's Plan

President Felipe Calderón said the military will not be withdrawn and he will continue to support alternatives to Ciudad Juarez and other municipalities, including Guadeloupe and Paloma.

In presenting his comprehensive safety plan to the Juárez community, he defended the military of the charges of alleged human rights violations.

He also requested public proof of allegations against the armed forces.

During the meeting this afternoon, he proclaimed that "all of us are Juarez, let us rebuild the city." Calderon said that it would be a mistake to think that the mere presence of federal forces will solve the problem of this city.

Therefore, he said that his program includes aspects of education for a healthy community and citizen participation.

The president acknowledged that it would be irresponsible to say that this is will be resolved in 15 days and warned that this struggle will require more money, time and probably cost even more lives.

The president then looked at the governor, "I suggest Mr. Governor that we meet next week, how does Wednesday sound?"

The President faces the people of Juarez

“Te disculpas y te vas”

After hours of protests, demads and seeing from far away the sign directed to him that said: "apologize and leave," the President of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, offered "the most heartfelt of apologies" to the families of the young people massacred on Saturday night January 30th at Villas Salvárcar.

"I offer my deepest condolences" and "my heartfelt apology," the president said during his first public appearance during his tour to worn out Ciudad Juarez where he was received by students, activists and relatives of the murdered boys in Salvárcar Villas, that also included angry protests inside and outside the convention center.

The apology was referring to the unfortunate statements he made to the international press during his trip to Tokyo, and said he understood "perfectly the discomfort and irritation that he may have generated" with his words.

"Whatever may have been the meaning of my words, I told those parents that I had and offered them my heartfelt apologies if any of those words had offended them and the memory of their children."

"It is clear and I have said since then and I reiterate now, that the boys were role models, athletes, students, good students and good children, and is how we would want them to be everyone's children," he said.
 
He also stressed the need for Juarenses to "listen to what we propose, to critique. This problem is not just for Juarez, we take it as our own," he said, and reiterated that the tragic events "hurt us all of Mexico."

The apology, however, did not stop the protest from the mothers of the victims:

Luz Maria Davila, a mother of one of the victims of the massacre, rose from her place located in the front row next to the podium, and gave the president her back throughout his speech.

One of the mothers of the 15 young people murdered interrupted the speech of the state governor José Reyes Baeza and requested direct intervention by President Felipe Calderón to resolve this massacre and demanded an apology from the president for saying that the young people killed in Ciudad Juarez were all gang members.

"My two sons were students, one was in college and the other was in high school, they both work to pay for school and they had no time to be invloved in gangs. Mr. President how do you explain and how do you justify saying that the youths that were massacred were gang members? My children and their friends were students, not gang members," she told the president with tears in her eyes.

She also requested for his help to address the neglect of the local government to deal with the problem of violence in Juarez.

For their part, the Mexican President Felipe Calderón and the attendees remained silent and listened to the heartbreaking words of frustration that she spoke about the multiple homicide, where two of her sons were brutally murdered.

"Mr. President if you had lost your two sons and I lost them, I assure you that you would move land and sea to find the murderers ... Please do that for my children," she pleaded.

Finally the woman came out of the area that divided the President Felipe Calderón from the public and was consoled by the wife of President Margarita Zavala.

The Juarez Mayor

The mayor of Ciudad Juárez José Reyes Ferriz was booed by business people and representatives of various civic organizations, during his presentation of the event "we are all Juarez, let us rebuild the city," he went on to say to the many that have left the city but only the brave remain.

When the mayor said this phrase he was heavily booed, while people kept shouting; "you are the fake, you live in El Paso," "How dare you talk about courage, you who abandoned us," "renounce!"

As the seconds went by, he called to build a city without problems, at which time he was again interrupted and they shouted, "it will only be achieved without you."

Police disperse protest against Calderón in Juárez.

A protester is carried away by police outside a convention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. Protesters demanded the president resign after a recent massacre that killed 15 teenagers with no known gang ties.

Mexican police had broken up a protest against Calderon's visit to a northern border city terrorized by drug gang violence.

Police dragged away dozens of demonstrators outside a convention center where Calderon is to announce a new plan for curbing violence in Ciudad Juarez and other cartel strongholds.

The protesters are demanding the president resign after a recent massacre blamed on drug gangs in the city across from El Paso, Texas. Many of the 15 dead were teenagers with no known gang ties.

The protesters held signs Thursday reading "Calderon out!" Police forced them across the street, shoving them through muddy puddles.

After several hours of demonstrations outside the convention center Cibeles, the Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont came outside to address the discomfort of the Protestants.

The protesters said that they were not attacking anyone and had no reason to be attacked by federal agents.

To which the Secretary responded favorably, and moved away the police forces, but he also suggested that they move away from the exhibition.

But the nearly two hundred protesters began shouting "Murderer" to President Calderon.

Gomez Mont came out again as the repeateded chanting from protesters interrupted the speeches made by various officials and was told that people from outside were being beaten by the police as protesters wanted to enter the convention center at any cost.

Finally President Calderon gave an order to the Interior Secretary to go outside and tend to the matter.
 
Mexican Interior Secretary Quits Ruling Party.

Mexico's interior secretary made a sudden split from President Felipe Calderon's ruling conservative party, dealing it a new political blow on top of flagging support due to drug gang violence and an economic downturn.

Fernando Gomez Mont did not explain why he dropped out of the National Action Party, or PAN, but he recently clashed publicly with its leaders over their decision to form an alliance with Mexico's main leftist party to win local elections.

The decision is sure to raise tensions between Calderon and his point man in the government's bloody battle to crush brutal drug cartels, and it prompted speculation that Gomez Mont may step down from his Cabinet post.

"The relationship between Calderon and Gomez Mont probably won't be the same," said Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst with Mexico's Center of Investigation and Economic Studies.

There was no reaction Thursday from Calderon, who was in Ciudad Juarez to address security in the northern border city where vicious turf battles between drug gangs have made it one of the world's deadliest places.

Gomez Mont announced his decision in a letter Wednesday evening to the PAN, rocking the country's political circles.

The PAN and the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, clashed bitterly over the disputed 2006 elections that Calderon narrowly won against Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

But the parties have decided to field the same candidates in two gubernatorial races to unseat the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years under a system of coercion and corruption that critics deemed a quasi-dictatorship. It still controls many state governments.

Gomez Mont has called the alliance an antidemocratic maneuver that sacrifices ideological conviction for bald political interests. In one speech, he said the pact amounts to "a sort of electoral fraud."

The PRI lost the presidency for the first time in 2000 to Vicente Fox of the PAN, a stunning defeat that many Mexicans considered the birth of true democracy in their country.

But the PRI has undergone a resurgence in recent years, gaining seats in the 2009 legislative elections amid widespread discontent over recession and the drug war.

The PRI has also benefited from turmoil within the PRD. Although PRD leaders have decided to recognize the Calderon government, Lopez Obrador still calls himself the legitimate president and has created his own political faction. He has ordered his followers not to form alliances with the PAN.

Still, it's not the first time the PAN has banded with its leftist rivals. In 1988, the PAN backed a leftist alliance, which later evolved into the PRD, in its fight to overturn presidential elections many Mexicans believe were rigged by the PRI.

After doubling its seats in Congress last year, the PRI pledged it had changed its ways and learned from its mistakes. It hopes to regain the presidency in 2012.





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