Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Teachers become Mexico gangs' latest targets

Friday, September 9, 2011 |
















A child looks at a sign reading, "There are no classes until new notice" at one of 80 public schools that were closed in Acapulco after the threats. Photo: Staff, PEDRO PARDO / AFP

By DUDLEY ALTHAUS
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Fewer people every day are spared the gangland violence besieging Mexico and now even poorly paid educators - charged with the tenuous future of the country's children - find themselves in corruption's cross hairs.

Hundreds of teachers stayed off the job in the troubled Pacific beach resort of Acapulco this week after receiving extortion demands and death threats circulated via handouts and the internet. Teachers earning more than $175 a week were warned to cough up 50 percent of their salaries and bonuses beginning Oct. 1 or face the consequences.

'Chance to leave'

"Those who don't agree have the chance to leave," explained a note sent to a finance officer of the local school district, which ordered a detailed list of teachers and their salaries. "If they don't, they know we're not fooling around.

"Advise the principals that we are aware of the high charges they ask of parents," the note said. "They will receive a special visit."

The note was not signed, but widely assumed to be from local gangsters who are warring for control of illegal drug sales, smuggling and other criminal rackets in Acapulco.

The walkout shut down at least 53 elementary schools and threatened to close hundreds more in and near Acapulco. Most of the schools reopened Wednesday after state and federal officials vowed to provide adequate security.

"The schools have returned to normal," Jesus Nava, a spokesman for the Guerrero state government, said by phone Wednesday.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre vowed in announcing the enhanced security Tuesday that "the teaching community, the students and their parents can be assured that the vigilance operations will be working at all times."

It remains to be seen if more police and army patrols will quash the extortion attempts. But the Acapulco walkout was but the latest incident involving threats to children.

Duck and cover drills

Schools in many cities and towns where the violence is greatest routinely drill young pupils on how to duck and cover should gunfire erupt. A Monterrey teacher gained international fame last spring when she kept her kindergartners calm by singing to them as a battle raged just outside the school.

Several mothers were shot and wounded last month as they waited for children to leave a grade school in Ciudad Juarez. Gunmen had chased a target who tried to find refuge at the school, spraying him and others nearby.

Two weeks ago, warnings circulated via Twitter, text messages and Facebook that gangsters planned to attack schools, sending panicked parents pull their children from class in the port of Veracruz.

Prosecutors have charged two people with "terrorism" for sending the warnings on Twitter.

Most of the targeted Acapulco schools are located in the poor and crowded back side of Acapulco, over the mountains from the once-popular beaches and tourist hotels. Gang warfare this year has killed hundreds of people in those neighborhoods.

Though notoriously low-paid, the teachers now join countless businesses as extortion targets of the gangs. Amid President Felipe Calderon's 5-year-old criminal crackdown, the gangsters have diversified beyond drug trafficking into an array of cash-generating enterprises.

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20 Borderland Beat Comments:

Jesus the Moose said...

The cartels have taken petty criminals and turned them into supercriminals by enabling them with weapons, ammo, vehicles, communications, as well the criminal craft. To do nothing about the cartels will just make them into the power behind the throne and a real patriot won't let that happen. Fight on Calderon!

LuciferKilla said...

Piece of shit CIDA how low can you get not letting little kids go to school no other cartels do that LAM built and funded schools that's why they were adored

Anonymous said...

que desgraciados, como pueden ser tan cobardes y ahora se meten con los maestros y los chicos que buscan educarse...que bajo an caido, quieren mantener a la poblacion ignorante como ellos para que sigan sus pasos...no tiene perdon de dios por atemorizar a los mas pequeños e inocentes, no conocen la verguenza...creen que son imortales...no se dan cuenta de lo que les pasa a la gente como ellos?

these people are despicable, they deny children of education now by intimidating teachers...that's low.

Anonymous said...

When the broader message is finally realized here, it will be too late. No education; no future for the kids and more cycles of cartel employees waiting in the wings. I am not educated, so I will go work for the cartel at age 11....

Calderon should march 10k troops into Acapulco and clean that place out for threatening the future of Mexico. Let it be known that they have gone too far. And that is the problem, they haven't been shown they have gone too far yet.

Finally, Acapulco is dead to tourists. No sane gringo will go and the cost of letting this battle go on hasn't been felt yet. Wait two years when effect of a 70% drop in tourism manifests....they are just seeing the beginning of problems if they don't get extremely aggressive.

ajulio said...

poor kid in the picture can't even afford to wear shoes.

Anonymous said...

This issue is a little more complex than it may seem - a friend of mine who is a tecaher in Mexico tells me that there is widespread corruption amongst federally-licensed teachers, who are frequently (if not exclusively) hired through nepotism, at grossly inflated salaries. It is very revealing that the extortion note asked to identify teachers making more than $8,000 MXN bi-weekly ($16,000 MXN monthly), and underline anyone making between $20,000 and $50,000 MXN monthly. These kinds of salaries are unheard of for public school teachers in Mexico - my friend makes $4,000 MXN/month. The cartels know this, and are effectively targeting corrupt organizations to get their 'cut' (just like the casino attack in Monterrey). Not saying this justifies it - just that these issues are more complex than they might at first appear to outsiders, and that a key part of the solution to cartel violence in Mexico continues to be addressing the corruption and social inequalities that fuel it.

Anonymous said...

"Calderon should march 10k troops into Acapulco and clean that place out for threatening the future of Mexico. Let it be known that they have gone too far. And that is the problem, they haven't been shown they have gone too far yet."

Just as they finally did with Pablo Escobar Calderon needs to inflate his cojones and either use the entire might of the Mexican military or invite the USA military and just put so many troops in Mexico all the cartels wont stand a chance. They need to roll tanks into Sinaloa and crush ALL the narco mansions and all the narco cemeteries. Mexico needs to take back the power they have let this go on way, way to long! Look at what is happening in the prisons for crying out loud! The cartels run the prisons! Mexico desperately needs to implement the death penalty for ALL narcos, they need to label ALL narcos as terrorists against the state and execute them, they need to give the military shoot on site orders before its to late, it may already be to late... They are taking over Guatemala and that will destabilize that entire region, playing footsies with the low level cannon fodder that the cartels keep insulating themselves with is doing absolutely nothing as far as progress, the cartels are doing that by design to keep the government distracted while they are behing the scenes doing the real damage... It is way, way, way past time to get aggressive on a massive scale never seen before, these cartels are just as bad or even worse than Hitler and they need to be treated as such or Mexico is doomed to become a narco state... Atte: "The Real"

Texcoco said...

Wait a minute, there is a big difference between

"My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school," Martinez tweeted.

And

Warnings circulated via Twitter, text messages and Facebook that gangsters planned to attack schools.

All this MF are no longer a criminal organization, I see them as terrorist and I believe is imperative to apply the Porfirio Diaz doctrine on them " MATENLOS EN CALIENTE " Porfirio Diaz was able to lower the crime rate in Mexico by creating fear on criminals.

Anonymous said...

@ ajulio poor kid in the picture can't even afford to wear shoes.

I don't know if you have ever been in Acapulco, Veracruz, Tabasco, Nayarit, or in many places around the sea but many people there don't wear shoes. The only time I see kids wearing shoes is when they go to school or church.

Texcoco said...

@ September 10, 2011 9:57 AM If what you are saying is true ( I believe it is ) then Mexico needs to fix that as well. This is the type of shit I hate about my country 50,000 pesos is like 4166 dollars a month, that is way to much for a teacher to be making in Mexico.

If what anon is saying is the truth then some of this teachers are no more than educated criminals and they should be punish as well.

A lot of people don't understand, but when you are tacking from the Government you are making your country weaker. I do admire president Felipe Calderon but now I have the feeling Mexico needs to clean house first before they can take down on criminals.

neonon23 said...

IN MEXICO I DON'T SEE THIS KIND OF NEWS DO YOU KNOW WHY?

Anonymous said...

Clean house, is an understatement. Any outsider who follows the news in Mexico can see that the Sinaloa Cartel is the favorite. If they want to rid their country of this plague, they can't favor any of them. It seems that Mexico want it to go back to the way it WAS, where a certain amount of corruption was just the status quo. But that will never work like it did because too many people are making money from these guys. And once anyone gets a taste for money, you can kiss progress goodbye (US DEA's war on drugs and their 4 billion dollar budget for example). Someone mentioned that Mexico needs the US help to go in and do what Columbia did with Escobar. But Mexico is corrupt to its core. It has been that way since before Porfilio Diaz (spelling?), and will be that way long after Calderon is gone. And they will always blame the US. Mexico is screwed, and has to be fixed by its people all by themselves.

Layla said...

As the police chief is doing in Garcia (outside Monterrey), I think other areas need to offer this same kind of urban combat/weapons training to it's civilian population as well. Learning to protect yourself and families will broaden to include protecting your businesses and other institutions like schools. If gangsters decided to march in with guns and kidnap or shoot at teachers/student/administrators they would be prepared. At least better prepared. You can add security but sometimes its not enough. If 50-75% of staff knew how to defend themselves and the children, they would have a better chance.

It won't solve the corruption issue, but it could help on the defense side. This is why MX has become so overrun with gun violence--the average citizen cannot or does not know how to defend themselves. And there is just not enough army, navy and federal police to go around--not to mention some of them are on the side of the cartels.

I feel for these teachers and kids. Education is a child's future. It enables them to think for themselves and make choices for their future. It also provides job training for all kinds of trades, even to become a doctor or dentist. Without it, there is no future. It's sad that many people don't see this until there's a possibility of it disappearing...

Anonymous said...

@ ajulio poor kid in the picture can't even afford to wear shoes.

That kid in a couple of years will be a sicario and will be extorting the school and a cold blooded killer

Anonymous said...

Layla, your right, the population needs to be able to defend it's self. That's what is wrong with the country. Could you imagine school teachers here in the US being threatened like that? The only reason the cartels don't try this in the US is because they know not only will the police shoot them so will the people living here, they are not that stupid. All of the towns people need to be armed and trained to shoot and hit their target. I have said before that if the cartels started getting shot up by the very people they are trying to kill with impunity a lot of the killings would stop. If some of them drove into a town and all they saw was armed people I doubt they would come back. You have to fight fire with fire.

Anonymous said...

pinche texcoco Porfirio Diaz "matelos en caliente" pues que no recuerdas la historia que esto desato se llama REVOLUCION indaga bien si Diaz fue el que mato al presidente recien elegido Madero.igual que los Z`s un pinche cobarde la historia se repite en Mexico todo por falta de Informacion.

Texcoco said...

@ September 11, 2011 12:24 AM Para empezar la revolución Mexicana empezó por muchas razones y no se te olvide que en ese tiempo se mato a mucha gente yo se de los abusos de Porfirio Diaz la corrupción y fraude de elecciones, el favorecer a la gente de dinero, y el abuso de poder y muchas cosas mas. Porfirio Diaz lo creas o no fue un héroe en la guerra de la reforma y de la intervención Francesa, Porfirio Diaz llevo a México a un avance tecnológico y aunque no lo creas pago la deuda externa con los Estados Unidos, ademas para que sepas yo no lo estoy alabando solo estoy ablando de la doctrina que tenia en contra de los criminales.

Texcoco said...

@ September 11, 2011 12:24 AM Después de lo que me dijiste me puse a leer un poco y aqui te pongo el resultado.

Francisco Ignacio Madero González (30 de octubre de 1873 – 22 de febrero de 1913) fue un empresario y político mexicano, originario de Parras, Coahuila. Fue elegido presidente de México al triunfo de la revolución de 1910. Fue asesinado junto con el vicepresidente José María Pino Suárez a causa del golpe de estado organizado por Victoriano Huerta.

Félix Díaz sobrino de Porfirio Diaz y Victoriano Huerta se pusieron de acuerdo para deshacerse de Francisco I Madero. Porfirio Diaz huyo de México a España en Mayo 31, 1911.

Anonymous said...

9:57 am... Great information. That is a class issue. The feds need to distribute the federal dollars marked for schools fairly. It is kind of a Robin Hood issue. Absolutely not in support of cartel extortion but this shed light on the situation. Sounds like a few of the cartel guys have wives that teach and they are getting the shaft so their husbands are evening the scores. That is Calderon's elitist mentality getting thrown back at him. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Three point solution

1. Mexico lower your flag
2. Beg the American Military to assist you, and pay us with your oil
3. We send in Delta Force and the Seals...we found Bin Laden we can find Chapo, Lazcano,

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