News and Analysis from MSN June 23-29, 2008

Mexico Solidarity Network
Red de Solidaridad con Mexico
WEEKLY NEWS AND ANALYSIS
JUNE 23-29, 2008
1. PLAN PUEBLA PANAMA BACK ON CALDERON’S AGENDA
2. MERIDA INITIATIVE PASSES BOTH HOUSES
3. MIAMI CUBANS CONTRACT CARTELS TO TRANSPORT IMMIGRANTS
4. BORDER WALL WOULD DIVIDE BI-NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
5. MSN PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS (Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org)
1. PLAN PUEBLA PANAMA BACK ON CALDERON’S AGENDA
The widely discredited Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) is back on President Calderon’s agenda, albeit in a slimmed down version that reduces infrastructure initiatives by as much as 95% and repackages the plan in terms of social service programs.  Newly named the Mesoamerica Project, President Calderon unveiled the revamped proposal at a meeting of Central American and Caribbean heads of state in Villahermosa, Tabasco, on Friday.  Former President Vicente Fox initiated Plan Puebla Panama early in his administration, only to see it whither under widespread popular opposition and a three year economic recession.  The more modest Mesoamerica Project will focus on building infrastructure, including toll highways and regional electrical grids (both projects were at the heart of the original PPP).  New to the project is a focus on a regional health initiative, distribution of fertilizer to local farmers, and production of bio-fuels, though without using human food sources.  The new additions, all ill-defined ideas more than concrete proposals, are probably designed to overcome popular opposition to the original PPP, which would have displaced hundreds of indigenous and campesino communities for construction of large infrastructure projects.  Highway and electrical grid construction contemplated under the Mesoamerica Project will likely have the same effects – and face the same opposition.
2. MERIDA INITIATIVE PASSES BOTH HOUSES
The Merida Initiative passed both houses of the US Congress this week, and received hearty approval by a wide spectrum of Mexican politicians after Congress weakened human rights language.  The US$400 million program, renewable for three years, will provide Mexican army and police units with advanced radar, heavy weapons, communication equipment, helicopters, speed boats and technical training for use in Calderon’s war on drugs.  The original version of the bill prohibited aid to army and police units engaged in torture or human rights abuses, or who are themselves involved in narco-trafficking, but the approved bill “has no explicit restrictions or any type of limitation on the transfer of resources or military equipment,” according to Mexico’s Ambassador in the US, Arturo Sarhukan.  For the first time in recent memory, US officials assumed partial responsibility for Mexico’s drug cartels.  “The United States recognizes that we share responsibility for the drug trafficking problem,” said US Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza.  President Bush is expected to sign the legislation within 45 days as part of an overall spending bill financing the war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Calderon’s project to militarize Mexican society continues apace.  More than 25,000 army troops and Federal Preventative Police (PFP) occupy cities and towns in nine states.  There were at least 4,000 drug-related murders during Calderon’s initial 18 months in office, including at least 500 police officers, soldiers, mayors and other officials.  On Thursday, a commander of the elite PFP, Igor Labastida, was assassinated at an open air lunch counter in Mexico City.  Labastida may be linked to drug cartels, according to officials investigating the murder.  The Federal Attorney General investigated Labastida in 2004 for links with the Sinaloa Cartel.
The flow of narco-dollars from the US to Mexico is estimated at US$12 to 15 billion per year.  This includes only bulk transfers of hard currency, and does not include money sent by wire transfer.  Federal Attorney General Eduardo Medina accuses the US of “already financing this war, it’s just that the financing is on the wrong side…  Most of the weapons, I would say around 95% of the weapons that we have seized come from the US.  If the US would stop the flow of weapons to Mexico, the equation would change very rapidly here.”  Mexican officials are also heavily implicated in narco-trafficking.  At least 20% of police in the central state of Aguascalientes are on the payroll of drug cartels, according to a statement released by Governor Luis Reynosa this week.  And Aguasclaientes is not considered a major center of drug trafficking.
3. MIAMI CUBANS CONTRACT CARTELS TO TRANSPORT IMMIGRANTS
The Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), the leading right wing Cuban organization in Miami, has been contracting Mexican drug cartels for at least the past three years to transport Cuban immigrants across Mexican territory to the US, according to evidence currently in the possession of Mexico’s Federal Attorney General.  The Gulf Cartel and its self-styled group of hired enforcers known at the Zetas were responsible for “rescuing” 33 Cuban immigrants taken into custody by immigration officials in Cancun two weeks ago.  The CANF reportedly charges about US$19,000 per immigrant, and part of the money is used by the Zetas to bribe immigration officials.  Eighteen of the 33 Cubans turned up in Texas last week carrying falsified Mexican immigration documents.  Two Cuban-Americans, both members of the Cuban-American National Foundation, detained by Mexican officials on June 8 gave testimony last week linking the CANF with the Zetas, a notoriously violent group composed mainly of former police and military who now work as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel.  The two witnesses refused release on bail, fearing they would be assassinated if they left prison.  The Cuban government has accused the CANF of links to organized crime since at least 2005.  In addition to human trafficking, the CANF is also involved in drug dealing and money laundering.
4. BORDER WALL WOULD DIVIDE BI-NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
The wall that the Bush administration wants to build along the US-Mexico border would split the University of Texas at Brownsville, cutting off the golf course from the rest of the campus.  School officials condemned the plan, calling it a mockery of the bi-national mission of the university.  The campus currently includes a biological field station on the Mexican side of the border, and about 400 of the 17,000 students are from Mexico.  The proposed wall would run a mile north of the Rio Grande, cutting off about a third of the campus.  University officials prevented Department of Homeland Security surveyors from entering campus property, generating a federal lawsuit that will be heard next Monday.
5. MSN PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS (Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org)
STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM:
Summer 2008, May 24 – July 5: Study in Chiapas and Mexico City, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including the Zapatistas, labor organizing and urban movements.  The program features guest professor Dr. Adam Morton from the University of  Nottingham.  Adam is a renowned expert on Gramsci.  Eight university credits.
Summer 2008, June 15 – July 26: Study the theory and practice of Zapatismo in Chiapas.  Eight university credits.
Fall 2008, September 7 – December 13: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.
Spring 2009, January 25 – May 2: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.
Fall 2009, September 6 – December 12: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.
CHICAGO AUTONOMOUS CENTER (3460 W. LAWRENCE AVE.)
ESL and Spanish Literacy classes:
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, 6:30-8:30pm. 
Classes utilize popular education strategies to increase conversational English capacity and basic reading and writing skills in Spanish.
Cultural events and political workshops:
For a full schedule of cultural events and political workshops, contact the Mexico Solidarity Network at 773-583-7728 or visit http://www.mexicosolidarity.org/communityforum
SPEAKING TOURS:
Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org to schedule an event in your city.
October 19-31 (Northwest): Plan Mexico.  Carlos Euceda will discuss Plan Mexico (aka the Merida Initiative), a bilateral security initiative that will provide $1.5 billion in US military financing for Mexico’s army and intelligence forces.
October 12-24 (New England): Border dynamics.  Veronica Leyva, a native of Ciudad Juarez, will speak about maquiladoras, immigration and struggles for land along the border, with particular emphasis on the Lomas de Poleo struggle.  Veronia is the MSN staff person in Ciudad Juarez.  She worked for seven years in maquiladoras and six years as a labor/community organizer before joining the MSN staff in 2004.
November 9-21 (Midwest): Immigration dynamics and Braceros.  A representative of the National Assembly of ex-Braceros from Tlaxcala will discuss current struggles by Braceros and the lessons of the Bracero program for the debate on immigration reform.  Braceros were Mexican guest workers who came to the US under a post-World War II treaty.
November 9-21 (California): Immigration dynamics and Braceros.  A representative of the National Assembly of ex-Braceros from Tlaxcala will discuss current struggles by Braceros and the lessons of the Bracero program for the debate on immigration reform.  Braceros were Mexican guest workers who came to the US under a post-World War II treaty.  Macrina Cardenas, President of the MSN board of directors, will accompany the tour.
ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY INTERNSHIPS:
Develop markets for artisanry produced by women’s cooperatives in Chiapas and make public presentations on the struggle for justice and dignity in Zapatista communities.
Interns are currently active in:  New York City; El Paso, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Rochester, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Washington, DC; Chico, CA; Stonington, ME; Minneapolis, MN; Berkeley, CA; Grand Rapids, MI; Salem, OR; Santa Cruz, CA; Chatham, NJ; Rutland, MA; Chicago, IL; Corpus Christi, TX; and Houston, TX
If this message has been forwarded to you and you would like to subscribe to the Mexico Solidarity Network mailing list, please visit www.mexicosolidarity.org and use the subscription feature provided, or send a blank message to allies-subscribe@mexicosolidarity.org
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About reality

Also, thanx for signing my petitions, et al, please consider sharing them. Also, since Admin. of change.org aren't allowing me to invite people to do my actions lately and are switching my urls for my petitions so when I invite people off their site they can't get to the petition either (ergo 3 possible urls for each petition), here's a few of my latest actions; do as few or as many as you'd like (there are 3 linx for each petition because admin. switches between the 3 of them so people trying to sign the petition can‘t get to it): This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Haiti disaster anniversary, please, do what you can: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9033 This petition on change.org: Haiti disaster anniversary: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2?share_id=yIpWHEHxri&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2 http://www.change.org/petitions/view/haiti_disaster_anniversary_2   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Green, Indigenous, Native American, etc., actions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9026 This petition on change.org: Green, Indigenous, Native American, acts: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous_native_american_acts?share_id=NHvTtQadfP&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous,_native_american_acts http://www.change.org/petitions/view/green_indigenous,_native_american_acts   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Art/Act: celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, holiday: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9024 This petition on change.org: Art/Act: celebrate Dr. M.L. King, Jr.'s holiday: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/artact_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jrs_holiday?share_id=QjOkAUGeBQ&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/art_act_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jr_s_holiday http://www.change.org/petitions/view/art_act_celebrate_dr_ml_king_jr_s_holiday   This post on Disabled Greens News and discussion: Green; NA; the evolution; Civil, Human, LP, Prisoner's Rights; Poverty; etc..: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisabledGreensNews/message/9022 This petition on change.org: Economically empower through advocacy: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_through_advocacy?share_id=WZNqBQWcXE&pe=pce http://uspoverty.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_through_advocacy http://www.change.org/petitions/view/economically_empower_throug
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