April 28, 2010 [LINK / comment]

Street battles on Mexican border

Six police officers and a teenage boy were gunned down in Ciudad Juarez in broad daylight last Friday, the latest sign that the Mexican government is losing control along the border with the United States. The assailants used AK-47s and other weapons. The battles escalated into a virtual civil war March 2009, after which the situation temporarily improved. In response, the narcotics mafia began assassinating policemen and other officials elsewhere in Mexico, forcing the government to patrol a broader area. As CNN.com, reports, "Ciudad Juarez is the most violent city in the nation, with more than 2,600 drug-related deaths in 2009."

At a time when gang violence is plaguing Arizona and other states along the Mexican border, the implications of the deteriorating situation in Mexico are becoming all too clear. If the Mexican government cannot maintain security on its side of the border, no one should be surprised that a massive flow of illegal immigrants continues to pour across the border. President Obama should pursue active cooperation with President Calderon, and he should not berate Arizona which recently passed a law that empowers law enforcement officials to crack down on illegal immigrants. The citizens of Arizona overwhelming support the measure, and I'm afraid that until the Federal government gets serious about defending our border (not very likely for the foreseeable future), there is no other choice.

That is why criticism from the Mexican government over the new Arizona law should not be taken at face value. President Calderon is under heavy domestic pressure to respond with forceful rhetoric, but it may not mean much. What's more, Mexico itself has a poor record of protecting immigrants that pass through it on the way to the U.S.A. An Amnesty International report listed a series of abuses that have been ignored thus far. See BBC.

Rebel threat in Paraguay

In all of Latin America for most of history, no country has been more tranquil than Paraguay. That may be changing, however. President Fernando Lugo has declared an emergency in the northern region, meaning that constitutional rights are suspended for 30 days. The "Paraguayan People's Army" is not widely known, and it remains to be seen whether the movement originated domestically or may have been "planted" there by outside forces. See CNN.com.

President Lugo is a left-leaning former Catholic priest who was inaugurated in August 2008. He is the first non-establishment figure to lead the country in over half a century.

Corruption in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, former President Miguel Angel Rodriguez and eight others are standing trial for bribery. The French company Alcatel allegedly paid more than $600,000 to secure mobile phone contract worth $149 million. Rodriguez was serving as secretary general of the Organization of American States, but resigned from his position when the scandal broke in 2004. See CNN.com

Photos from Costa Rica

I have revamped the Photo gallery pages from Costa Rica, making them more user-friendly, efficient, and easier to navigate. I also drastically edited the wild bird photos I took there, and plan to edit some of the scenic photos later.

Costa Rica montage