Friday, October 30, 2009


Sherria Cotton
(202) 785-1670
Oct 21, 2009


Washington, DC-NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today brought community leaders, academics, and practitioners together for a forum focused on America's future. The forum, the first of its kind, highlighted new research in the areas of education, health care, and juvenile justice that revealed the depth of challenges facing Latino children. Participants also focused on critical questions to contemporary problems such as how to mitigate the traumatic impact that foreclosures are having on the financial and mental health of Latino children, how to protect Latino children from being systematically stereotyped and unfairly targeted by law enforcement, and how to make public health programs more responsive to the unique health care needs of Hispanic children and parents.

Attendees at the forum, titled "Investing in Our Future: The State of Latino Children and Youth," heard from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and President and Founder of the Children's Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, among other speakers. Also participating in the forum were representatives from NCLR's Affiliate Network, composed of nearly 300 community-based organizations, and students from NCLR's Líderes Initiative, a national program that advances opportunities for Latino youth.

"Latino children are the future of this country. If they succeed, we all succeed, and if they fail we all fail, so today we hope to help lay the foundation for a comprehensive agenda for Latino children and youth that will nurture their enormous potential and create a better future for them and, in turn, for our country," said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. "Our health, education, and juvenile justice systems are not serving Latino children and youth effectively, failing to adequately promote their health and well-being."

The 16 million Latino children in the U.S.-90% of whom are U.S.-born citizens-make up 22% of the total child population and are expected to represent nearly one-third of all children by 2030. The challenges that these children face are many, including a rising rate of obesity, attendance in under-resourced schools, and a lack of health insurance.

Key research points discussed at the forum include:

Poverty levels are unacceptably high among Latino children. While about one-third (32%) of children living in poverty in 2007 were Latino, it is projected that by 2030 that portion will rise to nearly half (44%) if the trend remains constant. In 2007, more than one-third of Latino children lived in high-poverty neighborhoods, making them socially and economically isolated from more affluent communities. One-fourth of Hispanic children live in linguistically isolated households, and 18% have difficulty speaking English.
Latino children are underrepresented in early childhood education programs, which are critical to putting children on the right path to succeed in school and adult life. In 2005-2006, 27% of Latino preschoolers lacked regular (nonparental) arrangements for child care, compared with 18% of White preschoolers and 16% of Black preschoolers. As high school students, Latinos are less likely than other groups to graduate, and those who drop out are at a severe disadvantage in terms of employment options and potential earnings. About 76% of Whites who enter ninth grade earn a high school diploma, compared with only 55% of Latino youth and 51% of Black youth.
Nearly 20% of Hispanic children lack health care, compared to 6% of White children. In 2007, 41% of Latino and Black children (compared with 27% of White children) were overweight or obese, putting them at high risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, hypertension, and other health problems.
Foreclosures had a significant impact on children's academic performance and behavior in school, as well as on families' plans to help children with future education. A new qualitative study by NCLR found that families went to dramatic lengths to try to save their homes, leaving them financially depleted and resulting in traumatic changes in living situations and schools for their children.
Murguía emphasized that the forum is intended to serve as the foundation of a comprehensive policy agenda that NCLR will lead on the legislative, political, and civic engagement fronts to continue building strategies to meet the needs of Latino children.

"By 2050, Latino adults-today's children-will constitute nearly one-third of the U.S. population. As tomorrow's leaders, workers, voters, taxpayers, and consumers, Latinos are vital to the future of our nation, and we must invest in their futures now," concluded Murguía.

The forum was co-sponsored by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information on NCLR's work on health care, education, juvenile justice, housing, and other issues, visit | | |


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Aztec Bibliography

Source: dorinda moreno []

Aztec Bibliography

Primary Sources

Anonymous Conqueror; Marshall H. Saville, Trans. A Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan MexicoTaxus Baccata Books: 2004. Reprint of 1917 translation with illustrations from 1556 edition, finally back in print for only $12.95!!

Anderson, Arthur J. O.; Charles E. Dibble. Florentine Codex, Second Edition Revised, in Thirteen Parts (13 Volumes). School of American Research & University of Utah: 1970/1978. F/None

Carvajal, Luis de, el Mozo. Seymour B. Liebman (translator & editor). The Enlightened. University of Miami: 1967. VG/No (The only extant text by a Jew in the Colonial period.)

Columbus, Christopher; Cecil Jane (translator). The Journal of Christopher Columbus. Bramhall House: 1960. VG/VG.

Cortes, Hernan. Irwin R. Blacker (intro & commentaries); Harry M. Rosen (editor). Conquest: Dispatches of Cortes from the New World. Grosset & Dunlap: 1962. TP-G

Cortes, Hernan. J Bayard Morris (translator & ed.). The Letters of Hernando Cortez 1519-1526 (The Argonaut Series). Robert M. McBride: 1929. VG/G (water staining to DJ)

de Landa, Diego; A. R. Pagden (translator). The Maya: Diego de Landa's Account of the Affairs of Yucatan. J. Philip O'Hara: 1975. (Mayan.) VG/VG

de Oviedo, Gonzalo Fernandez; Sterling A. Stoudemire (translator). Natural History of the West Indies (University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, No. 32) University of North Carolina Press: 1959. TP/VG

Diaz, Bernal del Castillo. Genaro Garcia (editor), A. P. Maudslay (translator.) The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico 1517-1521. Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy: 1956. VG/No
Also have by Maudsaly & Garcia:TP "The True History of the Conquest of New Spain." And, Hakluyt Society: 1908. Five volumes, illustrated, one volume is box of maps. Ex-libris of Edward Lynam, map collector/editor, one-time secretary of Hakluyt Soc., British Museum curator (?), etc. VG (This is third copy, so one of others must go.)

Diaz, Bernal; J. M. Cohen (translator). The Conquest of New Spain. Penguin: 1963. TP-VG.

Duran, Fray Diego; Doris Heyden & Fernando Horcasitas (translators). The Aztecs: The History of the Indies of New Spain. Orion Press: 1964. VG/No
Also have:Univ. Oklahoma: 1994 (this includes all the original illustrations, complete text. The 1964 edition was a popular version, and so did not. This is a scholarly one, and also includes annotations, intro, etc.)

Duran, Fray Diego; translated & edited by Fernando Horcasitas and Doris Heyden. Book of the Gods and Rites and the Ancient Calendar. University of Oklahoma: 1973. TP-VG

Glubok, Shirley; Leslie Tillett. The Fall of the Aztecs: Illustrations by the Conquered, Text by the Conquerors. (Based on Bernal Diaz.) VG/No

Knab, T. J. (editor); Thelma D. Sullivan (translator.) A Scattering of Jades: Stories, Poems, and Prayers of the Aztecs. Simon & Schuster: 1994. TP-F

Las Casas, Bartolome de; edited & translated by Nigel Griffin. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Penguin: 1992. TP-F

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Beacon Press: 1962. TP-VG

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. Pre-Columbian Literatures of Mexico. University of Oklahoma: 1969. (Leon-Portilla has a lot of his own text in here, but about half of the book is composed of pre-columbian writings.) VG/VG

Ross, Kurt (ed.) Codex Mendoza: Aztec Manuscript. Miller Graphics: 1978. Color reproductions of all full pages of this codex, as well as many close-ups. Includes some translations of the Spanish written on the codex. VG/VG

Vespucci, Amerigo; Luciano Formissano (editor); David Jacobson (translator.) Letters from a New World: Amerigo Vespucci’s Discovery of America. Marsilio: 1992. (Unrelated to Aztecs.) F/VG

Zorita, Alonso de; Benjamin Keen (translator). Life and Labor in Ancient Mexico: The Brief and Summary Relation of the Lords of New Spain. Rutgers University: 1963. F/VG

The Aztecs

Adams, Richard E. W. Prehistoric Mesoamerica, Revised Edition. University of Oklahoma: 1991. F/F. Take to store?

Anawalt, Patricia Rieff. Indian Clothing Before Cortes: Mesoamerican Costumes from the Codices. University of Oklahoma Press: 1990. TP-VG.

Benson, Elizabeth P. & Elizabeth Hill Boone, editor. The Art and Iconography of Late Post-Classic Central Mexico: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks October 22nd and 23rd, 1977. Dumbarton Oaks: 1982. F/None

Berdan, Frances F. The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society. Holt, Rinehart & Winston: 1982. TP-G. (dry but good sociological overview, good use of Nahuatl.)

Berlo, Janet Catherine. Art, Ideology and the City of Teotihuacan: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks 8th and 9th October 1988. Dumbarton Oaks: 1992. F/None

Bernal, Ignacio; translated by Willis Barnstone. Mexico Before Cortez: Art, History and Legend, Revised Edition. Anchor: 1975. MM-G

Berrin, Kathleen; Clara Millon, Rene Millon, Esther Pasztory, Thomas K. Seligman. Feathered Serpents and Flowering Trees: Reconstructing the Murals of Teotihuacan. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: 1988. Interesting account relating that the "official" discovery of these murals was prompted by looted pieces of them all of a sudden showing up in auctions. VG/none/signed

Blanton, Richard E.; Stephen A. Kowalewski; Gary Feinman; Jill Appel. Ancient Mesoamerica: A Comparison of Change in Three Regions. Cambridge University: 1981. TP-F Second edition, 1993. TP-G (very well done, with excellent bibliography.)

Boone, Elizabeth Hill. The Aztec Templo Mayor: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 8th and 9th October 1983. Dumbarton Oaks: 1987. F/none

Bray, Warwick. Everyday Life of the Aztecs. Dorset Press: 1968. F/F

Broda, Johanna; David Carrasco; Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan: Center and Periphery in the Aztec World. University of California: 1987. TP-VG

Brundage, Burr Cartwright. The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World. University of Texas: 1979. VG/G

Carrasco, David. City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. Beacon Press: 1999. F/F

Carrasco, David. Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and Prophecies in the Aztec Tradition. University of Chicago: 1992. TP-VG

Carrasco, David. The Tenochca Empire of Ancient Mexico: The Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, and Tlacopan. University of Oklahoma: 1999.

Caso, Alfonso. Illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias; Lowell Dunham (tranlsator.) The Aztecs: People of the Sun. University of Oklahoma: 1958. VG/VG

Clendinnen, Inga. Aztecs: An Interpretation. Cambridge University: 1991. BCE? VG/VG. (One of my favorites, has very lucid descriptions of life with some fresh & believable interpretations.)

Coe, Michael D Mexico, Third Edition. Thames & Hudson:1984. TP-G

Covarrubias, Miguel. Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Alfred A. Knopf: 1946. VG/VG 1st ed.

Davies, Nigel. The Aztec Empire: The Toltec Resurgence. University of Oklahoma: 1987. F/F

Davies, Nigel. The Aztecs: A History. University of Oklahoma: 1980. TP-VG

Davies, Nigel. The Toltec Heritage: From the Fall of Tula to the Rise of Tenochtitlan. University of Oklahoma: 1980. F/VG

Driver, Harold E. The Americas on the Eve of Discovery. Prentice-Hall: 1964. TP-G.

Enciso, Jorge. Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico. Dover: 1947. TP-VG

Fastlicht, Samuel; Javier Romero. El Arte de las Mutilaciones Dentarias (Encyclopedia Mexicana de Arte #14). Ediciones Mexicanas: 1951. TP-VG

Furst, Jill Leslie McKeever. The Natural History of the Soul in Ancient Mexico Yale University: 1995. TP-F

Gillespie, Susan D. The Aztec Kings: The Construction of Rulership in Mexica History. University of Arizona: 1989. TP-F

Gillmor, Frances. Flute of the Smoking Mirror: A Portrait of Nezahualcoyotl, Poet-King of the Aztecs. University of Utah: 1949. TP-VG

Gillmor, Frances. The King Danced in the Marketplace. University of Utah: 1964. TP-VG

Hardoy, Jorge. Urban Planning in Pre-Columbian America. George Braziller: 1968. VG/no (Short monograph, but lots of excellent photos & drawings.)

Harvey, H. R. Land and Politics in the Valley of Mexico: A Two Thousand Year Perspective. University of New Mexico: 1991. F/No

Hassig, Ross. Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control. University of Oklahoma: 1988. F/VG

Hassig, Ross. Time, History, and Belief in Aztec and Colonial Mexico. University of Texas: 2001. TP-F

Hassig, Ross. Trade, Tribute, and Transportation: The Sixteenth-Century Political Economy of the Valley of Mexico. University of Oklahoma: 1985. F/F

Hassig, Ross. War and Society in Ancient America. University of California: 1992. F/VG

Horcasitas, Fernando. The Aztecs Then and Now. Minutiae Mexicana: 1979. TP-G

Keen, Benjamin. The Aztec Image in Western Thought. Rutgers University: 1990. TP-VG

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Aztec Image of Self and Society : An Introduction to Nahua Culture. University of Utah: 1992. VG/VG

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind. University of Oklahoma: 1963. VG/VG

Lopez, Angel Raul. El Numero 13 en la Vida de los Aztecas. Costa-Amic: 1984. TP-VG

Millon, Rene. The Teotihuacan Map (Urbanization at Teotihuacan, Mexico, Volume 1). University of Texas: 1973. VG. Two parts, the second being a volume of bound maps with clear plastic overlays, and with a box of folded maps attached to the rear board.

Moctezuma, Eduardo Matos. The Great Temple of the Aztecs: Treasures of Tenochtitlan. Thames & Hudson: 1988. F/VG

Parsons, Jeffrey R.; Elizabeth Brumfiel; Mary H. Parsons; David J. Wilson; et al. Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Southern Valley of Mexico: The Chalco-Xochimilco Region. University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology: 1982. TP-VG

Peterson, Frederick. Ancient Mexico: An Introduction to the Pre-Hispanic Cultures. Capricorn: 1959. TP-G

Pohl, John M. D.; Angus McBride. Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies. Osprey: 1991. F

Powell, Guy E. Latest Aztec Discoveries. San Antonio: Naylor Co., 1967. VG/G. (Probably better shelved in fiction, as author appears to have discovered Aztlan in his backyard. Nevertheless... it does have map endpapers! Road trip!)

Schroeder, Susan. Chimalpahin and the Kingdoms of Chalco. University of Arizona: 1991. VG/No

Sejourne, Laurette. Burning Water: Thought and Religion in Ancient Mexico. Shambala: 1976. TP-VG

Soustelle, Jacques. Daily Life of the Aztecs on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest. Stanford: 1955/1961. TP-Fair.

Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs, Revised Edition. Thames & Hudson: 2000. TP-F

Vaillant, George C. Artists and Craftsmen in Ancient Central America. American Museum of Natural History: 1945. TP-G

Vaillant, George C. Aztecs of Mexico: Origin, Rise and Fall of the Aztec Nation. American Museum of Natural History/Doubleday: 1950. VG/VG

Von Hagen, Victor W. The Aztec: Man and Tribe. Mentor: 1958. MM-VG

Von Hagen, Victor W. The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas: Aztec, Maya, Inca. World Publishing: 1961. VG/VG

Wauchope, Robert (general editor). Handbook of Middle American Indians (sixteen volumes plus supplements). University of Texas: 1964-1976, plus supplements. VG/G

Willey, Gordon R.; Jeremy A. Sabloff (introductions). Pre-Columbian Archaeology (Readings from Scientific American.) W. H. Freeman: 1980. TP-VG

Wolf, Eric. Sons of the Shaking Earth: The People of Mexico and Guartemala: Their Land, History, and Culture. University of Chicago: 1959. TP-VG (Covers prehistory through Colonial period.)

Wolf, Eric R. (editor). The Valley of Mexico: Studies in Pre-Hispanic Ecology and Society. University of New Mexico: 1976. F/G

The Conquest & Conquistadors

Christensen, Thomas & Carol (editors.) The Discovery of America & Other Myths: A New World Reader. Chronicle Books: 1992. TP-VG (Some very good essays.)

Day, Jane S.; foreword by Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. Aztec: The World of Moctezuma. Denver Museum of Natural History/Roberts Rinehart: 1992. Published in conjunction with exhibition, but not a catalogue per se. TP-VG

Eidsmoe, John. Columbus and Cortez, Conquerors for Christ. New Leaf Press: 1992. TP-VG. (poorly researched, hypocritical, but does remind us that Cortez was devout Catholic.)

Hanke, Lewis. The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America. Little, Brown: 1949/1965. TP-VG (excellent overview of legalistic concerns of Spaniards.)

Hassig, Ross. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest (Modern Wars in Perspective series). Longman: 1994. TP-VG

Horgan, Paul. Conquistadors in North American History. Fawcett: 1963. MM-VG

Padden, R. C. The Hummingbird and the Hawk: Conquest and Sovereignty in the Valley of Mexico, 1503-1541. Harper: 1967. TP-G

Pohl, John; Charles M. Robinson III. Aztecs & Conquistadores: The Spanish Invasion and the Collapse of the Aztec Empire. Osprey: 2005. F/F. (Light reading except for good military details.)

Prescott, William H. The Conquest of Mexico & The Conquest of Peru. Modern Library. VG/G

Stannard, David E. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. Oxford University: 1992. TP-VG

Thomas, Hugh. Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes, and the Fall of Old Mexico. Simon & Schuster: 1993. TP-VG

Thomas, Hugh. Who's Who of the Conquistadors. Cassell & Co.: 2000. F/F

Todorov, Tzvetan; Richard Howard (translator). The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. Harper & Row: 1987. TP-G. (Perhaps the best interpretation I’ve read.)

Verrill, A. Hyatt. Great Conquerors of South and Central America. New Home Library: 1943. V/V (Dated, but good teen intro.)

Warren, J. Benedict. The Conquest of Michoacan: The Spanish Domination of the Tarascan Kingdom in Western Mexico, 1521-1530. University of Oklahoma: 1985. F/F

White, Jon Manchip. Cortes and the Downfall of the Aztec Empire: A Study in a Conflict of Cultures. Hamish Hamilton: 1971. HC-VG/no.

Wise, Terence; Angus McBride. The Conquistadors.

Miscellaneous Stuff (Colonial, Travelogues, Olmecs, Peopling of Americas, General Mesoamerican Interest)

Adams, Richard E. W. Prehistoric Mesoamerica. Little, Brown: 1977. VG/No.

Benson, Elizabeth P., editor. Death and the Afterlife in Pre-Columbian America: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks October 27th, 1973. Dumbarton Oaks: 1975. F/None

Benson, Elizabeth P., editor. Mesoamerican Writing Systems: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks October 30th and 31st, 1971. Dumbarton Oaks: 1973. F/None

Benson, Elizabeth P., editor. The Sea in the Pre-Columbian World: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks October 26th and 27th, 1974. Dumbarton Oaks: 1977. F/None

Bernal, Ignacio. 100 Great Masterpieces of the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology. Harry N. Abrams: 1969. VG/G

Bernal, Ignacio. The Olmec World. University of California: 1976. TP-VG.

Bierhorst, John. The Mythology of Mexico and Central America. William Morrow: 1990. F/F (remainder)

Boone, Elizabeth Hill. Painted Architecture and Polychrome Monumental Sculpture in Mesoamerica: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 10th to 11th October 1981. Dumbarton Oaks: 1985. F/None

Boone, Elizabeth Hill; Tom Cummins. Native Traditions in the Postconquest World: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 2nd through 4th October 1992. Dumbarton Oaks: 1997. F/None

Butler, John W. Sketches of Mexico. Cincinnati: Cranston & Curts, 1894. VG/None. Son of missionary. Interesting history of Mexican race, as Butler lists several theories of the peopling of the Americas, including 6 theories that they originated from Europe, 4 theories of African origin (including Atlantis which theory is dealt with at length), and "at least six" theories of Asiatic origin.

Cervantes, Fernando. The Devil in the New World: The Impact of Diabolism in New Spain.

Clendinnen, Inga. Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570. Cambridge University: 1987. TP-VG

Coe, Michael D. Archaeological Mexico: A Traveler's Guide to Ancient Cities and Sacred Sites. Moon Travel Handbooks: 1998. TP-F

Coe, Michael D.; David Grove; Elizabeth Benson (editor & organizers). The Olmec and their Neighbors: Essays in Memory of Matthew W. Stirling. Dumbarton Oaks: 1981. F/None

Coe, Michael D.; David Grove; Elizabeth Benson (editor & organizers). In the Land of the Olmec. Vol. I: The Archaeology of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan; Vol. II: The People of the River University of Texas: 1980. F/VG Slipcase with F folder containing four maps

Dossio, Francisco Gonzales de. Cronicas de la Compania de Jesus en la Nueva Espana. La Universidad Nacional Autonoma, Mexico: 1957. TP-G (Jesuits in Colonial Mexico.)

Davies, Nigel. Voyagers to the New World. William Morrow: 1979. (Pretty even-handed discussion of evidence for pre-Columbian contacts.)

Davies, Nigel. The Toltecs: Until the Fall of Tula. University of Oklahoma: 1977. VG/G

Day, A. Grove. Coronado’s Quest: The History-Making Adventures of the First White Men to Invade the Southwest. University of California: 1964. TP-VG

Diehl, Richard A. Tula: The Toltec Capital of Ancient Mexico. Thames & Hudson: 1983. F/VG

Dumbarton Oaks. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, Numbers Nine through Eleven. #9: Badner, Mino. “A Possible Focus of Andean Artistic Influence in Mesoamerica.” #10: Quirarte, Jacinto. “Izapan-Style Art: A Study of Its Form and Meaning.” #11: Moser, Christopher L. “Human Decapitation in Ancient Mesoamerica.” Dumbarton Oaks: 1973. F/None

Dumbarton Oaks. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, Numbers Twelve through Fourteen. #12: Wilbert, Johannes. “The Thread of Life: Symbolism of Miniature Art from Ecuador.” #13: Roe, Peter G. “A Further Exploration of the Rowe Chavin Seriation and Its Implications for North Central Coast Chronology.” #14: Benson, Elizabeth P. “A Man and a Feline in Mochica Art.” Dumbarton Oaks: 1974. F/None

Fagan, Brian M. The Great Journey: The Peopling of Ancient America. Thames & Hudson: 1987. F/VG

Ferguson, William M.; Arthur H. Rohn. Mesoamerica’s Ancient Cities: Arial Views of Precolumbian Ruins in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. University Press of Colorado: 1990. F/F

Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810. Stanford University: 1964. TP-VG

Graham, John A. Ancient Mesoamerica: Selected Readings. Peek Publications: 1966. TP-VG (prehistory, agriculture, Maya, misc.)

Grove, David C. Chalcatzingo: Excavations on the Olmec Frontier. Thames & Hudson: 1984. VG/VG

Grove, David C. & Rosemary A. Joyce, editors. Social Patterns in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks 9 and 10 October 1993. Dumbarton Oaks: 1999. F/None

Gruener, James C. The Olmec Riddle: An Inquiry Into the Origin of Pre-Columbian Civilization. Vengreen Publications, 1987. F/F

Hansen, L. Taylor. He Walked the Americas. Amherst Press: 1963. G/No. (Haven’t read this yet. Is it Mormon? New Age?)

Hardoy, Jorge L. Precolumbian Cities. Walker, 1973. Large basic survey with a chapter on the Aztecs, and a chapter on Tenochtitlan. VG/VG.

Jones, Lindsay. Twin City Tales: A Hermeneutical Reassessment of Tula and Chichen Itza. University of Colorado: 1995. F/VG

Kelemen, Pal. Medieval American Art: Masterpieces of the New World before Columbus, Third Revised edition in two volumes. Dover: 1969.

Kiev, Ari. Curanderismo: Mexican-American Folk Psychiatry. Free Press: 1968. TP-G

Killion, Thomas W. Gardens of Prehistory: Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Mesoamerica University of Alabama: 1992. TP-F

Luckert, Karl W. Olmec Religion: A Key to Middle America and Beyond. University of Oklahoma: 1976. F/VG

MacKenzie, Donald A. Pre-Columbian America: Myths and Legends. Random House: 1923/1996. TP-VG. (Links between Old & New Worlds via mythology. Although much of the research is now out of date, bottom line remains valid: Do you believe in contact or archetypes?)

MacNeish, Richard S. (introduction). Early Man in America (Readings from Scientific American.) W. H. Freeman: 1973. TP-VG

Malmstrom, Vincent H. Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization. University of Texas: 1997. TP-VG

Marcus, Joyce; Kent V. Flannery. Zapotec Civilization: How Urban Society Evolved in Mexico’s Oaxaca Valley. Thames & Hudson: 1996. VG/VG

Maslow, Jonathan Evan. Bird of Life, Bird of Death: A Political Ornithology of Central America. Dell: 1986. TP-VG (Neat travelogue/natural history of the quetzal.)

Miller, Arthur G. Highland-Lowland Interaction in Mesoamerica: Interdisciplinary Approaches: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks, October 18th and 19th, 1980. Dumbarton Oaks: 1983. F/None

Miller, Mary Ellen. The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, third edition. Thames & Hudson: 2001. TP-VG

Nelson, Ralph (translator.) Popul Vuh: The Mythological Book of the Ancient Maya. Houghton Mifflin: 1976. TP-F

Nuttall, Zelia (editor); Arthur G. Miller (introduction) The Codex Nuttall: A Picture Manuscript from Ancient Mexico. Dover: 1902/1975. (Nuttall’s original manuscript is not reprinted, just the screenfold.) TP-F

O’Hanlon, Redmond. In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon. Vintage: 1988. TP-VG (take to work?)

Pollard, Helen Perstein. Tariacuri’s Legacy : The Prehispanic Tarascan State. University of Oklahoma: 1993. F/F

Posnansky, Ing. Arthur; translated by James F. Shearer. Tihuanacu : The Cradle of American Man [La Cuna del Hombre Americano], Vol III, IV. Ministerio de Educacion, La Paz: 1957. VG/None

Ragghianti, Carol Ludovico; Licia Ragghianti Collobi. National Museum of Anthropology: Mexico City. Newsweek: 1970. VG/None

Read, Kay Almere; Jason J. Gonzalez. Mesoamerican Mythology: A guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs of Mexico and Central America. Oxford University Press: 2000. TP-F

Rice, Don Stephen. Latin American Horizons: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 11th and 12th October 1986. Dumbarton Oaks: 1993. F/None

Riley, Carrol L. (ed.); J. Charles Kelley; Campbell W. Pennington; Robert L. Rands. Man across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts. University of Texas Press: 1971. HC-VG/no

Riley, G. Micheal. Fernando Cortes and the Marquesado in Morelos, 1522-1547: A Case Study in the Socioeconomic Development of Sixteenth-Century Mexico. University of New Mexico Press: 1973. F/VG

Sabloff, Jeremy A. The Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World, Revised Edition. Thames & Hudson: 1997. TP-VG

Schwartz, Marion. A History of Dogs in the Early Americas. Yale Univeristy: 1997. TP-F

Soustelle, Jacques. The Four Suns: Recollections and Reflections of an Ethnologist in Mexico. Grossman: 1971. VG/VG

Soustelle, Jacques. The Olmecs: The Oldest Civilization in Mexico. Doubleday: 1984. F/VG

Spores, Ronald. The Mixtecs in Ancient and Colonial Times. University of Oklahoma: 1984. F/F

Stark, Barbara L.; Philip J. Arnold III. Olmec to Aztec: Settlement Patterns in the Ancient Gulf Lowlands. University of Arizona: 1997. VG/VG

Stephens, John L. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, with 111 Illustrations, in Two Volumes. Dover: 1854/1969. (Also have old vol. 2 of Yucatan, Harper & Bros: 1868)

Tompkins, Peter. Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids. Harper & Row: 1976. VG/VG

van Roojen, Pepin. Ancient Mexican Designs w/ CD-ROM (Pepin Press Agile Rabbit Editions) Pepin Press: 2002. TP-F w/ CD

von Hagen, Victor Wolfgang. Maya Explorer: John Lloyd Stephens and the Lost Cities of Central America and Yucatan. University of Oklahoma Press: 1947. VG/No

Von Wuthenau, Alexander; E. W. Hathaway (translator). Tepotzotlan (Art and Color in Mexico, Volume 1). Von Stetten Fotocolor: 1941. TP-VG/Slipcase (Awesome illustrations of Colonial baroque monestary.)

Westheim, Paul. The Art of Ancient Mexico. Doubleday: 1965, MM-VG

Wilgus, A. Curtis. Latin America in Maps: Historic, Geographic, Economic. Barnes & Noble: 1943. TP-G (plumber dropped this one in sink.)

Wilson, James A. Bits of Old Mexico. Self Published, San Francisco: 1910. G/No. (Amusing and interesting - but light - travelogue.)


Bennett, Rowena; Fiore Mastri (illustrator). Runner for the King. Follett: 1944. (Kids’ book on the Incas.)

Bishop, Michael. Stolen Faces. Victor Gollancz: 1977. VG/VG (review copy). The planet Tezcatl is Aztec-culture society which has an infection of muphormosy, similar to leprosy . . . or does it?

Davidson, Avram. Clash of the Star-Kings. Ace (Double): 1966.

Esquivel, Laura. Malinche. Washington Square Press: 2006. TP-VG

Falkenhorst, C.; adapted by Elise L. Lathrop. With Cortez in Mexico: A Historical Romance. Hurst & Co: 1892.

Haggard, H. Rider. Montezuma's Daughter. Hodder & Stoughton: 1893/1919. Fair/No.

Ingraham, Joseph Holt. Montezuma, the Serf, or the Revolt of the Mexitili, a Tale of the Last Days of the Aztec Dynasty. H. L. Williams: 1845. G/No (Virtually no basis in history, but still a nice tale with a Arthurian/chivalric feel. Scarce.)

Jennings, Gary. Aztec. Avon: 1980. MM-G (well done, basic historical novel)

Jennings, Gary. Aztec Autumn. Forge, 1997. F/VG. (Second in the trilogy ending with "Aztec Blood.")

Kidwell, Carl. Arrow in the Sun. Viking: 1961. Illustrated with line drawings, possibly a teen novel? VG/G.

MacLeish, Archibald. Conquistador. Houghton Mifflin: 1932. VG/no 6/e. (Pulitzer-winning epic poem of the Conquest.)

Marshall, Edison. Cortez and Marina. Doubleday/Popular Library: 1963. MM-G

Murray, Yxta Maya. The Conquest. HarperCollins: 2002. G/G exlib

Novo, Salvador. The War of the Fatties and Other Stories from Aztec History. Univesity of Texas: 1994. VG/VG

Saberhagen, Fred. The Mask of the Sun. Tor: 1979. '87 MM.

Shearer, Tony. Lord of the Dawn: Quetzalcoatl. Naturegraph Publishers: 1971. TP-G (poetry inspired by Aztec thought & history.)

Shellabarger, Samuel. Captain from Castile. Little, Brown: 1945. ‘65-BCE-VG/G

Somerlott, Robert. Death of the Fifth Sun. Viking: 1987. Xlib-G/VG (Interesting in that it is told through the voice of Malinche. Some of it actually makes sense in clearing up a few of the more mysterious parts of the Conquest.)

Steele, Philip. The Aztec News. Candlewick Press: 1997. (Kids’ book in form of newspaper. Well done.)

Velasquez, Pedro. From John L. Stevens et al. Memoir of an Eventful Expedition in Central America; Resulting in the Discovery of the Idolatrous City of Iximaya, in an Unexplored Region; and the Possession of Two Remarkable Aztec Children, Descendants and Specimens of the Sacerdotal Caste, (Now Nearly Extinct) of the Ancient Aztec Founders of the Ruined Temples of that Country, Described by John L. Stevens, Esq., and Other Travellers. New York: J. W. Bell, 1850. Taped covers, possible first, but want the illustrated English edition.
Sabin 98812: "The Spanish original of the above and its author are myths. The chief interest lies in its connection with the history of the American circus, having been published to advertise the exhibition of the supposed "Aztec" children. A ms. note of E.G. S[quier] filed with Joseph Sabin's memoranda states that the children were born in the town of Usulutan, or Usulatan, south west of San Miguel, of mixed Indian, Spanish, and negro stock. Frequently reprinted in connection with exhibitions in the United States and in England, with the title 'Illustrated Memoir.' As is hinted in the title, the whole purpose of this hoax, which became a travelling performance, was to capitalize on the extraordinary interest that Stephens' two books on his discoveries in the Mayan lands had aroused. It can also be classed as 'Lost Race fiction.'"

Wallace, Lew. The Fair God, or, The Last of the ‘Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico. Houghton, Mifflin: 1873. VG/No 1887.

Watson, Virginia; Frank E. Schoonover (illus.) With Cortes the Conqueror.
Hampton Publishing Co.: (orig. 1917). VG/No. (Original edition is by Penn Pub. Co., this is probably 30's reprint.)


Acosta, Joseph de. De Natura Novi Orbis. Salamanca: 1590. (or any English translation)
Aguilar, Fray Francisco de. Relacion Breve de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana (1560-1565) Mexico City: UNAM, 1977
Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando de. Obras Historicas (1625) Mexico City: UNAM, 1985
Benson, Elizabeth (ed.) Ritual Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica.Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1984.
Beristain y Souza, Jose Mariano. Biblioteca Hispano Americana Septentrional . Amecameca: Colegio Catolico, 1883-1889 (3 vols + supplements). This may have been reprinted in 1980s.
Berlin, Heinrich (ed.) Anales de Tlatelolco (1530). Mexico: Robredo y Editorial Porrua, 1948
Brundage, Burr Cartwright. A Rain of Darts. Austin: Univ. Texas, 1972.
Emmart, Emily Walcott (ed.) Badianus Manuscript (Codex Barberini, Latin 241). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1940.
Lanyon, Anna. Malinche's Conquest. Allen & Unwin, 2000.

Browsers' Bookstore
121 NW 4th St.
Corvallis, OR 97330

(541) 758-1121

Browsers' Bookstore, Vol. II
1425 Pacific Blvd. SE
Albany, Oregon 97321

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Elders of 4 Colors 4 Directions
Hitec Aztec Collaborations/FM Global
We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Texas Mayor Caught in Deportation Furor

Randy Kennedy | NY Times
April 5, 2009, A1, 14-15.

Texas Mayor Caught in Deportation Furor

IRVING, Tex. — Just after sunrise one morning last summer, as his two sons hurried out the door to school, Oscar Urbina might have presented a portrait of domestic stability in this Dallas suburb, a 35-year-old man with a nice home, a thriving family and a steady contracting job.

Skip to next paragraphBut a few weeks earlier, after buying a Dodge Ram truck at a local dealership, he had been summoned back to deal with some paperwork problems. And shortly after he arrived, so did the police, who arrested him on charges of using a false Social Security number.

Mr. Urbina does not deny it; he has been living illegally in the Dallas area since coming to the country from Mexico in 1993. But the turn of events stunned him in a once-welcoming place where people had never paid much attention to Social Security numbers.

If the arrest had come earlier, it might have had little effect on his life. But two years ago, Irving made a decision, championed by its first-term mayor, Herbert A. Gears, to conduct immigration checks on everyone booked into the local jail. So Mr. Urbina was automatically referred to the federal authorities and now faces possible deportation, becoming one of more than 4,000 illegal immigrants here who have ended up in similar circumstances.

As battles over illegal immigration rage around the country, Irving’s crackdown is not unusual in itself. What makes it striking is that it happened with the blessing of a mayor like Mr. Gears, an immigrant-friendly Democrat with deep political ties to the city’s Hispanic leaders, a man who likes to preach that adapting to immigration — especially in a city like his, now almost half-Hispanic — is not a burden but an opportunity, or as he says, it’s “not a have-to, it’s a get-to.”

But as a wave of sentiment against illegal immigration built around Dallas and the nation, Mr. Gears came to realize that [A14] his city would be unable to remain on the sidelines — and that his own political future would depend on how he navigated newly treacherous terrain.

Irving is one of a growing number of cities across America where immigration control, a federal prerogative, is reshaping politics at the other end of the spectrum, the local level, in the absence of a national policy overhaul. To watch its experiment play out over the better part of the past year in City Hall and in its residents’ lives is to see how difficult political moderation has become in the debate over what to do with the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Irving’s jail program was started by the city’s police chief as an experiment with federal immigration officials. But Mr. Gears saw in it a kind of release valve for the political pressure building around him, which had been energized by much more aggressive measures to force out illegal immigrants in Farmers Branch, a smaller suburb next door.

“I let my instincts rule the moment in that instance,” he said. “What weighed heavily in my thoughts is that if we didn’t do something, a lot more immigrants were going to be hurt.”

“And now,” Mr. Gears added ruefully, “I’m the hero of every redneck in America.”

Nationally, most of the attention in the immigration fight has centered on smaller cities that have taken a hard line on illegal immigration, like Farmers Branch and Hazleton, Pa., or on cities that have moved to protect illegal immigrants, like San Francisco and New Haven.

Irving is one of the places with a growing percentage of illegal immigrants that has tried to take — Mr. Gears’s critics say has stumbled upon — a much less explored middle road.

As a first-ring suburb whose non-Hispanic white population has slipped from the majority in the last few years, Irving describes itself as a multicultural community. Under Mr. Gears, it recently opened a hospital clinic that caters to low-income patients, many of them Hispanic, and gave $100,000 to support its fledgling Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

But even as it was doing so, its policy on immigration checks prompted the Mexican consul in Dallas to issue an unusual warning to Mexican immigrants to stay clear of Irving. And businesses both Hispanic-owned and not, including Wal-Mart, began howling to the mayor that fear was driving away Hispanic customers.

Mr. Gears, 46, is a big, gregarious, politically agile Texan who won re-election last May against an opponent whose campaign promised much tougher immigration measures. The mayor describes the rise of such sentiment around him as disturbing, a manifestation of “domestic extremism,” and he derides its adherents as “the crankies.”

“We defeated the crankies, and no one thought we could,” Mr. Gears said of his re-election. “We’ve defined what our responsibility is, and that’s only to allow the federal government to do its job. It’s not our responsibility to evaluate it or assess whether it’s good or not.”

Mr. Gears happened to be making these points in a booth at his favorite local bar, where he was being served by his favorite waitress, a friendly mother of five — in the country illegally — whom he has known for years and tips lavishly to help her make ends meet.

He acknowledges that Irving’s policy, whose chief goal is to get rid of dangerous criminals who are in the country illegally, has resulted in “casualties,” with many people deported as a result of lesser, nonviolent offenses like driving without a license or insurance.

The police chief, Larry Boyd, said he believed that the city’s enviable crime rate (last year was its lowest on record) is at least partly due to the deportation program. “You will never hear me blaming Irving’s crime problems on illegal immigration,” Chief Boyd said. But he added that the program “keeps some criminals off of Irving’s streets longer and potentially keeps them off of Irving’s streets for good.”

The city’s political straddle on immigration has angered and confounded Mr. Gears’s opponents. Critics to the right accuse him of opportunism and of shirking his duty to legal residents. Advocates for the immigrants accuse him essentially of undercutting them.

But Mr. Gears’s position is one he seems to struggle every day to defend, said Carlos Quintanilla, a vocal advocate who, like many other Hispanic leaders, initially supported the jail program but now deplores it.

“I call Herb the most tormented man in America,” Mr. Quintanilla said.

The Hard-liners

Lucia Rottenberg, an Irving resident for almost 40 years, was upset in June 2007 when she stood at a City Council meeting in the amphitheater-like chambers at City Hall. Citing fears of crime, disease and economic harm to her city, Ms. Rottenberg called for tougher measures against illegal immigrants and bragged that her husband used his vacation time to volunteer with the Texas Minutemen, a contentious civilian group that tries to keep people from crossing the border illegally.

As she turned to leave the lectern, Mr. Gears leaned into his microphone and stopped her.

“I need to clear something up, because I was told something that was disturbing,” he said. “Were you at a meeting, a club meeting, where applause was given to the comment that anyone who comes over the border should be shot?”

Ms. Rottenberg, who has contributed to one of Mr. Gears’s campaigns and whom Mr. Gears said he considers a friend, confirmed she was at the meeting. “I don’t remember if there was applause or not,” she said, taken aback.

“Did you make that remark?” Mr. Gears asked.

“Yes, I did,” she admitted, her voice rising. “And my frustration is this — ”

Mr. Gears cut her short: “You don’t have to explain it to me. I understand.”

It was at that Council session that the city adopted the federal cooperation program for residency checks inside the jail. It was also a public turning point in the political reorientation of Mr. Gears, who spoke volubly, sometimes irascibly, in defense of the checks while trying to shame those he saw as using immigration to divide the city further.

“I viewed it as something that would be painful to some, and so that was distasteful to me,” Mr. Gears said later about the jail policy. “But we were in a battle here on this issue.”

Like many Texas cities its size, Irving was mostly white a generation ago, a farming town turned sprawling suburb as middle-class families flocked to its affordable neighborhoods.

In 1970, when the city’s population hit 100,000, the Census estimated that less than 5 percent was Hispanic. By 1990 the percentage had tripled, during the next decade it doubled, and it is now thought to be 45 percent or higher. In the fall of 2008, the last time a count was taken, 70 percent of the students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade in Irving’s schools were Hispanic.

While no one knows exactly how much of that increase was a result of illegal immigration, Irving was one of several Dallas suburbs that experienced a huge influx of illegal workers as part of the wave that has tripled the nation’s illegal population since 1996. Officials estimate that more than 20 percent of Irving’s 200,000 residents may be in the country illegally.

A drive down North Belt Line Road, one of the city’s commercial spines, takes a visitor past a big Kroger grocery store whose next-door neighbor is a La Michoacana Meat Market almost its equal in size. Both stores sit not far from dozens of Hispanic restaurants, laundries, stores, auto-repair garages and curanderas, or psychics’ shops, scattered throughout the city’s south side.

Some white, longtime Irving residents say illegal immigration has done much more to erode than bolster the city’s older shopping strips and neighborhoods, its image and its property values. They complain to Mr. Gears about white flight from the Irving Mall and about well-kept older residential blocks marred by “patrón houses,” overcrowded single-family homes, clustered with cars, used as bunkhouses for illegal workers.

Beth Van Duyne, a city councilwoman who advocates tougher immigration policies and has battled Mr. Gears, likes to show visitors a favorite exhibit in her case, a hulking big-box store that was once a Montgomery Ward. It is now called Irving Bazaar, a battered flea-market-like assortment of merchants with handmade window advertisements in Spanish for wrestling matches and cheap jewelry.

“People hate it,” Ms. Van Duyne said. “It’s just not a good thing to have in your city.”

Such discontent had been rising for years, though as recently as 2005, when Mr. Gears was elected to his first term, it remained well below the political surface. Sue Richardson, the vice president of the Greater Irving Republican Club and probably Mr. Gears’s most persistent opponent, said she believed that it had finally risen into view because many people realized Irving was in the midst of a “silent invasion” from Mexico.

“The people who come here illegally across the border are not educated people,” Ms. Richardson said. “They don’t have any culture or any respect for ours.”

A Political Career

Arriving one fall morning at a regular kaffeeklatsch of longtime residents — a mostly white group that once held court in a diner but, since it closed, has moved to a Mexican restaurant — Mr. Gears made his way around the table shaking hands and telling jokes. “This is where I cut my teeth,” he said. “These are the people who really run the place.”

He looks and often plays the part of a good old boy, a flamboyant dresser with flashy gold-rimmed eyeglasses and rings and cufflinks embossed with pictures of Elizabeth Taylor, who reminds him of his mother when she was young. Mr. Gears’s stamina and self-confidence as a talker can evoke a combination of used-car salesman and Southern Baptist preacher, though his fondness for vodka, Marlboro reds and easygoing profanity might disqualify him from the pulpit.

“You’re going to think I’m making this up, but I was known as Bubba when I was young,” he said. “Now when I go back to the country they call me Mayor Bubba.”

Mr. Gears makes a comfortable living running a financial consulting firm with [A15] his wife. But he owes his political career to the poor and the working class, both Hispanic and not. A pivotal issue in his first City Council campaign (the contests are nonpartisan, though Mr. Gears describes himself as a conservative Democrat) was his support for beleaguered mobile home residents, and the “trailer-house vote,” as he likes to call it, made the difference.

He could readily identify with those voters. He was born in East Texas to a deeply troubled mother who raised him and his two sisters mostly by herself while wrestling with poverty and drug addiction; she committed suicide at 63.

Mr. Gears clearly relishes the political life and thrives in it. He raised almost $100,000 in contributions in last year’s mayoral race, a huge sum for such suburban contests. But he says he has no higher political aspirations than perhaps to serve another term or two as mayor. He jokes that “the Democrats wouldn’t have me — especially now — and I wouldn’t have the Republicans.” Still, he counts among his backers powerful and wealthy real-estate developers, and his political options remain open.

In public, Mr. Gears reveals few hints of the internal turmoil that friends describe. His oldest Hispanic friends say they understand why he supports the jail policy but add that the position has always sat uncomfortably on the shoulders of a man who has long worked for Hispanic causes, including serving as president of a local nonprofit group that helps immigrants.

“I think the world of Herb,” said Platon Lerma, who is considered the grandfather of Irving’s Hispanic activists. But Mr. Lerma, 82, said he believed that the immigration checks had betrayed the mayor’s ideals.

“To me the program itself is a crime, in human terms,” he said. “We’re breaking up families. We’re not doing right in the eyes of God.”

But in the next breath he added that Mr. Gears had simply chosen “the best of several evils.” Hispanic residents of Irving do not vote in large numbers, Mr. Lerma explained, and it had become apparent that too many other voters were clamoring for immigration change.

If the election last year had gone to Mr. Gears’s closest opponent, a lawyer, Roland Jeter — who had warned that Irving was becoming a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants — it would have almost certainly sent the city down a more stringent path.

In his campaign, Mr. Jeter advocated joining a federal program that deputizes police officers as immigration agents. The program has resulted in large numbers of deportations in other cities, and has sometimes led them to initiate other aggressive measures to round up illegal immigrants.

Still, even the more passive approach taken by Irving soon became unpopular among Hispanics. In 2006, before the systematic jail checks began, local police officers were handing about 300 people a year to the federal government for immigration reasons. By the summer of 2007, as many as 300 people a month were entering immigration proceedings, and Mr. Quintanilla, the Hispanic advocate who only three months earlier had spoken in support of the policy at the City Council hearing, helped organize protests against it.

Mr. Gears soon found himself defending the approach on national television while trying to deflect blame toward those he believes are responsible for the problem.

“The complaint that people have with this program,” he said on CNN, “should be directed at the federal government.”

Restive Allies

Now, nearly a year after his re-election, Mr. Gears is still vilified by his conservative opponents while also facing a simmering rebellion from Mr. Quintanilla and other Hispanic leaders, who say the jail policy has unnecessarily damaged the lives of people who have had no serious run-ins with the law.

As of early March, of the 4,074 people whose arrest led to their being handed over to immigration officials, 129 had been charged with violent crimes or illegal possession of weapons, and 714 with other types of serious felonies. In addition, 579 had been charged with driving while intoxicated. The other 2,625 had been arrested for lesser offenses; the largest categories were public intoxication and not having a driver’s license or insurance.

If he were in charge of changing federal policy, Mr. Gears said, he would find a way to allow many illegal immigrants to move toward citizenship. It is a goal that was sought by President George W. Bush and now, in a similar plan, by President Obama.

For now, Mr. Gears is still smiling, still talking and still trying to be the mayor of all of Irving’s inhabitants, even those he knows might soon be gone, like Mr. Urbina, the illegal immigrant who now awaits a deportation hearing.

Not long before Mr. Urbina’s arrest, the mayor tossed out the first pitch at the opening of a Pony Baseball World Series for 9- and 10-year-olds, who had come to town from places as far away as Puerto Rico and Mexico. The event felt like a United Nations game, with national flags and food and blaring music. “Isn’t this great?” Mr. Gears said. “This is what Irving’s all about.”

Using his scant Spanish to throw around the occasional greeting, the mayor took his place on the field in his French-cuffed shirt, sweating alongside players from one of Irving’s teams, their names spelled out on the backs of their jerseys: Gomez, Conaway, Aleman, Shastid, Riker, Flores, Herrin, Childress, Ehrke, Rodriguez.

As the strains of the Puerto Rican anthem faded from the loudspeakers, Mr. Gears took the mound and wound up. His pitch was low, but the catcher scooped it up from the dirt, and the mayor walked off to generous applause.

“Fighting him is kind of like fighting against your brother,” Mr. Quintanilla said of his friend the mayor. “But you put your guard down, and the first thing you know you’re being hit in the face.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 12, 2009
An article last Sunday about a crackdown on illegal immigrants in Irving, Tex., referred incorrectly to a big-box store known as Irving Bazaar, which houses a flea-market-like assortment of merchants who cater to the immigrants. It was once a Montgomery Ward, not a Wal-Mart. And a map with the article mislabeled one of the states whose law enforcement officers cooperate with federal authorities by arresting immigration law violators. It is Alabama, not Mississippi.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In Mexican Drug War, Investigators Are Fearful

Published: October 16, 2009

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — The hit men moved in on their target, shot him dead and then disappeared in a matter of seconds. It would have been a perfect case for José Ibarra Limón, one of this violent border city’s most dogged crime investigators — had he not been the victim.

Mexico has never been particularly adept at bringing criminals to justice, and the drug war has made things worse. Investigators are now swamped with homicides and other drug crimes, most of which they will never crack. On top of the standard obstacles — too little expertise, too much corruption — is one that seems to grow by the day: outright fear of becoming the next body in the street.

Mr. Ibarra was killed on July 27 in what his bosses at the federal attorney general’s office consider an assassination related to a case he was investigating. As if to prove the point, less than a month later, one of the lawyers who had worked for Mr. Ibarra also turned up dead. Two days afterward, an investigator named to replace Mr. Ibarra insisted on being transferred out of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s murder capital.

The current prosecutor investigating Mr. Ibarra’s cases is working anonymously, his or her name kept secret by the government.

The Mexican government knows that revamping its problem-plagued justice system is an essential part of breaking the cartels that control vast areas of Mexico. Major efforts are under way to make the judiciary faster and fairer, and the United States has contributed millions of dollars to help bring more criminals to justice.

But even with training programs by American lawyers and judges, American aid to improve forensics and screen more effectively for corruption, as well as other cross-border initiatives, the traffickers and the cumulative pressures they are putting on the judiciary are straining it as never before.

“Obviously what happened affects us,” said Hector García Rodríguez, the federal prosecutor in Juárez and the supervisor of the slain investigator. “We’re still working. We can’t stop. But we know the dangers we face.”

President Felipe Calderón points to the arrests of more than 50,000 people on drug charges since he began his antidrug offensive in December 2006. Many of the arrests appear to have come from top-notch detective work. Other suspects, though, are quietly released after they have been paraded before the news media.

The federal government refused to provide statistics on how many arrests had resulted in convictions, how many suspects were still under investigation or how many arrests had proved to be mistakes. But independent reviews by scholars suggest that only about a quarter of crimes in Mexico are ever reported and that only a small fraction ever result in convictions.

Compounding matters is the sheer number of crimes, especially murders. On a single September night in Ciudad Juárez, 18 men were shot to death in a drug treatment center near the border, more than the number of killings all year long in El Paso, just across the Texas border.

“Law enforcement is overwhelmed,” said David A. Shirk, a professor at the University of San Diego and the principal investigator for the Justice in Mexico Project, a binational research initiative. “If you have murders with 13 bodies one day and then you have 4 more the next, there’s not a lot of investigation into who pulled the trigger specifically.”

Fear Gets in the Way

One of the two dozen or so cases that Mr. Ibarra had been investigating involved the killing of a journalist, Armando Rodríguez Carreón, 40, who had produced a string of scoops as the longtime crime reporter for the newspaper El Diario. Mr. Rodríguez was shot to death last Nov. 13 as he prepared to take his 8-year-old daughter to school. She was at his side and saw her father struck by at least 10 bullets.

“It was similar to hundreds of homicides we’ve had here,” remarked Mr. García, Mr. Ibarra’s supervisor. “It was an execution.”

It is also similar in that the perpetrators remain at large. Fear prevents many cases from being solved because investigators hesitate to dig too deeply, and witnesses refuse to talk.

“Nobody cooperates with anything,” Mr. García complained. “They’re too afraid. Nobody wants to say what they saw. Nobody wants to give you a plate number.”

Mexico is promoting confidential telephone lines and rewards to encourage witnesses, but resistance lingers, especially when news reports circulate about threats made to those who do call in. And there is considerable doubt that the reward money is worth the risk.

The attacks on investigators only magnify the problem.

“If you had a difficult case, you went to him and said, ‘Ibarra, what do you think?’ ” Mr. García said. Now in trying to solve Mr. Ibarra’s murder, his colleagues wonder aloud how he might have pursued his killers, possibly four men in all, who shot him many times in the head with .45-caliber and 9-millimeter weapons.

The slain journalist’s wife, Blanca Martínez, said that she had met once with Mr. Ibarra, but that she did not think he had been murdered for closing in on her husband’s killers, despite his reputation for solving difficult crimes.

“I don’t think he was really investigating,” she said. Prosecutors had asked once to interview her young daughter, a witness, but had never followed up, Ms. Martínez said.

Pedro Torres, Mr. Rodríguez’s editor and close friend, was similarly unimpressed with the government’s effort to find the killers of his top police reporter.

Investigators waited for months before visiting the newsroom, interviewing some of Mr. Rodríguez’s co-workers and getting copies of his articles. The government has not yet established whether Mr. Rodríguez’s killing stemmed from his work as a police reporter, infuriating his colleagues, who are convinced that such a connection is clear.

“He’s the godfather of my child,” Mr. Torres said. “I’ve known him for years. They’ve never talked to me. What kind of investigation is that?”

Slipshod Investigations

One of the forensic specialists who photograph bodies, lift fingerprints and count spent bullets at Juárez homicide scenes complained that by the time he arrived at a site, significant tampering had already taken place.

“The soldiers come in and walk over everything,” complained the specialist, who spoke anonymously in an out-of-the-way steak restaurant because his supervisors had not authorized him to give an interview. “They leave their fingerprints all around. They want to know who died, so they move the body. They kick the bullets. They don’t realize they’re contaminating the crime scene.”

Thousands of soldiers, deployed by the president in his war against the cartels, patrol the streets of Juárez alongside the local police. Trained to take on enemy combatants, they are far less familiar with the sanctity of crime scenes, the rules of evidence and other basics of law enforcement.

Many police officers also meddle with crime scenes, sometimes out of incompetence, but sometimes to throw off the investigation or to enrich themselves.

“If the victim’s watch is missing, that could be important because it could mean it was a robbery,” the forensic specialist said. “But we can’t rule out that one of the police officers at the scene took it.”

The joint military-police mission now combating traffickers in Juárez presents a more positive picture. It cites the recent arrests of three men suspected of being hired killers, who in August implicated themselves and a fourth suspect in 211 homicides, an eye-popping number even in Mexico.

To trumpet the breakthrough, the government took out newspaper ads listing all the people the suspects were accused of killing. One man alone was linked to 101 murders.

The authorities said the arrests resulted from ballistics investigations, which are modern enough here in Chihuahua State that the El Paso Police Department used them for years for its own investigations. But the men also confessed to the murders, the authorities said, and questions were raised in the local news media about whether the detainees had been coerced, a frequent problem in Mexico.

“We solve our crimes with evidence, and they solve them with confessions,” said the El Paso County sheriff, Richard D. Wiles. “We have strict rules to follow on how to get confessions. The rules are looser over there.”

In a recent assessment of Mexico’s adherence to human rights, the State Department noted that 21 torture complaints and 580 complaints of cruel or degrading treatment had been made against the Mexican authorities in 2008, a significant increase from the year before.

And yet, the report said: “Since 2007, we are not aware that any official has ever been convicted of torture, giving rise to concern about impunity. Despite the law’s provisions to the contrary, police and prosecutors have attempted to justify an arrest by forcibly securing a confession of a crime.”

Without a Trace

Along the border, many victims are never found, leaving relatives — and investigators — in a state of limbo.

Fernando Ocegueda Flores, a founder of an advocacy group in Tijuana for relatives of the disappeared, felt an odd mixture of despair and relief in January, when the police announced that a suspect, Santiago Meza López, had admitted to disposing of the remains of 300 bodies for a drug cartel by dissolving them in barrels of lye.

Mr. Ocegueda thought that maybe his son, abducted in 2007, had been one of the victims of the Pozolero, a nickname for Mr. Meza that translates roughly as the stew maker. Mr. Ocegueda thought his years of trying to learn his son’s fate might end.

Federal authorities took Mr. Meza to Mexico City for questioning and began testing some remains. But the bones were so corroded by the lye that no DNA was found, the authorities have said.

Mr. Ocegueda contends that the investigators should be doing more, like digging up the yard where Mr. Meza said he had disposed of the bodies after boiling them, to search for more bones to test. The yard is guarded by the federal police, but a human jaw bone with a tooth attached and various suspicious mounds of earth were visible inside.

Frustrated, Mr. Ocegueda said that if the site was not properly investigated soon, he and other relatives planned to storm the place with shovels and begin digging themselves.

But a coroner’s investigator who has reviewed some of the remains from such barrels in other cases said the traffickers covered their tracks well.

“You can’t tell by looking that it’s a human being,” said the investigator, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “It’s a glob of something, and the DNA is gone.”

Cross-Border Police Work

Every month, law enforcement officials from both sides of the border, whether from the F.B.I. or the Tijuana police, gather to talk shop at a chain restaurant in southern California.

“Without cooperation, so many cases would sit still,” said the California investigator who convenes the sessions, Val Jimenez, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Officers Association. Cross-border policing has caught child molesters, car thieves and murderers.

It also helped solve one particularly grisly missing person case.

Daniel LaPorte, 27, disappeared after heading across the border to Baja California from San Diego last year. Eventually, his green Cadillac was found south of Tijuana, outside Rosarito Beach, with four dead people in and around it. None were Mr. LaPorte.

As the family’s private investigator looked into the case with police officers from San Diego and Baja California, a Mexican detective mentioned that a barrel apparently containing human remains had been discovered not far from the location of the quadruple homicide.

Luck played a role in identifying the remains. It had rained heavily after the barrel had been abandoned on a remote hillside, investigators said. The barrel had fallen over and some of the bones had been washed away by the rain, diluting the corrosive solution and preventing all the DNA from being stripped away. Laboratory tests conducted in Tijuana showed that the remains were Mr. LaPorte’s.

Investigators eventually determined that Mr. LaPorte had been involved in trafficking marijuana from Mexico to Rhode Island, some of it in surfboards. He had probably bought several tons of marijuana a year, the family’s investigator said.

Mr. Jimenez and some of the other law enforcement officials who work on these joint investigations are sympathetic to the policing challenges their Mexican counterparts face.

“We don’t think we’re going to die when we go to work, but over there it is a real possibility,” Mr. Jimenez said. “A lot of them want to do good police work, but there are some cases they can’t do because of the pressure of the cartels.”

Arresting the Wrong People

Alejandra González Licea said the only conceivable ties she had ever had to drug trafficking were purely academic ones. A linguistics professor who wrote her thesis on narcocorridos, the Mexican ballads that often extol the exploits of drug bosses, Ms. González found herself blindfolded and handcuffed by soldiers this year and interrogated about which drug cartel was employing her.

Her answer — the Autonomous University of Baja California — did not impress her interrogators. The professor and her husband endured months of detention before the charges were quietly dropped. The $28,000 in cash they were caught carrying was a gift from an uncle in the United States to help them remodel their home, it was determined, not illicit drug profits they were laundering.

After her initial detention, Ms. González was led to a news conference, where journalists were gathered to photograph her. She stood next to her husband and two men she did not know. On the table before them, much to her surprise, was nearly half a million dollars.

It turned out that she was being grouped with two money-laundering suspects arrested the same night with a much larger amount of cash. It would take two and a half months before a judge would throw out the case against her and her husband for lack of proof.

Mexico has approved a sweeping overhaul of its judiciary to replace its closed-door judicial proceedings with trials in which defendants like Ms. González are considered innocent until proved guilty. But revamping the system is no easy feat. It requires retraining lawyers and judges, rebuilding courtrooms and improving forensic technology, all while trying to keep on top of a flood of new cases.

Police forces are also getting an overhaul. Officers in Tijuana and Juárez, two of the most violence-prone cities, have been fired en masse after being linked to organized crime. The two federal police agencies have been reorganized under a single commander. Beyond that, a new police training institute has been established and the government has set up a national database to share information and intelligence.

Still, Ms. González, now back at her teaching job, shook her head when asked about the Mexican government’s competence. She doubts the official statistics, since she figures she was one of the 50,000 people that the president cited as drug suspects.

“They didn’t even find out that I wrote my thesis on narcocorridos,” she said of those who were prosecuting her. “Good thing they didn’t find out.”

Doing What Police Won’t

The authorities discourage civilians from investigating their own cases because of the obvious dangers involved. But many grow tired of waiting for the police and, having no luck with private investigators, conduct their own inquiries.

Cristina Palacios, president of the Citizens’ Association Against Impunity, recounted how one of her members, a Tijuana woman whose brother had been kidnapped, offered a reward herself, furious at how little had been done to investigate the disappearance.

Shadowy men contacted the woman, and she agreed to be taken away with a blindfold, Ms. Palacios said. Soon the woman found herself in a room where a man tied to a chair was being beaten by a group of men. The man confessed to killing her brother.

The next day, the woman, who declined to speak on the record about what occurred, saw in the newspaper that a body had been found. It looked like the man in the chair, Ms. Palacios said.

Mr. Ocegueda, in search of his missing son, had a similar experience. One night, in the course of his personal investigation, he allowed himself to be led away with his eyes covered and driven for about 40 minutes by a man he met who had links to traffickers.

Eventually, he was led into a home, where he said a gruff man told him, “You’re very brave to come here.”

Apparently impressed by his gumption, the man gave Mr. Ocegueda a shot of whiskey and told him that his son had been killed and would never be found. His remains had been destroyed in lye, the man said.

But Mr. Ocegueda, continuing to investigate, later found another organized crime figure, who led him in another direction. This time, he was told his son was alive and working for traffickers. Now, he does not know what to think.

“The police are supposed to be doing this, not me,” he said. “But they don’t want to investigate because they don’t want to solve these crimes. They might be killed if they find the truth. I don’t care if they kill me.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cartel figure set to plead guilty in San Diego

By ELLIOT SPAGAT (AP) – Oct 15, 2009

SAN DIEGO — A high-ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel will plead guilty in San Diego, nearly a decade after being arrested at his son's soccer game.

Jesus "Chuy" Labra of the Arellano Felix drug cartel was extradited to the United States from Mexico to face drug, racketeering and money laundering charges. A federal court docket says Labra will change his plea Thursday but does not say on which charges.

The cartel was near the height of its power in March 2000 when Labra was arrested at a school in Tijuana, Mexico.

Labra is accused of tapping extensive connections with Colombian cocaine traffickers and Mexican marijuana growers and regularly participating in the cartel's major decisions.

Probe of Mexican drug cartel leads to hundreds of U.S. arrests

Authorities say recent raids have targeted La Familia Michoacana's fast-growing operations in California, Texas and other states.

By Josh Meyer | LA Times
October 23, 2009

Reporting from Washington - Drug agents swept through Los Angeles and dozens of other locations Wednesday and Thursday, arresting more than 300 people and seizing large quantities of drugs, weapons and money in the biggest U.S. crackdown against a Mexican drug cartel.

The months-long offensive, the fruit of dozens of federal investigations over the last 3 1/2 years, will put a significant dent in the U.S. operations of La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico's fastest-growing and deadliest cartels, authorities said.

"The sheer level and depravity of violence that this cartel has exhibited far exceeds what we unfortunately have become accustomed to from other cartels, [and] the toxic reach of its operations extends to nearly every state within our own country," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said at a news conference in Washington to announce the arrests.

The investigation has involved hundreds of agents and analysts from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as prosecutors and other officials from the Justice Department.

"We're hitting them where we believe it hurts the most: their revenue stream," Holder said. "By seizing their drugs and upending their supply chains, we have disrupted their business-as-usual state of operations."

In all, authorities have arrested nearly 1,200 suspected La Familia members or associates in recent months as part of "Project Coronado," the multi-agency effort to dismantle the organization's methamphetamine and cocaine distribution network in the United States.

But Holder and other officials acknowledged that La Familia has become too powerful, too politically entrenched -- and too popular with Mexico's citizens -- for the arrests to deal the cartel any kind of death blow.

"We have to work with our Mexican counterparts to really cut off the heads of these snakes and get at the heads of the cartels . . . either in Mexico or extradite them to the United States," he said.

For that to happen, U.S. authorities need the full cooperation of the Mexican government in arresting and prosecuting the leaders of La Familia. But according to court documents unsealed Thursday, few if any leaders have been taken into custody by Mexican authorities despite several being indicted in U.S. courts.

La Familia has been linked to hundreds of drug-related killings in Mexico, including the kidnapping, torture and killing of 12 federal agents in the western state of Michoacan, La Familia's home base.

Several senior U.S. drug officials said Mexico was cooperating but that La Familia's leaders were too well insulated to go after, protected not only by their own army but by corrupt police and politicians.

"It's a full-blown military operation to go in and get them," said one drug enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of U.S.-Mexico counter-narcotics relations.

A Mexican counter-narcotics official agreed, saying his country had thrown thousands of troops and police at La Familia but that the cartel's chieftains were even more elusive than others.

"They rarely spend two or three nights in the same place, and when they do, they live in these very fortified compounds," said the official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing similar sensitivities. "It is even more difficult for us because they buy not only information, but they buy protection from the very guys that are supposed to get them."

Although a relative newcomer to Mexico's drug underworld, La Familia has quickly become one of the most violent, quick to attack Mexican troops and lawmakers who have tried to halt its expansion, U.S. counter-narcotics officials said.

La Familia now competes with the established Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. But in an unusual twist, its leaders espouse a religious philosophy, asking core members to carry Bibles and attend church.

The cartel manufactures tons of methamphetamine strictly for export to the United States, prohibiting its own soldiers from using illegal drugs or selling them in Mexico, said Michele Leonhart, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Such tactics have made La Familia something of a Robin Hood-type organization within Mexico, several drug enforcement officials said Thursday.

"We are fighting an organization whose brutal violence is driven by so-called divine justice," Leonhart said. "Accordingly, La Familia's narco-banner declared that they don't kill for money and they don't kill innocent people. However, their delivery of that message was accompanied by five severed heads rolled onto a dance floor in Uruapan, Mexico."

The indictments unsealed Thursday provide a rare look inside the highly disciplined and secretive organization, which is also involved in counterfeiting, extortion, prostitution and armed robbery.

Most of those arrested in the U.S. are believed to be foot soldiers or associates of the cartel, but some have direct ties to La Familia leadership in Michoacan, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have indicted five suspected La Familia members with the help of several undercover informants. One of the indicted is Gerardo Rodriguez-Lopez, a fugitive who authorities allege ran a methamphetamine smuggling operation from Mexico through Los Angeles County to Minnesota, Kansas, Georgia and Texas.

Overall, the DEA said, at least 24 people were arrested in Southern California during the latest raids, many of them alleged La Familia members or associates from three separate drug distribution cells.

Over the last two days, authorities arrested 90 people in Dallas and dozens more in Atlanta and other large urban hubs of La Familia.

But many other arrests occurred in small towns and rural communities in Washington state, Texas, California, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina and elsewhere.

Times staff writers Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City, Sam Quinones in San Bernardino and Richard Winton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

US arrests Mexico drugs suspects

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Police in the US say they have arrested more than 300 members of a Mexican drug cartel and seized tonnes of drugs in the biggest operation of its kind.

The crackdown against the powerful La Familia cartel, which has fought for control of lucrative smuggling routes between Mexico and the US, was announced on Thursday by Eric Holder, the US attorney-general.

"This operation has dealt a significant blow to La Familia's supply chain of illegal drugs, weapons, and cash flowing between Mexico and the United States," Holder said.

More than 3,000 US federal agents and police officers were sent out across 19 US states over the past two days as part of the operation.

The deployment was part of a wider operation that has resulted in 1,200 arrests since 2005.

Mexican crackdown

Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president, has sent out 50,000 troops across his country in an attempt to stamp out drug gangs.

However, the operation has not stemmed Mexico's severe drugs-related violence that has killed about 14,000 people since late 2006.

The La Familia cartel has control of drug production and distribution in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacan and ships large quantities of cocaine and methampetamines to the US from there, US officials allege.

"The La Familia cartel has demonstrated an incredible level of sophistication and ruthlessness," Holder said.

"By seizing their drugs and upending their supply chains, we have disrupted their 'business as usual' state of operations."

Holder said US officer seized $3.4m in cash, 144 weapons, 109 vehicles, 729 pounds (31 kilograms) of methamphetamines, 137 pounds (62 kilograms) of cocaine and 967 pounds (439 kilograms) of marijuana during the series of raids.

"These are drugs that were headed for our streets, and weapons that often were headed for the streets of Mexico," he said.

La Familia's operations "stretch far into the United States," Holder said, calling the gang the "most violent" of the five main Mexican drug cartels.

Rising violence

A New York grand jury has indicted Servando Gomez-Martinez, the alleged chief of La Familia, and three other gang members on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and methamphetamines.

If convicted, they face at least 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Holder's statement comes a day after a Mexican government report said that the murder rate in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez has reached record levels amid a continuing battle between two cartels.

The city, which lies close to Mexico’s border with the US has reported 1,986 murders - almost all drug-related - by the middle of October this year, the report from the Chihuahua state attorney-general's office said.

That marks a rise from the 1,171 murders in Ciudad Juarez for the same period in 2008, the report said.

There have been 195 murders this month alone, officials said.

According to Victor Valencia, Chihuahua state's public safety secretary, the killings, averaging seven a day in the city of 1.5 million, and can be blamed on an escalating war between the Sinaloa cartel run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and the Juarez cartel.

The cartels are fighting for control of smuggling routes between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, over the US-Mexico border in Texas.

Is Mexico winning its war on drugs?

By Arthur Brice | CNN
October 23, 2009

(CNN) -- Mexico's arrest of drug cartel suspects has become fairly commonplace. On Thursday, it was six suspected members of La Familia, based in Michoacan. A day earlier, it was a man identified as a top leader of the ruthless Zetas.

Whether the arrests are making any difference in President Felipe Calderon's war on the narcotraffickers is another question.

Some analysts see them as proof that Calderon was right to declare an all-out fight after taking office in December 2006.

"The most important thing is that the Mexican government is on the offensive," said Bernard Aronson, U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs from 1989 to 1993. "They're not in a state of denial. They're getting going."

Other analysts are not so sure, particularly since more than 12,000 people have been killed since Calderon became president.

"It's really more of the same," said John Mill Ackerman, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "This doesn't necessarily give me confidence as to the success of government strategy."

The war has unleashed an unprecedented carnage as rival drug gangs fight for territory and routes into the lucrative U.S. market. They're also fighting among themselves for leadership spots as former drug lords are arrested or killed.

Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S. border and the main battleground for the cartels, has already recorded 2,000 drug-related fatalities this year. Officials point out that most of those killings involve criminals doing each other in. That doesn't matter, some analysts say.

"Mexicans are paying a huge price," said Ana Maria Salazar, a television and radio political commentator in Mexico City. "The rest of the world does not understand the price that's being paid."

Still, Salazar said, the war needed to be waged.

"I'm not sure where this is going, but something had to be done," she said.

Wednesday's arrest of Carlos Adrian Martinez Muniz, identified as the No. 2 person for the Zetas drug cartel in the Monterrey area in northeastern Mexico, is an example of how far the traffickers have come.

In addition to various drugs and weapons, Martinez Muniz was carrying deposit slips for payments for up to 7,150 people in different Mexican states, the nation's Ministry of Defense said. It was not immediately clear who the payments were to: public officials, other cartel members or both.

Los Zetas, formed by former Mexican elite commando-type soldiers, consists mostly of former federal and local police. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers the group among the most advanced and violent of Mexico's drug cartels.

"The Zetas were originally hired killers to protect certain businesses. Now they are rapidly becoming the bosses," Salazar said.

Martinez Muniz was carrying 143 files, each containing between 30 and 50 envelopes with deposit slips inside made out to different people in various states.

"It is a lot of people," said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. "It tells you that the networks of complicity are fairly extensive."

For Salazar, it shows that the cartels are more than "a bunch of thugs using violence to protect their turf." The cartels, she said, have evolved.

"It's very important to underline how these extremely violent organizations are transforming themselves and branching into other businesses," she said.

Then there's the issue of bribery and corruption.

Martinez Muniz's payoff ledger "emphasizes how these groups have become much more sophisticated, creating regional turf," she said. "They are systematically paying off public officials and others to take care of them and their structure."

Salazar said she believes a main reason Calderon started the crackdown was not just because of the harm drugs can have on society but also because of the corruption they can cause. Selee makes the same point.

"The problem is not the drug themselves," he said. "The main reason for going after the drug-trafficking organizations is that they are corrupting public life."

That's why, he said, "it's extremely important that the government begin to look at the links between the drug cartels and government officials."

If the payoffs were to public officials, Salazar wonders if the government will try to prosecute them.

"They have to do that to start debilitating these organizations," she said. "They can go against the drug cartels but are you going to go against the governors, the mayors? That's when we will suddenly understand the success of these policies."

Selee questions if the Mexican legal system is up to the task, saying the government has to "create the guarantees of rule of law, guarantees of due process."

In the meantime, he says, it's hard to tell how effective Calderon's offensive has been.

"I don't know what the long run will mean," Selee said. "Whether it will lead to a weakening of the cartels or other groups moving in."

But he's certain that "it's harder for the drug operations to move on the ground in the way they used to be able to."

Ackerman, the professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, is not convinced.

"I don't see any clear indication that the Mexican government is winning this war," he said.

Neither does David Shirk, a fellow at the Wilson Center and expert on Mexico's drug cartels.

Calderon's decision to use the army to fight the cartels has militarized the situation and been unsuccessful in reducing violence, he said.

Raid targets Mexican cartel; 303 arrested

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009

U.S. authorities arrested 303 people Wednesday and Thursday in a nationwide sweep targeting the distribution network of La Familia, a fast-rising Mexican drug cartel known for its violence, messianic culture and control over the methamphetamine trade, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday.

More than 3,000 federal, state and local agents participated in the U.S. law enforcement operation, the largest mounted against a Mexican cartel, Holder said.

The raids "dealt a significant blow to La Familia's supply chain," Holder said, netting cash, drugs, weapons and vehicles in 19 states. But U.S. officials did not say whether any cartel leaders were caught. "With the increases in cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities in recent years, we are taking the fight to our adversaries," Holder said.

Arrests took place in 38 cities, from Boston to Seattle, with 77 made in Dallas. The effort involved the Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Charges include drug and gun trafficking and money laundering.

Analysts said the operation appeared designed to allay skepticism among Mexico's political leaders about the U.S. government's commitment to Mexico's crackdown on cartels. The drug-related violence has taken about 15,000 lives since President Felipe Calderón entered office in 2006. Mexican authorities have arrested 80,000 drug suspects, and Washington has responded with $1.4 billion in aid under the Merida initiative, but some in Mexico have grown frustrated with the U.S. market's continuing demand for illegal drugs.

"Many Mexican leaders have viewed the Merida initiative as too little and too late," said George W. Grayson, a Mexico specialist at the College of William and Mary who has written about La Familia, "and so Washington is trying to make clear that we are good faith, genuine partners in the war against drugs."

La Familia, the newest of Mexico's five major cartels, has become entrenched in many U.S. cities after flourishing in Mexico through entrepreneurial zeal, brutality and promises to spin drug profits into "divine justice," or social benefits for its impoverished home state.

La Familia opposes the sale of methamphetamine to Mexicans, for example, but is responsible for the "vast majority" of the lucrative drug entering the United States from Mexico, said Michele M. Leonhart, acting DEA administrator.

The cartel, based in the southwestern Mexico state of Michoacan, has also benefited from a splintering of older cartels, and its effort to gain social legitimacy is combined with a savage program to kill, coerce and corrupt security and government personnel, Mexican analysts said.

In Washington, Holder said that U.S. authorities have targeted La Familia for 44 months. Under the effort, called Project Coronado, the federal government has arrested 1,186 people and seized $32.8 million, 2,710 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,999 kilograms of cocaine, 29 pounds of heroin, 16,390 pounds of marijuana, 389 weapons and 269 vehicles.

U.S. authorities indicted, but did not arrest, La Familia's operational chief, Servando Gomez-Martinez -- known as La Tuta.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U.S. Arrests Hundreds in Raids on Drug Cartel

Published: October 22, 2009

Calling it a “significant blow” to the operations of a major Mexican drug cartel, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday the arrests of 303 people and the seizure of illegal drugs, weapons and millions of dollars over the past two days in a series of coordinated raids in 19 states.

At a news conference in Washington, Mr. Holder said the raids were aimed at the United States operations of the La Familia Michoacán drug cartel, which he described as the newest and most violent of Mexico’s five drug cartels.

“While this cartel may operate from Mexico, the toxic reach of its operations extends to nearly every state within our own country,” he said.

In Dallas alone on Wednesday, he said, 77 people were arrested.

Beyond the arrests, Mr. Holder said, the authorities seized more than $32 million in United States currency, more than 2,700 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, about 16,000 pounds of marijuana and 29 pounds of heroin during the 44-month effort. More arrests are expected.

“These are drugs that were headed for our streets and weapons that often were headed for the streets of Mexico,” he said. “That’s why we are hitting them where it hurts the most — their revenue stream. By seizing their drugs and upending their supply chains, we have disrupted their ‘business-as-usual’ state of operations.”

The arrests were part of “Project Coronado,” focusing on La Familia, which controls drug manufacturing and distribution, mostly of methamphetamine and cocaine. The group began several years ago as a vigilante organization aimed at removing the influence of drug dealers in the state of Michoacán, but it has evolved into a ruthless cartel itself.

It now competes with the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels, but La Familia is unusual in that its leaders espouse a religious philosophy and ask the core members of the organization to carry bibles and attend church. It recruits heavily from drug rehabilitation centers in Michoacán.

Mr. Holder said that Project Coronado has led to the arrests of 1,186 people over 44 months, although it remains unclear how many are members of the cartel’s upper leadership or simply work for the cartel in various capacities.

Liz Robbins reported from New York and James C. McKinley Jr. from Houston.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mexican official in US custody doesn't want asylum

October 20, 2009

EL PASO, Texas — A Mexican human rights official who has publicly said he feared for his life has been detained by U.S. immigration authorities as an asylum-seeker — even though he doesn't want American protection, his lawyer said.

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson is being held indefinitely at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail in El Paso while the U.S. decides whether to grant him asylum.

De la Rosa, who travels frequently to the U.S. on a tourist visa, was detained Thursday when he tried to cross the border from Ciudad Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, said de la Rosa's El Paso lawyer, Carlos Spector.

A border agent asked him about previous comments that he feared he might be killed after claiming he had evidence of at least 170 cases of Mexican army human rights violations, Spector said. De la Rosa confirmed the media reports and reiterated his fears but never asked for asylum in the U.S., the lawyer said.

Roger Maier, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection whose agents interview people trying to enter the U.S. and refer asylum seekers to immigration officials, said if during an interview at the border someone expresses fear of being returned to their home country, officers are required to turn their case over to an asylum officer.

"The applicant does not have to specifically request asylum, they simply must express fear of being returned to their country," Maier said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said Monday she could not comment on the specifics of de la Rosa's case. But in a statement issued last week, she said de la Rosa was jailed because of "mandatory detention provisions and will be afforded all rights and procedures allowed under our laws."

De la Rosa is a government human rights official in Mexico's Chihuahua state, which includes Ciudad Juarez, where more than 3,000 people have been killed in the ongoing drug cartel war over the last two years. De la Rosa has said soldiers assigned to patrol the nearly lawless city have been committing human rights violations and other crimes.

He told reporters in El Paso recently that all his claims of human rights violations have been forwarded to Mexican military authorities in Mazatlan. But, he said, a judge there has not acted on a single case, including allegations that one soldier shot a man while others held the man's wife and child.

Last month, he said a man dressed in civilian clothes pointed a gun at him in traffic and threatened to kill him if he didn't stop his investigations.

"I'm afraid that my family is afraid. My family is scared," de la Rosa told reporters in El Paso, but added he would not seek asylum in the U.S.

Spector said the situation is a legal "nightmare," with de la Rosa stuck in jail while the asylum case he didn't want is reviewed. Such cases often take months, and the U.S. rarely grants asylum to citizens of ally countries.

"This is a very unusual way of forcing him to seek asylum so they can jail him and deny it," Spector said Saturday.

In the last few years countless Mexican nationals, including police officials, journalists and a prosecutor, have sought asylum in the U.S.

Asylum cases hinge on proving that a person is being persecuted because of his race, religion, political view, nationality or membership in a particular social group. The applicant also has to prove that his government is either part of the persecution or unable or unwilling to protect him, a difficult task when the asylum seeker is part of the government.

Spector said de la Rosa just wants to go back to work investigating human rights violations in Chihuahua state.

"He wants to remain living and working in Mexico," Spector said.