Nick Turse
Detained migrants describe overcrowded holding cells along the U.S.-Mexico border that are so cold they become ill.
(via Detained border crossers may find themselves sent to ‘the freezers’ | The Center for Investigative Reporting)

Detained migrants describe overcrowded holding cells along the U.S.-Mexico border that are so cold they become ill.

(via Detained border crossers may find themselves sent to ‘the freezers’ | The Center for Investigative Reporting)

Imagine that the United States had experienced an occupation by a foreign military force. Imagine millions or even tens of millions of American civilians dead or wounded as a result of an invasion and resulting civil strife.

Imagine a country in which your door might be kicked down in the dead…

American Refugees in Mexico?

Imagine that the United States had experienced an occupation by a foreign military force.  Imagine millions or even tens of millions of American civilians dead or wounded as a result of an invasion and resulting civil strife.  

Imagine a country in which your door might be kicked down in the dead of night by heavily-armed, foreign young men, in strange uniforms, helmets and imposing body armor, yelling things in a language you don’t understand.  Imagine them rifling through your drawers, upending your furniture, holding you at gunpoint, roughing up your husband or son or brother, and marching him off in the middle of the night.  Imagine, as well, a country in which those foreigners kill American “insurgents” and then routinely strip them naked; in which those occupying troops sometimes urinate on American bodies (and shoot videos of it); or take trophy photos of their “kills”; or mutilate them; or pose with the body parts of dead Americans; or from time to time — for reasons again beyond your comprehension — rape or murder your friends and neighbors. 

Imagine, for a moment, violence so extreme that you and literally millions like you have to flee your hometowns for squalid refugee camps or expanding slums ringing the nearest cities.  Imagine trading your home for a new one without heat or electricity, possibly made of refuse with a corrugated metal roof that roars when it rains.  Then imagine living there for months, if not years. 

Imagine things getting so bad that you decide to trek across the Mexican border to live an uncertain life, forever wondering if your new violence- and poverty-wracked host nation will turn you out or if you’ll ever be able to return to your home in the U.S.  Imagine living with these realities day after day for up to decade.       

—- from Nick Turse, “A War Victim’s Question Only You Can Answer” at TomDispatch

In 2004, Wal-Mart de Mexico built a supermarket within a mile of the pyramids of Teotihuacán, an important cultural landmark in Mexico.  How did they do it?  By paying a $52,000 bribe!  For the rest, check out an important and well-reported piece in yesterday’s New York Times: "How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico"

globalpost:

           Syrian Playstation Tank

Syria’s grim civil war continues to grind on, and rebel forces are continually forced to come up with new technology to counter the Assad regime.

One such innovation? An armored tank whose weapons are controlled by a Playstation game console, constructed largely from the chassis of a car and whatever else rebels could scare up at the time.

Check out the other wacky, weird and repurposed weapons from around the world, including a burrito bomber, an army of dolphins and bat bombs at GlobalPost.

fotojournalismus:

Red shoes, symbolising missing women, outside the state attorney’s office during a demonstration in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 10, 2012. Relatives of missing women protested in Ciudad Juarez for the lack of progress in the investigations.
[Credit : Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images]

fotojournalismus:

Red shoes, symbolising missing women, outside the state attorney’s office during a demonstration in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 10, 2012. Relatives of missing women protested in Ciudad Juarez for the lack of progress in the investigations.

[Credit : Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images]

atavist:

In Agent Zapata, Mary Cuddehe investigates the case of an American agent allegedly murdered by Mexico’s most feared cartel. 

atavist:

In Agent Zapata, Mary Cuddehe investigates the case of an American agent allegedly murdered by Mexico’s most feared cartel. 

pulitzerfieldnotes:

Last night at about midnight Dominic and I got in from the Seri town of Desemboque (or Haxöl), about two hours north of Kino. When we got there with our translator and guide, Elena Chavarria, we really had no idea what to expect. Well, okay, I had some notion. The Seri are reputed to be a fiercely independent indigenous community of 800 or so along the Sonoran coastline with a language unlike any other in the region (they call such languages “isolates”). In some ways, the Seri (or Comcaac) never really stopped resisting the conquest of the Spanish. They have been a fishing community in and around nearby Tiberon Island for thousands of years and are notoriously mistrusting of outsiders. They hold turtles to be sacred and have many secretive ceremonies and traditions. Lastly, I had heard reports of bands of armed Seri roaming the waters, forcibly removing poachers who infringed on their sacred tribal land.

What we found was a bit different than expected. Yes, the Seri are definitely a different culture. They mostly speak to each other in Cmiique, their native tongue, and speak to foreigners in a slow, careful Spanish. They call Mexicans blancos (whites) and constantly distinguish themselves from Mexicans (who pushed for their extermination for many years around the turn of the century). They were friendly enough but both of us realized quickly that we were not likely to build up much trust in two short days.

However, there may be more in Seri country that the average Mexican would find familiar than alien. For one thing, they are mostly Christian. Their kids wear American T-shirts, obsess about cell phones, and listen to corridos and 50 Cent. The town has enduring poverty issues and the same scourges of drug use and crime found in other Mexican communities (though we personally saw neither beyond a little pot smoking). They eat the same tortillas, drink the same Coca-Cola, and get the same diabetes. They have the same overwhelming frustration from corruption in their leaders both on land and in the water and like everyone else have a long history of depleting that resource to sell to foreign buyers – Japanese, Americans, and now Koreans.

That’s not to say they are just like any other village on the coast. We talked to many people who are involved in wildlife monitoring. Essentially, these are people being paid by outside conservation groups to count birds, turtles, or other species of interest to biologists. In some ways, this is just the newest way that outsiders are paying the Seri for their natural resources. But, notably, many of these people could make a lot more money fishing than walking up and down the beach, moving turtle eggs away from danger. One group, led by a fisherman named Alburto Estrella, took enormous care as well as detailed notes tracking the breeding habits of something they called the “Gulf turtle” (still looking that one up). These folks clearly were devoted to the survival of the species.

Naturally, we made many more interesting observations and Dominic took many more pictures. But I am afraid for the rest you will have to read our story in Harper’s Magazine when it comes out next year.

pulitzerfieldnotes:

In the course of reporting this story, I have been pleasantly surprised by countless little things. The tremendous knowledge of fishermen of their craft, the persistence of ecosystems here to continue in the face of constant fishing pressure, beef tacos just off the Malecon in La Paz.

However, the traditional Mexican fishing boat – known as the panga – is not one of them. In many ways the traditional boats of a fishing culture represent a part of its soul. For instance, in Thailand the longtail boat, with its comically long propeller, wooden hull, and brightly decorated bow will forever be linked in my mind with the Thai philosophy of sampok (please don’t ask me if I spelled this right) – the idea of taking joy in everything you do. The Mexican panga, as far as I can tell, is tied the Northern Mexico notion that they are the biggest hardmen who ever lived.

The panga looks simple enough – flat bottom, fiberglass hull, five benches separating compartments for fish. Not your standard image of a medieval torture device, but that’s only because so few people have survived one to tell the truth. The truth is that these are grisly devices of terror, designed to bring all but the hardened fisherman to his pasty white knees.

Yesterday was a perfect example. They are fine enough floating in calm water. But when the driver fires up the engine the pain begins. With every wave, the flat bottom of the panga slaps against the water like a cross between a belly flop and a shot to the kidney from Oscar de la Hoya. It’s sort of an unrelenting soft punch to the gut every four seconds.

All of this gives me the vague feeling I am somehow the butt of a vast fisherman joke. Of course, being the only gigantic white dude here, the last thing I want to do is complain, thus casting gigantic white dudes everywhere as total wussies. So I just quietly take it and try to make conversation like a normal person while my spleen jolts against my throat.

“Those – whumpf – brown pelicans – ungh – on the horizon – mughhh – remind me –hunghh – of a the last – oof, sonofa! – scene in – ugh – Jurassic Park – mmmmoof – right?Muh. Or am I – gah – crazy?”

At the end of this joyride of pain, the fishermen finish with one last indignity. Everyone braces against whatever is nearby and with a whoop, the driver rams the beach as hard as he can, the effect being that the entire boat is shoved straight up your nose and out the back of your head.

I am all for cross cultural experience and braving the wild seas. But next time I do this, I am going to bring along a Thai longtail and a better barf sack than my computer shoulder bag.

- Erik Vance

thepoliticalnotebook:

13 Mexican journalists have disappeared since 2003: here’s a map of their disappearances. These folks, as Atlantic Cities notes, were most likely killed, but unlike a number of their colleagues, their bodies have never been found. The map was made by Articulo 19. They also made an infographic of instance of attacks on the media with firearms and explosives.
[Atlantic Cities]

thepoliticalnotebook:

13 Mexican journalists have disappeared since 2003: here’s a map of their disappearances. These folks, as Atlantic Cities notes, were most likely killed, but unlike a number of their colleagues, their bodies have never been found. The map was made by Articulo 19. They also made an infographic of instance of attacks on the media with firearms and explosives.

[Atlantic Cities]