Tip of the iceberg: Researchers confirm finding 1,600 secret graves in Mexico since 2006

The Japan Times

MEXICO CITY - Mexican researchers said Thursday they have confirmed the existence of 1,606 secret graves containing 2,489 bodies from 2006 to 2017, but that may just scratch the surface of the true numbers behind what the study called a "building phenomenon." "Those are not all the graves. The study found that Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Veracruz, Sinaloa and Zacatecas were the states with the most reported cases of secret graves, all places with a strong presence of organized crime groups. University investigators worked alongside local human rights' groups to conduct the study that they say shows the "deterioration of security" in Mexico. They criticized the country's Attorney General's Office and said the government gave inconsistent statistics on secret graves and bodies recovered. "The Attorney General's Office is actively violating the rights of information and of memory," said Carlos Dorantes of the human rights organization Article 19, which participated in the study. Karla Quintana, the government's national search commissioner, said the new administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador inherited a "forensic emergency" when he took office Dec. 1. She added the government is working on a digital database of disappeared persons, and said the president will meet Monday with families to update them on his administration's work to find and identify their missing relatives. "We need to have this information to give answers to family members waiting on their loved ones," Quintana said. She also highlighted a lack of resources, saying the commission has a "one-person team" in its archives department and is short on personnel to carry out the exhumations. Leticia Hidalgo, whose son disappeared in Nuevo Leon in 2011, asked Quintana to locate those like her son. "We don't have any more time.

Mexicans March Against President's Proposal To Allow Gay Marriage

International Business Times

Tens of thousands of people across Mexico marched on Saturday to protest against gay marriage, challenging President Enrique Pena Nieto's proposal to recognize same-sex marriage throughout the traditionally conservative country. The marches were called by the National Front for the Family, a coalition of civil society organizations and various religious groups, and continued throughout the day from Mexico's far north to the Yucatan peninsula. Same sex marriage is permitted in Mexico City, as well as in several states including Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Sonora. Pena Nieto has proposed changing the constitution to allow it nationally. The embattled leader, who is grappling with discontent over a slowing economy, conflict of interest scandals, drug gang violence and a visit by U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump that led to his finance minister's ouster, has opened himself to criticism by asking lawmakers to debate gay marriage.

Mexico's President Proposes Allowing Same-Sex Marriage Nationally

International Business Times

Mexico's president on Tuesday proposed allowing same-sex marriage nationally, the latest in a series of progressive policies in a traditionally conservative country. The presidency said on Twitter that President Enrique Peña Nieto had "announced the signing of a reform initiative which includes the recognition of the right to get married without any form of discrimination." Same-sex marriage is currently permitted in Mexico City, as well as in several states, including Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Sonora. Mexico's Supreme Court said last year that laws restricting marriage to a man and woman were unconstitutional and a Supreme Court judge urged states to legalize gay marriage. However, many state legislatures have not changed their statutes to comply, meaning couples must file legal challenges case by case to get married.

Only 22 vaquita porpoises at most remain off Mexico, experts say

The Japan Times

MEXICO CITY - Experts said Wednesday that at most only 22 vaquitas remain in the Gulf of California, where a grim, increasingly violent battle is playing out between emboldened fishermen and the last line of defense for the smallest and most endangered porpoise in the world. Jorge Urban, a biology professor at the Baja California Sur University, said the 22 vaquitas were heard over a network of acoustic monitors at the end of summer. That was in fact higher than many had expected; some had estimated as little as 15 would remain in the Gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez, the only place in the world where the vaquita marina is found. It may be a sign the vaquita is holding on, and what is keeping it alive is a thin line of defenders: Every night 22 volunteer crew members from ships operated by the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd go out to search the upper Gulf for hidden gill nets that catch prized -- but protected -- totoaba fish and drown vaquitas. It is increasingly dangerous work.

March against gas price hike turns violent in Mexico

FOX News

MEXICO CITY – A protest against Mexico's 20-percent gasoline price hike turned violent Saturday after a lone protester drove his truck into a line of police guarding a fuel distribution terminal in Baja California. Federal police said seven officers were injured in the incident in Rosarito, near the border city of Tijuana. Video showed the small pickup driving straight into the line of riot police, then backing up and speeding off. Largely peaceful protests against the fuel price increases continued elsewhere in Mexico Saturday, and looting seen earlier in the week largely subsided. Officials in Veracruz, one of the states hardest-hit by the looting on Wednesday and Thursday, said some neighborhood groups had begun to form patrols of residents armed with staves or machetes to ward off looters.