Archive for Mexico

The Capacity for Evil

Is vast, wide, seemingly boundless.

Worth remembering:

It has been more than four months since 43 students from a rural teaching school in Ayotzinapa, in Mexico’s south-western state of Guerrero disappeared.

They were last seen alive during a protest in the town of Iguala.

Police fired on them and rounded them up, eventually handing them over to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who are widely thought to have killed them.

But the students’ families refuse to believe they are dead. They say they want more answers and will not give up looking for them.

We’re so sorry. Those kids didn’t have that coming to them; no one does. And yet it happened. It also happened to the Chibok girls in Nigeria, and to thousands of men, women, and children in Syria and Iraq. It’s also happened to countless anonymous victims across Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe—all in the last 25 years.

Victims of cruelty are counted in the tens of millions. We must acknowledge that, but not be numbed by it. Which is why we tell individual stories:

Last week Lourdes Caballero Sanchez took to the streets of the capital with thousands of other Mexicans to call for justice.

It was a personal journey for her. Lourdes’s 21-year-old brother Israel is one of the missing.

Her belief that she will find him is unwavering.

“I have an intuition that he’s still alive. That’s why we are here, asking [President] Pena Nieto to give us back our boys,” she told me.

“As a sister, I’m desperate. I miss him, I want to see him. I feel so powerless to not be able to do anything for him.”

But less than 24 hours later, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam delivered a blow.

He declared that the students were dead.

His team, he said, had interviewed 99 people including members of the criminal gang that he alleges murdered the students.

Based on 386 declarations from interviewees, 16 police raids and two reconstructions, the conclusion was that the students were killed by the gang and their bodies burned at a rubbish dump.

The students’ families angrily rejected this scenario.

Of course they did. To accept it is to kill their loved ones all over again.

What is my point in writing about horrific cruelty, genocide on an unimaginable scale? It’s not like I think it can be “fixed”—short of overwhelming military intervention, meaning American, and how often can we expect that? No sappy paean to peace, no hunger strike, no tweeted selfie, no outraged blog post will bring back a Chibok girl or a Ayotzinapa boy. Once things have gotten as bad as they have in Mexico, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan (if they were ever any better in those hell-holes), evil will have its way. My thoughts and prayers are for those dwindling countries—America and Israel most notably—who are trying to keep the barbarians on the far side of the gate. They’re like cockroaches: once they’re they’re in—see Obama’s amnesty plans and Israel’s nasty neighbors to the north, south, and east—they’re hell to get rid of.

And Hell to live with.

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Getting High

I’ve repeatedly (and repeatedly) teased President Obama for portraying as lawless a state as Mexico as Switzerland with jalapeños.

But I have to give him—and Mexico—credit for this:

A drone carrying more than six pounds (2.7kg) of methamphetamine has crashed near Mexico’s border with the US.

Mexican police in Tijuana say they were alerted to an unidentified object in a car park of a shopping centre.

“The drone had packages taped to it and was covered with plastic bags containing the drug known as crystal”, the local police chief said.

Authorities are investigating where the flight originated, who controlled it and where it was bound for.

Whoever it was is the honorable descendant of Octavio Paz, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera, among other illustrious Mexicans.

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Diego Rivera Could Not Be Reached for Comment

About a year and a half ago, President Obama went to Mexico and blasted the US media for printing unflattering “sensational headlines” about such an advanced and civilized country (hence my tiresome series on the pervasive and persistent violence in Mexican society, “Sensational Headline Watch”).

I guess whatever he was smoking then, the Mexican president did not see fit to bring to the White House yesterday:

While critics protested outside the White House, President Barack Obama pledged to help Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto “eliminate the scourge and violence of drug cartels” like that suspected in the disappearance of 43 Mexican students.

Peña Nieto made his first visit to Washington Tuesday, accompanied by several Cabinet members, to tout his economic reforms such as the opening of the its oil and gas industry to private investment.

But his legislative feats have been overshadowed by the violence against 43 students, some whose bodies were said to have been later incinerated, and criticism of how his administration has handled the investigation of the students’ disappearance.

Mexican federal agents have arrested dozens of people, including the mayor of Iguala, Mexico, his wife and police. Detainees confessed they murdered the 43 kidnapped students and burned their bodies. But, the victims’ families have demanded more evidence, and that the students be found.

Yeah, they’ll find ‘em right after they bring back the Chibok girls. Don’t you worry about that.

Want to see a scourge or two?

New recruits to a vicious Mexican drug cartel were forced to eat the hearts of murder victims in a twisted scheme to prove their loyalty, officials said.

Hopefuls who wanted to join La Familia Michoacana were reportedly fed the internal organs during gruesome initiation ceremonies designed to roof out infiltrators or other disloyal elements.

Witnesses told government security bosses how La Familia, and offshoot an offshoot group called the Knights Templar, would also sometimes force potential cartel members to dismember victims while they were still alive.

Whoa. What would Octavio Paz say about that?

I’ll tell you what Frida Kahlo would say: string ‘em up.

An accused thief was beaten to death by a mob in central Mexico after the furious crowd caught him and three accomplices, including a pregnant woman and a teenager, robbing a home.

A crowd of some 100 people discovered the four allegedly robbing electronics at a home in the town of Tehuacan, in the state of Puebla.

The residents seized the four — two men, a male teenager one woman said to be pregnant — and stripped them.

The woman, who said she was pregnant, was ‘struck in the face’ while the teenager was tied by his hands and feet and beat up, local reports say.

He suffered wounds to his abdomen, legs, back and head.

‘We warned them of what would happen if they returned to rob from us,’ local neighbors, who said they were tired of thieves after a recent string of robberies, told local newspaper Excelsior.

Naturally, I deplore this behavior. It will only drive the robbers to jump the border and come here, where we reward them with driver’s licenses. I don’t care how badly run most DMVs and RMVs are: they beat a lynching.

Some of them.

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Nice Oil Field You Got Here, Señor

Shame if something happened to it:

As Mexico opens its energy sector to private investors after 76 years of government monopoly, one of the biggest hurdles for foreign companies coming here isn’t geology, regulation or finding skilled workers. It’s the vicious drug cartels that virtually control the parts of northern Mexico where experts say there are big deposits of shale oil and gas.

“I’m afraid oil companies coming to Mexico will have to worry about insecurity as much as about drilling,” said Carlos Elizondo, an energy expert recently appointed to the board of former state monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

Chris Faulkner, the founder of Dallas-based Breitling Energy , which produces shale gas in South Texas and elsewhere, adds that “there are a lot of challenges with companies coming to Mexico because of security concerns.”

Geokinetics workers say they have come across human remains while doing exploratory work in the brush near the company’s base camp. Last year, two company engineers were kidnapped before being rescued by federal police and Mexican marines.

In 2012, an entire eight-man crew from a private Mexican oil-service firm went missing while working on well heads down river from Nuevo Laredo, according to media reports at the time. Neither the company nor Mexico’s government ever commented on the disappearance.

A young female engineer working for another service company in the Chicontepec oil basin in the coastal state of Veracruz was raped several months ago by a gang, according to two service contractors with direct knowledge of the incident who asked not to be named.

And, in the six years between January 2008 and March 2014, 12 Pemex workers were kidnapped, according to a document from the attorney general’s office obtained through Mexico’s transparency institute.

That doesn’t quite fit President Obama’s portrayal of Mexico as the Athenian Republic, with serapes in place of togas. Why would you police a border against such people?

Since late 2006, some 100,000 Mexicans have been killed in drug-related homicides and an additional 22,000 have gone missing. While drug-related homicides appear to have declined in the past two years, other crimes such as extortion and kidnapping have risen.

That’s almost the population of Hartford, CT murdered or missing in eight years. Not my cup of tequila.

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The Silence of the Lambs Lettuce

Nice Greek salad!

You heartless bastard:

Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep spoke to reporter Richard Marosi about his 18-month investigation in Mexico. Wednesday’s story in the series follows Ricardo Martinez, a farmworker who tried, unsuccessfully, to leave a labor camp.

According to Marosi, the farmworkers are “the invisible people of Mexico, the poorest, the most discriminated.” That’s what makes them so vulnerable to abuse in farm labor camps.

The camps are in remote regions of west and northwest Mexico, and attached to the megafarms that produce millions of pounds of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables, much of them bound for the U.S.

“They live in rooms six-by-eight generally, and shed-like housing, sometimes no furniture. They sleep on scraps of cardboard,” Marosi says.

The workers are forced to buy food from the company stores where the prices are heavily inflated. Even making $8 to $12 dollars a day, which is more than they might make at home, they can’t keep up with the high costs.

“A lot of these places, they illegally withhold the wages of the workers; they’re there on three-month contracts, they’re not paid until the end,” he says. That means they don’t even have the money to catch a bus and escape the farm.

And America is supposed to live in eternal shame over slavery? These serfs are imprisoned in the full light of day in the 21st Century.

And whom do we blame?

Marosi says a lot of the blame lies with firms who project an image of social responsibility or tote their many badges of certifications from labor groups. In reality, they are not actually enforcing their standards.

Mexico doesn’t have a government to enforce the law? Did anyone tell President Obama? What would Octavio Paz and Frida Kahlo say about this human rights catastrophe?

Me, I blame the people whose insatiable demand creates this appalling situation: vegetarians. They may think that cucumber salad with tomato wedges in private is harmless. Yet how many more must suffer for their selfish needs?

I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger, my good man, and very much hold the pickle and the lettuce.

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Sensational Headline Watch

I get it that the rest of you don’t share my fascination with the scandalous events down Mexico way. I didn’t care either until Obama tried to describe that dangerously lawless land as some sort of sun-soaked Swiss canton, and dismissed media reports of cartel killings and corruption as “sensational headlines”.

I said dangerous and I mean dangerous. Not just Mexico, but Obama too.

Can you believe this [bleep]?

What do the September disappearance of 43 university students from the custody of local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and new allegations of federal corruption in the awarding of public infrastructure contracts have in common? Answer: They both show that Mexico still has a huge problem enforcing the rule of law.

Until now the president has been able to ignore Mexico’s legendary lawlessness. He has been riding an international wave of excitement around the opening of the energy sector, with few questions asked. But unless he wants to make common cause with the hard left—which thinks it has him on the ropes because of the missing students—he needs to admit his mistakes, purge his cabinet and make the rule of law job No. 1.

The rule of law? In Mexico? It would be easier to wrap my head around string theory than to comprehend such a reality.

To show that Mexico is committed to ending impunity and to improving public security, the president should use his influence to push for the full implementation of the new criminal code mandating that all federal and state judicial systems move, by 2016, to the oral accusatorial system, away from Mexico’s traditional written, inquisitional system.

Monterrey lawyer Ernesto Canales founded the civic group Renace (Spanish for “rebirth”) in 1994 to work for this reform in his home state of Nuevo León. In an interview in New York in the spring he told me that the change will “mean an increase in substance over formality in public trials and an increase in transparency. It will also raise the odds that judges actually know what’s going on in their courtrooms.”

Sounds important. Yet congressional approval of the federal regulations necessary to complete the reform is moving at a glacial pace, and the judiciary is in no hurry to comply. Many of the 32 states have yet to make the transition.

Everyone knows why: The oral system will challenge the traditional use of the criminal-justice system as a profit center for the state. In that tradition the accused can either pay or do time. Culpability is beside the point, and there is no need for competitive police salaries, forensics or transparent protocols to ensure accountability and communication among municipal, state and federal authorities.

Simply put, everything in Mexican justice (again with the incomprehensible concepts!) is available for purchase, from a speeding ticket to charges of multi-billion dollar international drug smuggling.

And all Obama saw fit to mention was Frida Kahlo and Octavio Paz.

Mexico may be dangerous, but is anything more dangerous than a “raging narcissist” (HT Pat Caddell) who believes anything he says, simply because he’s the one saying it?

Understand me: it’s not about Mexico; it’s about Obama. And it’s bad news.

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Where’s Their Hashtag?

#bringbackourburnedanddecomposedstudents

The 43 Mexican students who disappeared in southern Mexico in September were abducted by police on order of a local mayor, and are believed to have been turned over to a gang that killed them and burned their bodies before throwing some remains in a river, the nation’s attorney general said Friday.

That’s quite a mouthful right there.

This is the conclusion that investigators have reached, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said, though he cautioned that it cannot be known with certainty until DNA tests confirm the identities.

This will be a challenge, he said, as the badly burned fragments make it difficult to extract DNA.

“I have to identify, to do everything in my power, to identify, to know if these were the students,” Murillo said.

You may wonder why there would be any doubt. Is Mexico so riddled with dead bodies that they can’t tell their atrocities apart?

Yes. It is:

The initial shock of the police rampage that day had barely set in when the attorney general for the state of Guerrero, Iñaky Blanco Cabrera, announced that over the weekend investigators had exhumed the contents of six mass graves discovered on a densely wooded parcel of land outside of Iguala. The assumption was that the abducted students might be among the cadavers. The initial body count was estimated at 28, but subsequent reports raised the estimate to 34.

Now the Mexican Federal Government has taken note. A cordon of about 200 Mexican Army soldiers, Marines and Federal Police stood guard as the bodies were exhumed from a hilly stretch of nearly inaccessible woodland known as Pueblo Viejo. The bodies had been piled onto dry branches and logs, doused in gasoline, and set afire. DNA testing is underway to identity the cadavers, which at the time of discovery were burned beyond recognition. But four members of a drug cartel known as Guerreros Unidos that operates in Iguala, who are currently in police custody, told investigators that they knew of 17 student activists transported to the killing ground of Pueblo Viejo.

This may have been the fate of some of the students. The rest sleep with the fishes:

The suspects told police they don’t remember exactly how many people they killed, but they were told by their leaders that there were more than 40, Murillo said.

The abducted men were then burned at the dump in a fire that was kept alive for at least 14 hours by adding diesel fuel, tires and debris, the attorney general said.

The next day, the gang members were ordered to further break up the remains and place them in black garbage bags that were tossed into the San Juan River, Murillo said.

Scuba divers searched the river and found pieces of the bags and remains. One bag was found intact, with human remains inside, the attorney general said.

Really, BTL, is this necessary? Must we know the gruesome and ghastly details of a drug cartel mass murder?

Well, I think you do. Otherwise, you’d believe this:

It is wonderful to be back in México — lindo y querido. (Applause.)

And it’s an honor to be back in Mexico City — one of the world’s great cities. Es un placer estar entre amigos. (Applause.)

In modern times, Mexico’s blend of cultures and traditions found its expression in the murals of Rivera and the paintings of Frida, and the poetry of Sor Juana and the essays of Octavio Paz. [And the charred cadavers of students? ed]

Some Americans only see the Mexico that is depicted in sensational headlines of violence and border crossings.

Thus was born my lengthy series of posts under the title Sensation Headline Watch. Some of you may remember them.

My point then and now wasn’t to wallow in the lurid, blood-spattered, fly-swarmed mess that is Mexico in “modern times”. Anyone can see that. My point was—and is—to warn that Obama is so dishonest, so deceiving (not least self deceiving), that he would try to portray the corpse flower that is today’s Mexico as a rose in June. He might even believe it, as he might even believe anything he says (“without a Negro dialect unless he wants to have one” ©Harry Reid).

Mexico may be fighting back against the drug cartels that so brutally rule so much of its territory. It may be punishing the corruption that runs through every level of its government. It may mean well.

But it is still, well, mean. Millions of Mexicans may long for peace and prosperity, may yearn to have the time (and literacy) to read the essays of Octavio Paz. But as long as the government and organized crime are two sides of the same peso, Mexico is a hot zone—one to be avoided and quarantined as Sierra Leone, which it so closely resembles.

PS: That Mexico is not quarantined is made obvious by the reports of cartel activity across the United States.

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Inside Eric Holder’s Mind

Here, put on this level-4 hazmat suit. Wouldn’t want to get any of this on you:

The email chain begins with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod explaining that Issa’s planned to subpoena a witness to testify on the scandal.

“This keeps escalating,” Gary Grindler, a DOJ official at the time, wrote.

Holder then issued his response:

Ok. We have to be careful. His decision has to truly be his. If he testifies so be it.

Issa and his idiot cronies never gave a damn about this when all that was happening was that thousands of Mexicans were being killed with guns from our country. All they want to do- in reality- is cripple ATF and suck up to the gun lobby. Politics at its worst- maybe the media will get it.

This was part of the Encyclopedia Britannica document dump on Election Day. As Issa tweeted, the dump was eight times the total number of documents released in the three-plus years Issa has been investigating. Holder’s on his way out now, so what does he care?

To me, the most offensive words were “we have to be careful”. Mexicans were being killed by guns he ran, as well as one American, border agent, Brian Terry. And Holder’s reaction was to “be careful”. As in cover up.

Immature, I admit, but I want to do a document dump all over him, minus the documents.

PS: “Cripple the ATF”? The Fast and Furious investigation was instigated by ATF whistleblowers. Who ere punished for their truth-telling.

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Well, Furious Anyway

You never forget your first “smidgen of corruption”:

In light of a federal judge denying a request from the Department of Justice to delay the release of a long-sought after Fast and Furious document list, the sister of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Kelly Terry-Willis, doesn’t find the timing of Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation to be a coincidence.

“I do not find it a coincidence that Eric Holder chose now to resign after Judge Bates denied the request from the DOJ to delay the release of the Fast and Furious documents. I personally think Eric Holder was really hoping that the documents would never be made public to my family and the American people,” Terry-Willis tells Townhall. “Will we ever get the accountability for my brother, Brian, Jaime Zapata and every other person who lost their lives to the guns from this horrific scandal? I don’t know, but I have a serious gut feeling when we finally see what is in those documents….the dynamics of this investigation are going to change and hopefully the people involved are brought to justice. Eric Holder can run, but there will be no hiding. The truth always reveals itself.”

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed on December 14, 2010 by illegal Mexican nationals working for cartels in Arizona’s Peck Canyon. The weapons left at Terry’s murder scene were part of Operation Fast and Furious, a Department of Justice program that involved ATF agents knowingly allowing and facilitating the illegal trafficking of 2500 weapons from the United States into Mexico for use by narco-terrorists. Hundreds of people in Mexico have been killed as a result of the program. In June 2012, Attorney General Holder was held in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate and produce documents sought in the congressional investigation of the fatal operation. Thousands of documents related to the investigation have still not be released.

I saw elsewhere that Holder is resigning after a health scare. In February. The F&F theory fits a lot better. But that may just be my wish-fulfillment talking.

F&F may have seemed a little far-fetched in the early days of this regime, but now it sounds like standard operating procedure.

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Life, Liberty, and Fence-Jumping

Obama invents a new “right”:

“Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights, and worker’s rights, and civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights and immigration rights,” Obama told union supporters gathered Sept. 1 in Milwaukee, Wisc.

What does that even mean?

That “immigration rights” phrase “implies that some people have the right to move here,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center of Immigration Studies.

Krikorian’s response was echoed — in a progressive format — by David Leopold, an immigration lawyer and the former general counsel of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Obama’s “’Immigration rights’ [phrase] carries with it political, social and cultural significance while [the familiar term] ‘immigrants’ rights’ is a more direct reference to redress of rights through the courts,” said Leopold.

“Obama’s statement is significant because if he truly views “immigration rights” with the same reverence as he does ‘civil rights’ he can neither politically nor morally justify further delay in the use of his lawful authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress acts,” he said.

Keep your pants on, shyster. The only thing Obama views with “reverence” is a mirror. It was a throwaway line, another piece of low-hanging fruit (and no, that’s not swipe at gay rights). He may well grant amnesty to millions and take out all border fences with drone strikes, but he won’t do it out of “reverence”.

If Obama is the most cynical operative in the illegal immigration mess, these folks run a close second:

EL PASO — With recent waves of Central Americans seeking to reach the U.S., human smuggling along the Texas border has, at least for the moment, become more lucrative than smuggling illicit drugs for criminal organizations such as the Gulf and Zetas cartels, according to two U.S. intelligence officials.

U.S. agents tracking the money flow as part of the anti-smuggling Operation Coyote say that in just over six months, human smuggling has generated nearly $50 million, mostly in the area around the Mexican border city of Reynosa. The revenue has helped sustain the Gulf cartel during a bloody internal split, the officials said. Some factions of the Gulf cartel are now working with the Sinaloa cartel, they said, and another faction has joined forces with the Zetas, increasing violence and making the situation along the border more perilous.

“I’m not suggesting that the cartels have abandoned their drug-smuggling activities,” said Oscar Hagelsieb, assistant special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso. “But with all the money to be made in human smuggling, they clamped their claws into it as well. Big time.”

Imagine that, someone so low, so depraved, to pray upon the most vulnerable, to trade their misery for material gain. And the cartels ain’t much better.

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Fast & Furious & Fuc*ed

Move over, Benghazi. Step aside, Lois Lerner. Take a seat, HeathCare.gov.

We have a new scandal in town.

Actually, an old scandal:

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with documents related to the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal, opening a new front in a controversy that has dogged President Obama’s administration since 2010.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave the department until Oct. 1 to hand the documents over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been probing the issue for almost four years, according to the Associated Press.

The administration has previously declined to turn over the documents, and the president has invoked executive privilege to keep them confidential. The standoff even led the Republican-led House to vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012.

Lawmakers on the House Oversight panel said the new documents could shed some light on why it took the Justice Department nearly a year to acknowledge that federal agents took part in gunwalking.

Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the documents requested “will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of border patrol agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”

The part I cut out was CBS News reminding readers what Fast & Furious actually was. I didn’t think our readers had forgotten, but CBS’s low-information readers need to be reminded that the Most Transparent™, Scandal-Free© Administration Evah (Pat. Pend.) is dirty right up to its eyeballs. Eric Holder needs to spend less time prejudging in Ferguson, MO, and more time photocopying documents in DC.

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Is Mexico Moving Here?

Or are we moving to Mexico?

Mexican authorities are still unraveling the horrors allegedly committed on nearly 500 children sheltered at “La Gran Familia” refuge in the southwestern state of Michoacan.

At The Big Family shelter, scores of children — some as young as two months old — were denied visits from their parents, virtually imprisoned in vermin-infested quarters and routinely subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse, authorities said.

Authorities raided the sprawling, squalid shelter in the city of Zamora Tuesday after a number of parents complained about being denied access to their children, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karan told reporters.

“We found close to 500 children in truly deplorable conditions,” Murillo said.

Victims told investigators that children were routinely forced to beg for money on the streets, eat unsanitary food and sleep on hard floors crawling with rats and roaches, Murillo said. It was not clear from Mexican authorities how so many children — along with some adults — came to be at the shelter.

“This is truly upsetting,” Michoacan governor Salvador Jara Guerrero told reporters. “We did not expect to find such conditions… We must not allow these things to occur — not in Michoacan, not in the republic.”

That’s right. Leave that nonsense to Arizona and Texas.

But then, this is just another day down Mexico way:

How a Mexican Cartel Demolished a Town, Incinerated Hundreds of Victims, and Got Away With It

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