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Where the streets are unsafe

Business groups in Juarez call on the UN to stop drug-related violence. An American Air Force sergeant is among the 2,000 dead. A wanted Mexican kingpin makes Forbes' "most powerful" list. President Calderon does not. Mexico City's Megabus wins Harvard environmental award. And with increased taxes and less contraction, it looks like Mexico's economy is on the mend.

Top News: Business groups in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez drew world attention to their turmoil on Nov. 11 when they called on United Nations troops to police their bloody streets. The plea by the Juarez Chamber of Commerce came after 2,000 people were killed this year in a city of 1.5 million. The groups complained the 5,000 troops the government sent to stop the drug-related violence have failed to make the streets safe.


 Meanwhile, fresh bodies continued to pile up. Among the latest victims was an American Air Force sergeant who was shot dead with five other men in a Juarez strip club. Sgt. David Booher, 26, had been based at the Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico. The U.S. military prohibits its personnel from visiting Juarez because of the violence, but Booher had apparently defied the order.


One problem in quelling the violence is that Mexico’s law enforcement agencies are fighting among themselves. In the last year, Mexican police and soldiers have had 65 stand offs,  a new report revealed. Corrupt police are also accused murdering military personnel while other officers have been accused of killing their own commanders.


Drug bosses wield so much power over the police that one of them was recognized by Forbes. Number 41 on the magazine's list of the 67 most powerful people in the world was wanted Mexican trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The only other Mexican on the list was telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, the third richest man in the world.  Mexican President Felipe Calderon was notably absent. 


Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the self-proclaimed "legitimate head of state," who lost the 2006 election by a whisker and accused Calderon of stealing his job through fraud,  has managed to keep a so-called “legitimate cabinet” going since. He  will soon be the first politician — and perhaps first person — to have toured every one of Mexico’s 2,438 municipalities. As mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, Obrador built a tram-style “Metrobus” to replace the hectic micro-buses. This month the Metrobus won a prestigious Harvard University environment award. The Harvard team said the rapid transit system, which carries 450,000 passengers a day, has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 60,000 to 80,000 tons a year.


Money: Companies were optimistic that Mexico will avoid a downgrade of its credit rating after the government approved tax increases to balance its budget. Executives from Mexico’s six largest firms said the extra 1 percent of VAT and 2 percent of income tax will allow Mexico to keep its BBB+ credit rating. The new taxes will be introduced in January 2010.


Mexico’s shrinking economy seems to be shrinking a little more slowly, the latest sign the country may finally be on the rebound from recession. Industrial output in September was down 5.7 percent compared to the same month in 2008, the lowest level of shrinkage reported this year.


In another sign of recovery, store sales increased 3 percent in October, compared with the same month a year ago, according to leading retail association Antad, which represents more than 17,000 stores across the country.