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“Green light to invade Arizona”

Mexicans express – in speech, protest and song — their outrage at Arizona’s new immigration law. Gunmen attack a human rights caravan in Oaxaca. Mexico’s most prominent Catholic cleric is sued in California. Plus, an ugly fungus that’s tasty and nutritious.

 Top News: Mexico may be divided by a relentless drug war and harsh recession, but there is one thing that brings the nation back together: gringo repression. After Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed the SB1070 law on April 23 instructing local police to demand papers of anyone “suspected” of being an illegal immigrant, roars could be heard from Nogales to Mexico City. President Felipe Calderon said the law would lead to harassment of Mexicans and their descendents, as well as creating "intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse."

Priests, students, senators and trade unions all joined with the president making angry comments, and business leaders called for a boycott of Arizona’s goods, tourism to the state and its sport teams. The Mexican government even put out a travel advisory, warning Mexicans that if they went to Arizona they should expect harassment – a jibe at the many American travel advisories warning of violence in Mexico. Puerto Rican singer Rene Perez also waded in, performing in Mexico City with the words “Green Light to Invade Arizona” scrawled on his back.

But as Mexico was howling about the treatment of migrants in El Norte, Amnesty International released a report about bad treatment of migrants south of the Rio Grande. The report said that the abuse of migrants, mainly Central Americans traveling through Mexico, was a major human rights crisis. Citing complaints filed with human rights groups, the report said that the Central American migrants are kidnapped for ransom, raped and beaten in the thousands. 

Gunmen ambushed a human rights caravan in the southern state of Oaxaca on April 27, killing one Finnish and one Mexican activist. Two days after the attack, various other activists were still missing, including a Belgian, an Italian, another Finn and three Mexicans. The attack took place near the remote Triqui Indian village of San Juan Copala where there has been a historic dispute between two armed political groups. There were about 30 people in the caravan, including the human rights activists and some journalists.

The abuse scandals of Roman Catholic Priests that have been shaking the church, continued to rattle Mexico. On April 20, a man filed a civil suit in a California court against Mexico’s most prominent cleric, Cardinal Norberto Rivera. The suit contends that Rivera protected a priest who raped young boys, shuttling him about from Mexico to the United States. Rivera argues that the California court has no jurisdiction over him.

Mexico’s relentless drug war continued to rage through April with hundreds of more murders adding to the almost 23,000 killed in drug-related bloodshed since Calderon took office in December 2006. Among the most brutal new incidents, were the killing of seven police and a bystander at a busy intersection in Ciudad Juarez on April 19, the murder of 20 people in one day in Juarez on April 28, and the attack on the top security official in the Western state of Michoacan, injuring her and killing four others. Reports also emphasized a violent internal war in one drug cartel that stretched from the spa town of Cuernavaca, to the Pacific resort of Acapulco. 

Money: Mexico continued to show signs of recovery with the economy bouncing back 4 percent in the first quarter, according to the Central Bank’s chief economist on April 27. The official figure will be released on April 30. The hike follows a drop of 6.8 percent in 2009, the biggest slump since the 1930s, so perhaps the only way is up. But it was still met by optimism, with the Central Bank governor predicting growth of 4 to 5 percent in 2010 as a whole.

Money sent home from the U.S. by Mexican migrants continued to fall, with a drop of 12 percent in the first quarter, compared to one year earlier. After reaching a peak of $25 billion in 2007, remittances have fallen steadily, due to slowdown in the U.S. economy and tougher immigration enforcement. In total, $4.8 billion were sent south from January to March this year, compared to $5.5 billion in the same months 2009.

Elsewhere: It may be a gnarly gray corn fungus that U.S. farmers have spent millions trying to eradicate, but it turns out the Mexicans who ate it had the right idea. A new study found that huitlacoche (WEET-LA-KO-CHEE), a fungus savored in certain Mexican villages has unique proteins, minerals and other nutritional goodies. It also tastes pretty damn good as well. The food can be found in Mexico City’s canal zone Xochimilco among other places.