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A leading conservative politician goes missing. Calderon lashes out at the U.S. over drug violence. A “Survivor” producer sneaks into the US after his wife is found dead in Cancun. Mexico plans to restrict dollar deposits. And a bank robber escapes by bike.
Top News: The last sign of leading Mexican politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was his bloodstained truck found near his country ranch. The suspected kidnapping has shaken Mexico’s political and business class, reminding them that even the rich and powerful are not immune from the crime wave plaguing this nation. The 69-year old Fernandez was a presidential candidate in 1994 and remains one of the most influential conservatives in the country.
Speculation about the abduction has shot through the roof. Is it the work drug gangs? Guerrillas? His own family? Ten days later the only new clue has been a photo of a bearded man with a bandage over his eyes on the Internet. But it is not sure if it is “Don Diego,” or if the man in the photo is even alive. However, family members have asked for the police to back off so they can negotiate his return — implying it is a classic kidnap for ransom.
Fernandez is not the only Mexican politician who has been attacked. On May 13, in Valle Hermoso, a town 25 miles south of the Rio Grande at Brownsville, gunmen killed a mayoral candidate along with his son in his farm supplies store. A week earlier, thugs torched the house of a mayoral candidate down the road in Nuevo Laredo.
President Felipe Calderon unleashed his anger at the latest bloodshed — on the United States. In his first official state visit to Washington, he addressed a joint session of Congress on May 20, and admonished it for the continued sales of U.S.-sold guns in Mexico. He also lashed out against the Arizona law that toughens up on undocumented workers.
His statements went down well in Mexico where his stand against the American goliath was described as his finest hour. But north of the river, some irate commentators said he should butt out of the United States’ business. President Obama himself said he shared Calderon’s views but couldn’t act against the gun law, and then ordered 1,200 extra troops to the Arizona border.
One man managed to sneak into the United States without a passport though — former "Survivor" producer Bruce Beresford-Redman. The T.V. star had been holidaying in Cancun when his wife Monica Beresford-Redman was found dead in a suspected murder. Mexican authorities had ordered Bruce Beresford-Redman to stay in Mexico for questioning, and had taken his passport. But on May 24, he was seen walking into his upscale California home. It is not clear how he made the trip without his travel document.
Plenty of others are making it into Arizona without passports. New data from the U.S. border patrol found that arrests of migrants trying to sneak over the Arizona-Mexico border were up 6 percent from October to April, with the undocumented job seekers apparently finding new paths through the treacherous desert. Along the entire border, arrest of migrants were actually down 9 percent in the same period.
Money: Mexico plans to crack down on drug money laundering by limiting cash dollar deposits, the finance minister announced on May 25. Ernesto Cordero said the amount will be high and not affect most legitimate businesses, although he did not say exactly how much. The U.S. Justice Department estimates $17.2 billion of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. annually.
Restricted cash flow is not expected to help the stuttering job market. Data released on May 25 showed that unemployment rose in Mexico in April, from March and from a year earlier, as the increase in jobs is still insufficient to keep pace with the expanding workforce. With a growing population, Mexico’s labor force increased by 900,000 compared to the same time a year ago, totaling 46.1 million.
However, troubles in Europe could help bring money into Mexico – according to the son of the world’s richest man. Marco Antonio Slim, son of billionaire telecoms magnate Carlos Slim and chief executive officer of Grupo Financiero Inbursa said financial stability in Latin America makes the region the most attractive investment opportunity as the European crisis shakes markets. “In contrast to the rest of the world, we have conditions that allow us to be optimists,” he said…perhaps rather optimistically.
Elsewhere: A thief robbed a bank on the border city of Nuevo Laredo, and then escaped on a bicycle. The bank teller said the robber told her he was armed and demanded she put the money into a red backpack. Once he had a grand old $170 in loot he pedaled away on his get-away vehicle, and then dumped it five blocks away.
At least, he left straight away. The Mexican national soccer team was held up for three hours in Germany — when a bird hit the plane windscreen. Reportedly the winged animal did no damage to the aircraft, but regulations stipulated that it had to be thoroughly checked before flying to England. The Mexican team lost that night’s friendly match 3-1 to the English team.