The War on Elephants

Alastair Leithead, The War on Elephants. BBC, 28 April 2016. “How the very existence of Africa’s elephants is threatened by poachers, traffickers and Asia’s appetite for ivory.”

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Ghosts of Iguala. Mexico: How 43 Students Disappeared in the Night

Ryan Devereaux, Ghosts of Iguala. Mexico: How 43 Students Disappeared in the Night. The Intercept, 4 May 2015. A two-part investigation by Ryan Devereaux and a photo essay by Keith Dannemiller. “The nightmare began just after sundown. At a dimly lit intersection in Iguala, police with automatic weapons surrounded three buses loaded with college students. The police opened fire. Screaming that they were unarmed, the students fled down darkened alleys, pounding on doors, desperate for shelter. Gunmen put the city on lockdown, stalking the streets in a drizzling rain.

By the time the gunfire finally stopped, two dozen people were wounded and six were dead at three locations, the youngest only 15 years old. One student was shot in the head, leaving him brain dead. A bullet ripped through the mouth of another. Two young men bled to death in the streets, left for hours without medical help. First light brought fresh horrors when the mutilated body of one of the students was discovered in the dirt.

Worse was yet to come. During the chaos, 43 students had been taken captive.

The crimes that began in Iguala on September 26, 2014 had reverberations throughout Mexico. Massive protests have roiled the country. Government buildings have been torched. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was forced to launch what his administration called the largest investigation in recent memory.”

Update: Ryan Devereaux, Independent Investigators Leave Mexico Without Solving the Case of 43 Disappeared Students. The Intercept, 25 April 2016. “The…first report [of the international panel of experts] was published in September of last year. The 560-page document meticulously deconstructed the [Mexican] government’s account and presented the events that night for what they were: a hyper-violent, coordinated, multi-pronged ambush of unarmed civilians at multiple locations resulting in at least six people dead, 40 injured, and 43 disappeared, carried out with full knowledge, if not outright participation, of security forces at all levels, including federal police and the military.

The experts had come to Mexico at the government’s invitation. With the authority to conduct an independent investigation and promises that the state would aid in making the necessary evidence and witnesses available, their presence offered a glimmer of hope that the most shocking crime in recent Mexican history might actually get solved. That hope soon crumbled though.

Following their first report [in September 2015], the experts’ relationship to the government turned cold, according to an account members of the panel provided to the New York Times. The government refused to make key interviews possible, including interviews with members of the military potentially present on the night of the students’ disappearance. Meanwhile, the experts themselves were attacked in media outlets close to the state, and an individual who appointed them became the target of a dubious criminal inquiry. Despite a sense that their job was not done, the experts were not offered an extension of their mandate. They are expected to leave Mexico in the coming days [late April 2016].”

Update: Kirk Semple and Elisabeth Malkin, Inquiry Challenges Mexico’s Account of How 43 Students Vanished. The New York Times, 24 April 2016.

See also: Francisco Goldman’s series in The New Yorker on the missing students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in the state of Guerrero in Mexico.

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Where Are the Children? For extortionists, undocumented migrants have become big business

Sarah Stillman, Where Are the Children? For extortionists, undocumented migrants have become big business. The New Yorker, 27 April 2015. “Tougher border security has made migrants [from Central America] more vulnerable. Routes are more perilous, and organized crime controls many smuggling operations. One activist says, ‘The harder you make it to cross, the more people can charge, the more dangerous the trip becomes.'”

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