Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Nafta ‘Danger Zone’ Nears as Key Talks Begin Amid Trump Threats — Canadian officials said the chance of a U.S. exit is seen as increasing

January 22, 2018

Bloomberg

By Josh Wingrove, Andrew Mayeda, and Eric Martin

  • Trump ties talks to Mexico wall as U.S. complains about Canada
  • Sixth round of negotiations running Jan. 21 to 29 in Montreal

Nafta talks are entering a pivotal moment as the U.S. turns up the pressure on Canada and Mexico to radically alter the trade pact in favor of American interests.

In the run-up to the sixth round of talks that are now underway in Montreal, there has been plenty of saber-rattling and posturing from the three countries. But through it all, a somewhat consistent pattern emerged: U.S. President Donald Trump kept threatening to withdraw from the pact while Canada and Mexico suggested they’d bring fresh thinking to the table to try to resolve some of the touchiest issues. The question now is whether they can move forward fast enough to salvage the deal before electoral politics overwhelm the agenda later this year.

“We’re reaching the danger zone right now,” said Stephen Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who was an economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign. “This is a pretty important meeting, because if there’s still no progress, the White House could become very frustrated and just throw up their hands and say, ‘We’re pulling out.”’

The latest session to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement began Sunday in Montreal and is scheduled to last through Jan. 29, making it the longest round yet. The 24-year-old trade pact is a key linchpin for the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which trade more than $1 trillion in goods annually. Any of the three can quit after six-months’ notice, though Trump is the only one to regularly threaten to give it.

Trump has lately tied the talks to his push for a border wall with Mexico, while the U.S. is also growing impatient with Canada’s perceived unwillingness to compromise, according to two people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

At the same time, there are pro-Nafta signals coming from the Trump administration, including Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue who said in an interview last week that Trump shares his view that Nafta has benefits for U.S. farmers. And signs have been mounting from Canada and Mexico that they will be more flexible in trying to score a breakthrough in talks.

Mexico hinted it could bend on automotive rules, one of the most explosive issues, while also saying that officials agree broadly on 40 percent of the pact. Canada, meanwhile, has said it will bring “new ideas” to the talks, and that several topics, known as chapters, are close to being concluded, even as Canadian officials said the chance of a U.S. exit is seen as increasing.

There are a handful of key disputes over U.S. demands. They include autos, where the U.S. wants to raise the amount of a car that must be built in the three countries to be traded under the deal. Another hot button issue includes adding a sunset clause to terminate the pact after five years unless all three countries agree to renew it.

“It’s very important to continue to make progress both with the United States and with Canada,” Mexican Finance Secretary Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya said Jan. 18. “Mexico will not pay for a wall. It’s not a negotiation stance for Mexico; it’s an issue of national sovereignty and dignity.”

‘How Bad?’

Canada’s chief central banker said the ongoing talks are already hurting business investment and that it’s hard to predict the impact of the death of Nafta.

“I would believe that it would be net negative for both Canada and for the United States, but to actually quantify that is very difficult,” Governor Stephen Poloz told a news conference Jan. 17. Prices for consumers would rise and it would reverse the “income effect” that free trade deals create by boosting purchasing power, he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will meet in Toronto on Monday. The two ministers along with Lighthizer are scheduled to make a joint statement on the closing day of round six, while the seventh session of talks is set for February.

If the negotiations drag on too long, they could run into the political calendar. Mexico holds a presidential election July 1 and U.S. congressional midterms take place in November. Trump indicated this month that he could be flexible with talks ahead of the Mexican election — and then repeated his threat to withdraw if he can’t reach an agreement that’s “fair” for America.

“The White House seems to have dug in its heels,” said Moore at Heritage, adding it’s possible, but not likely, Trump will lose patience and quit. “That would be a really bad outcome for the economy. I think it would send shudders through the stock market. It would create a lot of chaos.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/nafta-danger-zone-nears-as-key-talks-begin-amid-trump-threats

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32 bodies found in mass graves in rural Mexico

January 17, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | Official data showed 117 people were recorded as missing last year in Nayarit state, western Mexico, which borders Sinaloa and Jalisco states, where drug cartels are behind a violent crime wave

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – At least 32 bodies have been found in mass graves in Mexico’s northwestern state of Nayarit, authorities said Tuesday.”The first grave was located on Saturday. There were nine bodies,” in a rural area not far from a banana farm, an official in the local prosecutors’ office told AFP on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to media.

Two other graves were detected nearby with remains “in an advanced state of decomposition,” the source said.

Later, another source from the same office said the toll had risen to 32 bodies recovered, and that officials were still working on the sites.

Nayarit, in western Mexico, borders the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco, where powerful drug cartels are behind a violent crime wave.

According to official data, 117 people were recorded as missing last year in Nayarit.

The country has seen around 200,000 violent deaths since December 2006, when the federal government launched a military crackdown on the cartels. There was no official breakdown as to how many of those were linked to criminal organizations.

Canada increasingly convinced Trump will pull out of NAFTA

January 11, 2018

Reuters

Canada is increasingly convinced that U.S. President Donald Trump will soon announce that the United States intends to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, two government sources said on Wednesday.

The sources said they expected Trump would make his move at about the same time that negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet in late January for the sixth and penultimate round of talks to modernize the treaty.

A Canadian official told CNBC that while the chances of a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA are increasing, there is no convincing information to suggest it will happen soon.

 Image result for mexico and canada flags, photos

The Canadian and Mexican currencies both weakened against the U.S. dollar after Reuters broke the news.

The Canadian dollar fell to its weakest level this year at C$1.2561 to the greenback, or 79.61 U.S. cents. The peso was trading down more than 0.6 pct at 2:50 p.m. ET, while the S&P/BM IPC stock index was down about 1.7 percent.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from NAFTA unless Canada and Mexico agree to major changes Washington says are needed to make the 1994 treaty more fair.

Canadian officials say if Trump does announce a U.S. withdrawal, it could be a negotiating tactic designed to win concessions. They also express doubt whether the U.S. Congress would approve such a move.

Canada and Mexico have rejected most of the U.S. proposals for NAFTA reforms, leaving officials with a big job if they are to bridge the large differences at the Jan. 23-28 talks in Montreal. Negotiations are due to wrap up at the end of March.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

This Could Be the Month of Reckoning for Trump’s Trade Agenda

January 4, 2018

Bloomberg

By Sarah McGregor and  Andrew Mayeda

U.S. President Donald Trump

Photographer: Mike Theiler/Pool via Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade could be reaching a moment of truth.

While Trump campaigned on clamping down on countries that engage in unfair trade, he managed to defer punitive actions in his first year by ordering his administration to study the challenges. Now the deadlines are approaching — some of them in just a few weeks — and the president will have the power then to move ahead with measures that could roil global trade.

Trump will have to decide whether to impose tariffs on imports of everything from aluminum and steel to solar panels and washing machines. Of course, he can always choose to do nothing or go for less heavy-handed remedies or ones that buy even more time, like negotiating a solution.

Mark your calendar with these milestones over the next month.

January 5 Talks to amend a five-year-old trade deal with South Korea take place in Washington. The U.S. wants Korea to provide more access for American cars and farm goods.
Mid-January U.S. Commerce must recommend whether to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on national security grounds — aimed at China. Trump then has up to 90 days to take action.
January 23-28 Montreal hosts talks to revamp the Nafta pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This sixth round is critical for a breakthrough so that efforts to rework the trade deal don’t soon collapse.
January 26 Trump is due to decide whether to take action on cheap solar panel imports to protect the U.S. manufacturing sector. The U.S. International Trade Commission has found that cheap foreign-made solar products are hurting domestic producers.
End-January The Trump administration could announce action on China’s intellectual property practices before his month-end State of the Union speech, according to industry publication Inside Trade. This could be delayed — an investigation into China’s alleged IP theft and forced technology transfers isn’t due until later this year.
Late-January The U.S. ITC is expected to give a final ruling on whether American industry has been hurt by Bombardier’s sales of passenger jets, as Boeing alleges. If the ITC sides with Boeing, duties on Bombardier C Series jets would become permanent.
Early February Trump is expected to make a decision on whether to impose tariffs on imported washing machines. The U.S. ITC has recommended imposing graduated tariffs over three years on a quota-basis.

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Mexican Journalist Fled to U.S. After Threats. Nine Years Later, U.S. Says Go Back.

January 3, 2018

Emilio Gutierrez Soto, recently denied asylum and arrested after an initial appeal was rejected, says he and his son will be killed if they return to Mexico

The Justice Department temporarily blocked the deportation of Emilio Gutierrez Soto, above, and his son while an appeal is being decided.
The Justice Department temporarily blocked the deportation of Emilio Gutierrez Soto, above, and his son while an appeal is being decided. PHOTO: NOEL ST. JOHN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Mexican journalist who sought refuge in the United States amid death threats almost a decade ago now faces deportation in a case drawing criticism from immigration and journalism advocates.

The case is a high-profile example of the years it can take for asylum claims to wind through the country’s backlogged immigration court system, compounded by appeals and the challenge of claiming refuge from countries that are U.S. allies.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto,  54, says he and his 24-year-old son Oscar Gutierrez Soto will be killed if they return to Mexico.

The pair were recently denied asylum and arrested after an initial appeal was rejected on technical grounds.

The Justice Department temporarily blocked their deportation while an appeal is being decided.

Mr. Gutierrez said in a recent interview from a West Texas immigration jail that he plans to fight until all appeals are exhausted.

“We’ll fight until the last step,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “We have plenty of witnesses and testimony. Fortunately, I’m not alone.”

Mr. Gutierrez is supported by immigration advocates and journalism organizations, including the National Press Club and Reporters Without Borders. More than 23,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for immigration officials to release Mr. Gutierrez and his son.

Kathy Kiely, a press freedom fellow for the National Press Club’s Journalism Institute, said the U.S. government appears to be ignoring ongoing threats to journalists in Mexico.

“To me it’s a very backwards, upside down situation,” Ms. Kiely said.

At least 11 journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, according to Reporters Without Borders, an international freedom of information organization that also tracks threats to journalists.

Eduardo Beckett, an El Paso immigration lawyer who recently took Mr. Gutierrez’s case, said he believed the judge was dismissive of Mr. Gutierrez’s claims because he has been outside of Mexico for so long and hasn’t been working as a journalist in the United States. Mr. Gutierrez has been running a food truck in Las Cruces, N.M.

Nonetheless, Mr. Beckett said Mr. Gutierrez has continued to be an outspoken critic of the Mexican government and the military.

The father and son fled to the United States in July 2008 after a group of men who identified themselves as military troops ransacked their home.

The elder Mr. Gutierrez said in his asylum application that he had been writing about abuses of civilians by the Mexican military since 2005 and the raid on his house and reports of death threats prompted him to flee.

Mr. Gutierrez fled Mexico in the midst of a bloody fight between powerful drug cartels and the Mexican government. In some towns and cities, military units took on the role of police officers, prompting complaints of abuses and rights violations.

He was among the first journalists to flee Mexico and seek asylum in the United States, a long shot for any Mexican citizen.

During the 2008 fiscal year, when Mr. Gutierrez and his son asked for asylum, more than 3,000 such requests were made. Immigration judges that year granted just 71 cases and denied 250, according to statistics published by the Justice Department.

Because of a backlog of more than 650,000 cases in the immigration court system, asylum cases can take years to be decided.

In 2016, the most recently available Justice Department statistics, nearly 13,000 Mexicans asked the U.S. government for refuge. Judges approved 464 requests while denying more than 2,600 others. To win asylum, applicants must prove they have or are likely to suffer persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Foreigners seeking asylum in the United States must also prove that the government of their home country is either unwilling or unable to protect them.

Proving that can be difficult for citizens of countries that are U.S. allies, such as Mexico. And the existence of general violence or crime in a country doesn’t necessarily mean someone will qualify for asylum in the U.S.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexican-journalist-fled-to-u-s-after-threats-nine-years-later-u-s-says-go-back-1514975400

Write to Alicia A. Caldwell at Alicia.Caldwell@wsj.com

Anxiety, evasion and addiction: how Mexicans deal with endless violence — More than 23,000 dead

December 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Sofia MISELEM | A Mexican woman protests the assassination of journalist Javier Valdez

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Between anxiety, addiction and evasion, Mexicans have found coping mechanisms to deal with the violence plaguing their country and which peaked in 2017 to the highest level in two decades.The year is not yet over, but the number of murders committed in November reached 23,101, according to a government registry of violent deaths, the highest count since the tally was launched in 1997, and topping the 22,409 killed in 2011 when the big drugs cartels started to fracture.

The statistics do not show how many of the deaths were linked to narco-trafficking, but experts believe the majority were attributable to the wave of drugs-related violence that has risen incessantly since 2006, when the government launched all-out war on Mexico’s powerful cartels.

– Collective violence –

“Since the start of this absurd war on drugs, Mexico has entered into what the World Health Organization technically defines as ‘collective violence,'” said Juan Ramon de la Fuente, a psychiatrist and former dean of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, or UNAM.

“It is a kind of epidemic when there are more than 10 homicides for every 100,000 people,” he said.

WHO figures show that in 2015 Mexico was suffering 19 murders per 100,000 people, but De la Fuente, who participated in a multidisciplinary study of the impact of violence on society, puts that figure at at least 22 per 100,000.

The lack of security that has reigned over large tracts of Mexico for years has had a tangible emotional impact on the population, said De La Fuente, while life expectancy has dropped yearly among young people because of the number of youths being killed.

“We cannot separate the violence from the mental health problems which are on the rise across the country,” said De La Fuente. “There is a feeling of helplessness which creates reactions that people express symptomatically, in terms of anxiety, a disturbance to sleep patterns, or the increased use of alcohol and other drugs.”

According to government data, drug consumption has in fact increased by more than 40 percent since 2010.

“In Mexico there are no fewer than a million people who probably have suffered from some emotional or psychological impact derived from the drugs war since the army was sent on to the streets,” said Rogelio Flores, a researcher into the societal effects of violence at UNAM’s psychology department.

De la Fuente estimates that with the 200,000 people murdered, and tens of thousands missing since 2006, around 250,000 homes in Mexico have been affected by “a process of pain, depression, helplessness, frustration and fear, a gamut of very powerful and complicated emotions which is overlooked by the state from a medical and psychological point of view.”

– Scenes from Dante –

In other cases, people display the phenomenon of “normalization” or “habituation” to the endless violence that is incorporated into daily life, from school children learning how to protect themselves during shootings to drugs lords being lionized in television shows or in the folk ballards known as “narco-corridas.”

“It is worrying that we come to see death as an element of everyday life,” said Flores. “There is a process of desensitization in large parts of society which is promoting and legitimizing violence, without considering its consequences.”

The spectacular cruelty of the drug cartels has produced scenes of Dantesque horror, with people being beheaded, dismembered, skinned alive, tortured and hung from bridges — their bodies dumped, often by the dozen, in the streets for all to see.

Martin Barron, a criminologist at the National Institute for Criminal Science, said that in the past the cartels had “codes of respect” that included not killing a victim’s wife or children.

But in 2009, with the rise of the Zetas — the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, which was made up originally from government special police who defected to the drugs lords — all the rules started to disappear.

“The criminals now have no limitations preventing them inflicting whatever degrading acts they wish upon another human being,” he said.

He underlined the lack of importance given to the origin of the Zetas, former elite commandos around whom swirl macabre legends, such as the story that one their late leaders used to eat the human flesh of his victims.

“We have to analyze these figures that come from a military background, they start out there and then the cartels look for someone who would do be prepared to do something like this. This violence is not in the normal make-up of Mexicans, you have to go out looking for someone with psychotic tendencies,” he said.

Related:

GOP frustration rises with Trump on trade

December 26, 2017

BY ALEXANDER BOLTON – 12/26/17 12:17

Senate Republicans are growing frustrated with what they see as a lack of clear direction in President Trump’s trade agenda, which they warn is hurting U.S. exporters.

Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee vented their concerns in a recent meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and water

GOP lawmakers, especially those from agriculture-heavy states, have two major complaints with the administration.

They feel it is not listening to Congress’s feedback on negotiations with Mexico and Canada over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA.

They’re also frustrated by what they see as a total lack of progress in negotiating the bilateral trade agreements with Pacific Rim countries that Trump promised after pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January.

They made their displeasure known during the meeting with Lighthizer, said Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), a member of the Finance Committee and the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.

“There’s a number of frustrations with their approach including — as I’ve told the ambassador before — they need Congress to ratify it under [Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)] and so they don’t seem to be paying that much attention to what members of the Senate think,” Cornyn said.

TPA gives the administration authority to negotiate on trade deals. Congress, under the TPA law, has the authority to review any proposed U.S. trade agreement and decide whether it will be implemented.

“Members are frustrated the administration isn’t regularly consulting with them during NAFTA negotiations as they’re obligated to under TPA,” said a Senate Republican aide.

GOP lawmakers are worried that altering trade relations with Canada and Mexico too drastically could rattle the economy and wipe out the stimulative punch of the tax-cut package Trump just signed into law.

Texas, for example, relies heavily on trade with Mexico. It exported $92 billion in goods to Mexico in 2016, according to the International Trade Administration.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who also attended the meeting, said he’s worried that the U.S. is losing market share to Argentina in Mexico’s wheat market.

“It would be a paradox of enormous irony if here we’re passing a tax bill to achieve economic growth and on the other side of it pulling the trigger on NAFTA — if the president would do that — could very well cause a farm recession and a stock market reaction that would be very counterproductive,” Roberts said.

Talks with Mexico and Canada grew tense over the fall when the Trump administration suggested replacing NAFTA with a new agreement that would sunset after five years.

Roberts expressed strong opposition to such a proposal.
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A spokesperson for the Senate Finance Committee said Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and other members of the panel met with Lighthizer for about an hour to discuss “a variety of trade issues, including ongoing NAFTA negotiations.”

Hatch said “weakening NAFTA would be detrimental to the U.S. and Utah’s economy.”

The U.S. Trade Representative press office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

GOP lawmakers are also growing exasperated over the lack of progress in replacing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump transition officials signaled to lawmakers and the media a year ago that the administration would have new deals in place very quickly to replace the TPP, which went forward without the United States.

“You will be shocked by the speed at which bilateral agreements begin to materialize,” a Trump transition adviser told Reuters in January.

But Roberts said “I don’t think there’s been much planning on it.”

Lighthizer has tried to reassure the Kansas Republican by telling him that “there are some possibilities with Vietnam” that the administration is exploring.

“If you do one by one, that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and we could have had a joint TPP, where you have trade with a country, you plant the American flag and they know you have their back. They don’t want to do any business with China,” Roberts added.

He said Australia and Japan are now taking U.S. business opportunities with other Pacific countries.

Roberts said the lack of work on bilateral trade deals can be explained by the administration’s focus on renegotiating NAFTA and the slow pace of confirming key officials to the trade representative’s office.

Other Republicans who played key roles in the tax-reform debate say they’re also worried about the cloud that Trump’s trade policy is casting over the economy.

“I’ve always said I’m happy to have another administration negotiate better trade deals but we have to negotiate the trade deals and we’ve got to get moving on it or we’re going to be left behind,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a member of the Commerce Committee.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), whose home state relies on agricultural trade, said it would have been easier to stick with the Trans-Pacific Partnership instead of pursuing multiple bilateral trade deals.

He said multiple trade talks create difficulty because every country the United States negotiates with will be concerned about not getting as good a deal as a foreign competitor.

“My producers in South Dakota could really use some additional international markets,” Rounds said.

But he also gave Trump credit for re-opening up China to U.S. beef exports after a 14-year hiatus.

Image result for U.S. beef to china, photos

“I think they’re just finding it more difficult to get a lot of little agreements done,” Rounds said.

“Am I opposed to individual treaties with individual countries? No. But I just think it’s much more difficult than doing a single deal,” he added.

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/366247-gop-frustration-rises-with-trump-on-trade

2017 Mexico’s most violent year in two decades: officials

December 23, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | An activist posing as a murder victim lies on the ground during a demonstration in Ciudad Juarez against the approval of a new internal security law that would formalize the military’s role in domestic security

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – 

2017 was Mexico’s most violent year in two decades, with 23,101 murders carried out between January and November, according to official figures released Friday.

The number of murders in the first 11 months of this year surpassed the previous record of 22,409 killings during the whole of 2011.

In November alone, 2,212 murders were recorded — while 2,380 killings were carried out in October, making it the most violent month since the authorities began keeping records two decades ago.

Violence has surged across Mexico over the last decade after former president Felipe Calderon’s government declared war against the country’s powerful drug cartels in late 2006.

Some 190,000 people have died in drug related violence since then.

This year, the killings spread to states which had previously escaped clashes between cartels — including Baja California Sur, a northwestern state popular with tourists where the murder rate has more than doubled from last year’s total.

According to experts, this year’s considerable increase in violence is the result of cartels fragmenting into smaller, more brutal cells.

Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Mike Vigil told AFP that cartels have started to fight for territory to grow illicit crops — while a weak police force and rampant corruption further fuel the problem.

Semaforo Delictivo, a civil society project promoting peace in Mexico, in October said the high murder rate reflected a lack of action by the authorities and a “failure” of their anti-crime strategy.

In a bid to address the issue, Mexico’s congress last week approved a controversial internal security law that would formalize the military’s role in domestic security.

The move drew criticism from rights groups concerned about the militarization of the country — while UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein said earlier this month it “risks weakening incentives for the civilian authorities to fully assume their law enforcement roles.”

“More than a decade after the armed forces were deployed in the so-called war on drugs, violence has not abated and many human rights violations and abuses … continue to be committed by various state and non-state actors,” he said in a statement.

Reporters Without Borders says 65 journalists killed worldwide in 2017

December 19, 2017
© Yuri Cortez, AFP | Veronica Castro Lopez, mother of photojournalist Edgar Esqueda, cries over the coffin during his wake in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on October 7, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-19

Sixty-five journalists and media workers were killed worldwide in 2017, according to annual figures published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday.

Among them were 50 professional reporters, the lowest toll in 14 years. However, the downward trend is due at least in part to journalists giving up working in the world’s deadliest spots.

War-torn Syria remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, RSF said, with 12 reporters killed, followed by Mexico where 11 were assassinated.

They included Javier Valdez, one of the most prominent chroniclers of Mexico’s deadly drug war, whose murder in May sparked a public outcry.

The 50-year-old AFP contributor was shot dead in broad daylight in the street in the violent northwestern state of Sinaloa.

His last book, “Narco-journalism”, recounted the tribulations of Mexican reporters who try to cover the country’s extremely violent “narcos” drug cartels.

RSF said Mexico was the deadliest country not at war, saying those who “cover political corruption or organised crime are often systemically targeted, threatened and gunned down.”

‘Alarming comments’

The Philippines has become Asia’s most dangerous country for reporters, with at least five journalists being shot in the last year, four of whom died of their injuries.

The rise comes after what RSF called an “alarming comment” by President Rodrigo Duterte who said in May that “just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”

No journalists were killed in the country the previous year.

>> Crimes against journalists: 900 reporters killed over the past decade

The overall number of professional reporters slain worldwide, however, fell to its lowest number in 14 years, RSF said.

Of the 65 killed, the report said 39 were murdered, while the rest died in the line of duty collateral victims of deadly circumstances likes air strikes or suicide bombings.

The group said that the drop in the death rate may be because journalists were now being better trained and protected for war zones.

“The downward trend is also due to journalists abandoning countries that have become too dangerous,” it added.

“Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have been haemorrhaging journalists.” But the trend is not confined to countries at war, RSF added.

Turkey jails most journalists

“Many journalists have either fled abroad or abandoned journalism in Mexico, where the criminal cartels and local politicians have imposed a reign of terror,” it said.

Turkey is the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, the figures show, with 42 reporters and one media worker behind bars.

“Criticising the government, working for a ‘suspect’ media outlet, contacting a sensitive source or even just using an encrypted messaging service all constitute grounds for jailing journalists on terrorism charges,” the report said.

With 52 languishing in jail, China, however, continues to lead the table when bloggers are taken into account.

RSF accused Beijing of toughening its “arsenal of measures for persecuting journalists and bloggers.

“The government no longer sentences its opponents to death but instead deliberately lets their health deteriorate in prison until they die,” it added, referring to the deaths of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and dissident blogger Yang Tongyan, who both died of cancer this year after being diagnosed in prison.

Syria (24), Iran (23) and Vietnam (19) were the other top five jailers of journalists.

Marco Rubio: ‘Vladimir Putin chose to interfere in US elections’

December 14, 2017

US Senator Marco Rubio, who ran against President Donald Trump during the Republican primaries, tells DW’s Zhanna Nemtsova that talk of US President Donald Trump’s impeachment over alleged Russian ties is premature.

 Related image
 http://www.dw.com/en/marco-rubio-vladimir-putin-chose-to-interfere-in-us-elections/a-41769103

Watch video18:14

DW talks to US Senator Marco Rubio

DW:US President Donald Trump is making headlines across the world because of his Russia connections [the Robert Mueller-led investigation into alleged US collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election — the ed.]. What might be the final political consequences for him?

Marco RubioWell, one thing about the US, compared to Vladimir Putin’s government, is that we have a system of checks and balances and a system of rule of law. Right now there are suspicions and allegations that have been made that are being investigated by professional investigators who will make decisions based on the facts. Ultimately, we will let it play itself out and go wherever the truth takes us, that’s the way our system works.

And the people that are accused have a right to defend themselves and prove their innocence. And the government has a burden to prove that. We are not at that stage yet. But what is abundantly clear is that Vladimir Putin chose to interfere in the US elections — in my opinion, not so much to favor one candidate over another, but to sow instability. In many ways he blames the United States for the protests against corruption and against him that took place in 2009, 2010, or 2011. He thinks that the United States was behind it. In many ways, this was a part of getting revenge for that. And the other part of it is that he wanted to destabilize the US, to be able to go back and say to his own people and to the world that America is in no position to lecture anyone about democracy, as their own democracy is flawed. I don’t necessarily disagree that we’re not perfect. The difference is that our imperfections are debated openly in a free society and not presented through a state-controlled media, loyal to one person and one regime.

But I’m talking about this particular investigation. If they prove that Trump had connections to Russia, what would the consequences be for him and his political career? How big is the risk of impeachment, for example?

Well, we’re way ahead of ourselves when talking about impeachment. Right now we have an ongoing investigation, and it may lead to nothing. We’ve already seen a couple of indictments, but it may not ultimately prove that the president did something wrong. We need to wait for that. I don’t want to prejudge that — it would be unfair and prejudicial to do so. But ultimately, I am confident that those doing the investigation are serious and professional people. The truth is going to be out there for courts to look at — in the case of the individuals that have been indicted or may be indicted, and for the voters to look at — in the case of anybody else who is in elected office.

In your estimation, how big is the real impact of Russia’s interference in the US presidential election?

Trump and Putin talking to each otherDid you hear the one about me and the Democrats?

I don’t think it impacted the outcome. But we most certainly need to be aware that foreign governments tried to exploit legitimate divisions in American society for purposes of creating chaos. I think that Vladimir Putin’s ultimate goal was not the election of one candidate versus another, although he may have personally preferred one candidate. But his ultimate goal was to ensure that whoever was elected the next US president, they did so with their credibility damaged. I also think that he wanted to exploit the already existing divisions in American society for the purpose of forcing us to go through what we’re going through right now — investigations, divisive debates, talk about impeachment, and the like.

It’s destabilizing. This is a pattern that has repeated itself not simply in the US elections — we saw an attempt to do it in France, Germany, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and even potentially in Mexico this year. This is a sort of hybrid warfare type concept that he has adopted, and it is in line with his training as a KGB officer and the sort of propaganda efforts that existed during the Cold War, without the internet and without Twitter and Facebook.

 http://www.dw.com/en/marco-rubio-vladimir-putin-chose-to-interfere-in-us-elections/a-41769103

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