This week we shine the spotlight on Mexico:
CHILD TRAFFICKING PROBE IN SONORA
Mexican national daily Excelsior reports that the country's Attorney General formally charged two officials from the northern state of Sonora with child trafficking. The case first emerged last month, when Vladimir Alfredo Arzate and José Hernández López, both officials at a government agency tasked with protecting at-risk minors, were alleged to have run a child trafficking network in Sonora that abducted newborn children and sold them to willing buyers.
According to financial newspaper El Economista the men and their associates, including a doctor who falsified birth certificates, are accused of taking babies from poor mothers or women suffering from drug addiction and then sell them to wealthy families for anywhere between $5,000 and $9,000 each. They could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
ANNIVERSARY MARCH FOR MISSING STUDENTS
Thousands took to the streets of Mexico City to mark the anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students in the city of Iguala, kidnapped on Sept. 26, 2014 from a rural high school. Relatives of the missing students joined with marchers from across Mexican society for a peaceful protest against the government's handling of the investigation into the disappearance.
The Mexican government finished its investigation in February, concluding that the students were taken by local policemen allied to a drug lord who later killed them and incinerated their bodies. But the people who gathered to march to Mexico City's central Zócalo square don't believe the government's story, and this month experts from the Organization of American States (OAS) refuted the official version of events. Mexican daily El Universalwrites that 18,000 people marched in the pouring rain to commemorate the missing students and demand justice from the authorities.
DESIGNERS REBEL AGAINST "EL BRONCO"
While the eccentric and outspoken Jaime Calderón, known colloquially as "El Bronco," may have won over Nuevo León's voters, he does not seem to be enjoying much popularity among graphic designers, writes the Saltillo-based newspaper Vanguardia. The independent politician caused a stir in Mexican politics this year when he became the first independent candidate to win a major election, succeeding in his campaign to become governor of Nuevo León, an industrial powerhouse state in northern Mexico.
But designers on the Internet ridiculed Calderón when he announced that the winner of a contest to design the new logo of the Nuevo León government would have to give up all property rights over the design, with the only reward being a dinner with El Bronco himself. Many contestants expressed their outrage on Facebook, with one saying "this is robbery," while another called on Mexico's designers to unite and say no to the proposal.
Famous on the campaign trail for his propensity for vulgar language, controversy still seems to follow El Bronco even as governor-elect.
CLASHES IN MORELIA
Students engaged in violent clashes with the police on a highway near the city of Morelia on Saturday, reports Mexico City-based El Universal. High school students from the nearby Tiripetio Vasco de Quiroga Normal School stole several cars and then blocked traffic on the Morelia-Pátzcuaro highway, and police soon arrived to respond to the situation. The stand-off soon turned violent as the students threw rocks and sticks at the officers, who charged at the students and arrested eight of them. Angered by the police action, the others regrouped to block the exit to Pátzcuaro for several hours and threatened to set fire to the highway. The stand-off ended when the students stole five buses and escaped to their school, taking the passengers and drivers hostage.
According to El Universal this is the third violent confrontation between normal school students and police this month, as tensions are high due to the anniversary of the disappearance of 43 normal school students from Iguala.
RARE WHITE LION CUBS BORN
The Culiacán Zoo presented two rare white lion clubs to the public for the first time since their birth two months ago, writes Sinaloan daily El Debate. The zoo's director told the newspaper that the cubs' birth is a huge success for the zoo's conservation program, as their species is in danger of extinction.
Culiacán's mayor attended the event and praised the zoo's white lion conservation work, announcing that the city's children would participate in a vote to name the two newborn cubs. Only two other zoos in Mexico have similar conservation programs for white lions.