Category: Related News

From Cancun to Los Cabos, tourists scared off Mexico’s beaches

(CHRON) — In the spring break capital of Cancun, Mexico, hotel occupancy has tumbled 10 percent this year. As bad as that is, over in Los Cabos, on the tip of the Baja California peninsula, it’s worse.

The airport serving Cabo San Lucas and its lesser-known sister city, San Jose del Cabo, is looking emptier these days. And hotel guests have canceled 35,000 nights of bookings over the next year – collectively a decade’s worth of visits for a single traveler.

At a time when the weaker peso should be luring American travelers in droves, many are staying away, spooked by a wave of violence that’s come dangerously close to tourist hot spots. Gunmen opened fire at a Cancun nightclub in November, and a cooler with two human heads was found on Cabo San Lucas’s main hotel strip in June.

But the biggest blow came on Aug. 22, when the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning advising tourists to steer clear altogether.

“Group tourism automatically went down the moment the warning hit,” said Carlos Gosselin, head of the hotel association for Cancun and Puerto Morelos. Many insurance companies likely won’t even consider offering coverage in areas under advisory, hurting conventions and events in the area, he said.

Mexico is reinforcing security in popular tourist spots to get the State Department to revise its views, and companies including Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International are spending millions to make guests feel safer. Their motivation is clear: Barclays estimates that a drop in tourism could wipe out as much as 0.5 percentage point from Mexico’s gross domestic product growth this year.

“Lower tourism activity will definitely have an impact on growth,” said Marco Oviedo, head of Latin America economic research at Barclays. “External tourism is one of the most important sources of income in the current account.”

Mexico gets about $20 billion a year from tourism. With murders quadrupling in Los Cabos and doubling in Cancun this year, a chunk of that revenue may be at stake. Quintana Roo, the state where Cancun is located, is the destination of a third of all the nation’s international tourists.

In Los Cabos, local and federal authorities are teaming up with hotels, time-share companies and the airport operator to step up the area’s security.

The group is spending $50 million to increase surveillance cameras to cover the 20-mile main stretch that includes hotels, restaurants and public beaches. A new military facility, paid for in part by the private sector, will be built near a highway to respond to any activity spotted on the cameras. It is set to open in the second quarter of 2018.

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Mexican cops seize luxury ranch tied to border narco-governor

(BREITBART) — by Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby

Agents with the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office raided a luxury ranch tied to a former cartel-linked governor who is the target of an ongoing embezzlement and money laundering investigation.

Authorities raided a luxurious ranch tracing back to former Tamaulipas Governor Eugenio Hernandez. The agents also searched for two yet-unnamed individuals who are targets of the ongoing investigation against the former politician. The pair were not found during the raid.

State authorities arrested Hernandez last week in the state capital of Ciudad Victoria on warrants charging him with one count of embezzlement and one count of money laundering. The case against Hernandez is linked to the purchase of a large piece of state-owned coastal property that, according to authorities, he purchased for one percent of the property’s fair market value.

Since carrying out the arrest, authorities seized the large tract of property and raided a luxury ranch registered to one of the shell companies used by Hernandez. The property boasts a pool, tennis court, various buildings, and warehouses, as well as a rodeo arena.

The former politician is currently listed as a fugitive by the U.S. Department of Justice on multiple money laundering charges. Hernandez is wanted by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as well.

Despite his fugitive status in the U.S., Mexican authorities did not move against Hernandez–who lived with complete impunity–until Tamaulipas state authorities arrested him. The action by state authorities follows last year’s landslide election win by current governor Francisco Cabeza de Vaca, who is from the National Action Party (PAN). Under Cabeza de Vaca’s term, investigators discovered that former PRI Governor Egidio Torre provided state cops as bodyguards to Hernandez and another fugitive cartel-linked governor, Tomas Yarrington.

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India to completely seal its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh

(GREATER KASHMIR) — India’s Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said that government wants to completely seal Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, adding that technology will also be used to curb infiltration where fencing is not possible.

Addressing Border Security Force agents near Nowshera, Singh said that government is working to completely seal the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“We wish to completely seal our borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he said.

Singh also shared his views on some vulnerable points of border and said that some areas on border are uncovered where fencing is not possible and we have to find technological solutions of such stretches.

Singh also termed Border Security Force as first wall of Defense and said that after army, BSF is India’s power and BSF men work in all conditions.

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Israel’s southern wall proves 100 percent effective in preventing infiltrations

(ALGEMEINER) — Not a single infiltration from the Sinai Peninsula into Israel was recorded over the past 12 months, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority reported on Sunday.

Officials credit this surprising statistic to the fence Israel built along its border with Egypt several years ago.

In 2016, only 18 people managed to cross into Israel from Egypt illegally, while in 2015 the number of such infiltrators stood at 220.

Meanwhile, authorities said over the past 12 months, Israel deported 2,431 people who crossed into its territory illegally, including 2,245 Eritreans and 186 Sudanese.

According to Population and Immigration Authority data, some 38,000 African migrants live in Israel illegally.

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Israel company to build US-Mexico border wall prototype

(YNET NEWS) — An Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) subsidiary is on the shortlist to construct the new border wall between the United States and Mexico, an enormous project and long-touted campaign promise by President Donald Trump.

Elta North America, the aforementioned IAI subsidiary, was announced Saturday as one of only four companies to construct a prototype for a “smart border” wall, after winning a US Customs tender. More than 200 companies from around the world presented bids for the tender.

Each one of the quartet of companies will receive funding of $300,000-$500,000 to finance the production of said prototype in the coming fall.

Trump wishes to create a wall running the entire 3,200 kilometers separating the two countries, in order to prevent passage of migrants from Mexico into the US, who he says take jobs out of American hands.

After Trump cited Israel’s wall built along its southern border with Egypt as a success story in stopping illegal migrants from entering the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his support for the US border wall project. Netanyahu’s reply got him into some hot water with both Mexico and members of his own coalition, who pleaded with him to stay out of the controversial issue.

The project is estimated to become one of the world’s largest security infrastructure undertakings, with its cost to run anywhere from 15 to 25 billion dollars.

The American government has so far earmarked 3 billion dollars for the project in its 2018 budget, of which a billion will go to the smart border systems included in the tender, which are supposed to include advanced radars for both person and vehicle identification. Radars of this type are already manufactured by Elta and sold to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, as well as to other international clients.

Elta North America works out of Maryland and manufactures radar systems and components for branches of the American military, as well as radar components that the Israeli Ministry of Defense purchases using funding it receives from the US for Israel’s security. The security package does stipulate, however, that Israel must purchase equipment intended to fortify its security from that has been manufactured in the US—a fact that allows Israel to purchase Elta’s products, despite the company being a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industries.

Elta employs 50 people and is expected to double its manpower in the coming years. It also operates in cyber and has opened a training and instruction center for cyber professionals working for both governmental and private organizations.

Elta’s Israeli headquarters are located in Ashdod, where it manufactures radar systems for Arrow missiles, the Iron Dome system, espionage and fighter jets.

The company is also in the running to supply additional long-range radars to South Korea, which has already purchased the “Green Pine” radar used in the Arrow missiles from Elta. South Korea is interested in purchasing radar systems to beef up its deterrent array in light of rising tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Elta isn’t the first Israeli company to be considered a participant in Trump’s ambitious project. Late last year, Magal Security Systems—which builds high-tech fences and walls—was also considered a shoo-in for the project.

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‘They don’t even try’: Hungary’s new border fence called ‘spectacular success’

(WORLD TRIBUNE) — by WorldTribune Staff, May 2, 2017

Skeptics who believe a border wall will not stop illegals from entering the United States may want to look at what’s happening in Hungary.

On the day its border fence was completed, the influx of illegals entering Hungary went down from 6,353 one day to 870 the next. For the remainder of that month, illegal border crossings were steadily below 40 per day, officials said.
Border patrols prevent dozens of crossings every day and catch migrants who make it into Hungary within the first few miles of the border, according to authorities. /Reuters

“They don’t even try,” a local border guard told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We haven’t had a Syrian in six months.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s pledge to stop illegals from flowing into the country appears to be a spectacular success.

Hungary’s 96-mile long, 14-foot tall double-line fence includes several layers of razor-wire capable of delivering electric shocks. The barrier features cameras, heat sensors and loudspeakers ready to tell migrants they’re about to break Hungarian law if they as much as touch the fence, the April 30 Daily Caller report said.

Nearly every police officer in Hungary is part of a rotation to monitor the border fence at all times. Temporary military bases house the police while they do their rotation.

Additionally, Hungary will train and pay more than 1,000 volunteers to deploy as “border hunters”.

Illegals who are caught are arrested and dropped off on the Serbian side of the fence. They don’t get a chance to apply for asylum unless they do so at a “transit zone” where they are held in housing containers while their cases get processed, the Daily Caller report said.

In September 2015, thousands of migrants streamed across the border every day as they made their way north to Austria, Germany and Scandinavia.

“It was an invasion,” Laszlo Toroczkai, the mayor of Asotthalom, told the Daily Caller. “Illegal immigration is a crime in a normal country. It’s not a normal thing to break into a country.”

“By the mid-year it was well beyond 100,000 people who came across,” said Zoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for the Hungarian government. “You should at least have the ability to handle what’s going on.”

Kovacs added: “You might not like it, it’s not a nice thing, but … the only way to stop illegal border crossings is [to] first build a fence, man it, equip it, and also, in parallel, build up your capabilities in terms of legal confines, legal circumstances to be able to handle what is coming.”

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Turkey has completed more than half of its Syria border wall

(WORLD TRIBUNE) — by World Tribune Staff, February 27, 2017

Turkey has finished construction on more than half of its 511-kilometer (317 miles) security wall along its border with Syria.

The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons.

“The construction works are ongoing and we will complete it as soon as possible,” said Ergun Turan, president of Turkey’s state-owned housing agency TOKI.

Turkey shares a 900-kilometer (559 miles) border with Syria. Turkey has taken in more than 3 million Syrian refugees since conflict in the neighboring country erupted.

Ankara has been under pressure from the United States and Europe to seal its porous southern border, which has been used by the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadist groups for smuggling weapons, supplies and fighters. After a military intervention into northern Syria in August, the Turkish military and allied rebel groups cleared ISIS from a section of the border.

Seeking to stem migration to Europe, the EU has remained largely silent about the wall’s impact on refugees.

Turan said 290 kilometers (180 miles) of wall is finished. The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons. The blocks are 2-meters thick (6.5-foot) at the base and 3-meters (10-foot) high, topped by a meter of razor wire. Along the entire wall roads are being built for military patrols and watch towers are being erected.

The completed section covers the provinces of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Sirnak.

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Violence in Mexico hits 20-year high

(OCCRP) — Mexico witnessed a record-breaking number of homicides and murder investigations in May, according to government data.

Last month, 2,186 murders were committed surpassing 2011’s record, statistics that go back two decades show.

The number of murder investigations also peaked in May dating back to 1997. Several probes likely include multiple homicides.

“Pretty grim. Not shocking, because we’ve seen this for months,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

Mexico recorded 9,916 murders since the beginning of 2017, roughly a 30% increase over the same period last year, underscoring the country’s struggle to deal with escalating organized crime groups.

The deadliest state was Guerrero, in the south, a hotbed for Mexico’s war on drugs where 216 people were killed.

In the western state of Sinaloa 154 people were killed – the highest number in six years -due to violence driven by rival groups vying to fill the void left by the arrest and extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexico launched a militarized offensive to fight drug trafficking in 2006. Since then, over 200,000 people have been presumed dead or missing as rival cartels wage war on each other and the army.

The country’s escalating violence has hit journalists especially hard claiming most recently the life of well-respected drug trafficking reporter, Javier Valdez Cardenas.

The ensuing conflict has further damaged President Enrique Pena Nieto’s popularity.

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Women kicked out organized crime in this Mexican town

(MY SAN ANTONIO) — More than 180,000 people have been killed in Mexico since then-President Felipe Calderon sent the army to fight organized crime groups in his native state of Michoacan in 2006.

But one small town in that state says it hasn’t had a homicide since 2011 because its residents – led by women – took up arms to kick out groups who had expanded from drug trafficking into illegal logging.

While overall in Michoacán, federal authorities say 614 people have been killed this year, a 16 percent increase from 2016, the people of Cherán say they’ve become immune to serious crime. They expelled the politicians and local police, and community members now patrol the area wearing uniforms emblazoned with the slogan “For Justice, Security and the Restoration of Our Territory.”

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Journalist’s murder underscores growing threat in Mexico

(BREITBART) — MEXICO CITY — The staff of the weekly newspaper Riodoce normally meets on Wednesdays to review its plans for coverage of the most recent mayhem wrought in Sinaloa state by organized crime, corrupt officials and ceaseless drug wars. But on this day, in the shadow of their own tragedy, they’ve come together to talk about security.

It’s important to change their routines, they are told. Be more careful with social media. Don’t leave colleagues alone in the office at night. Two senior journalists discuss what feels safer: to take their children with them to the office, which was the target of a grenade attack in 2009, or to leave them at home.

Security experts have written three words on a blackboard at the front of the room: adversaries, neutrals, allies. They ask the reporters to suggest names for each column — no proof is needed, perceptions and gut feelings are enough

Allies are crucial. In an emergency, they would need a friend, a lawyer, an activist to call.

The longest list, by far, is enemies. There are drug traffickers, politicians, business people, journalists suspected of being on the payroll of the government or the cartels, a catalog of villains who make the job of covering Mexico’s chaos perilous.

There is no respite from the violence, and as bodies pile up across the country, more and more of them are journalists: at least 25 since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, with at least seven dead in seven states so far this year. A total of 589 have been placed under federal protection after attacks and threats.

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