Everything You Need to Know About the Disappearance of 43 Students That’s Threatening to Tear Mexico Apart

An investigation by a Mexican magazine into the disappearance of 43 students in September suggests the country’s federal police had a hand in the horrific affair.

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Exiled Mexican Seeking Asylum Pedals for Justice

Carlos Gutierrez rolled into Austin Saturday after a 701-mile bicycle ride from El Paso. Austin was the final destination on his 12-day ride across Texas to raise awareness about Mexican asylum seekers.

News cameras crowded around an exhausted and emotional Gutierrez as he carefully stepped off his bike and looked around, searching the crowd for his father’s face. For the next few minutes, family members and supporters took turns hugging the 35-year old cyclist.

Just two years ago a ride like this would have been unthinkable. A successful businessman in Chihuahua, Gutierrez was targeted by cartel members who demanded monthly extortion payments of $10,000. When Gutierrez could no longer pay, cartel members cut off his feet and left him to die as an example to other business owners.

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On the Border, a Struggle Over Water

Drought is different along the border. Unlike Central Texas, which worries over its aquifers and its lakes, or East Texas, which jealously guards its mammoth reservoirs from booming cities, or the Panhandle, which is draining the Ogallala Aquifer, the border depends on a desert river that divides two nations.

South Texas has come to rely on the Rio Grande, but the river is drying up. Global climate change and prolonged drought, coupled with Mexico’s failure to deliver the water it’s supposed to under an international treaty, have taken a toll on the region’s water supply.

In a state that ranks third in total agricultural and livestock production in the nation, Texas farmers are worried. Crops may survive one year of scarce rainfall, but extended drought renders fields barren. Moreover, reduced snowpack in Colorado and New Mexico—which scientists link to climate change—means less water enters the Rio Grande upstream.

More than ever, the replenishing waters of Mexico’s Rio Conchos are crucial to reviving the Rio Grande and to saving farmers in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas politicians have taken to publicly denouncing Mexico and urging the U.S. government to force Mexico to deliver the water it’s supposed to.

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Heavy Cumbia: Q&A with Celso Piña

More than 30 years ago, Celso Piña introduced cumbia into Mexico and established his native Monterrey as the seat of the genre. In this millennium, the accordionist then revolutionized the popular Afro-Latin dance music and its cousin vallenato when he collaborated with acts like Mexican electro-rockers Cafe Tacuba to produce otherworldly fusions. “El Rebelde del Acordeón” remains in demand everywhere.

Much has changed over those decades. Piña’s made his mark on Europe, the U.S., and South America, but he can hardly play his hometown. After a stopover at South by Southwest (see “SXSW Live Shots,” March 18), he returns to Austin for Pachanga Fest. We spoke Spanish with the cumbia pioneer by phone to Monterrey.

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Retio Uses Social Media to Fight Drug War Corruption in Mexico

While Google chairman Eric Schmidt was declaring technology to be the solution to Mexico’s drug violence, two kids from Mexico were already expanding coverage of their citizen-sourced crime reporting app to the entire country.

After visiting Juarez in July, Schmidt suggested Google’s intelligence capabilities could be used to facilitate information-sharing about cartel activity among police and citizens. A great idea—and one that Mario Romero and Jose Antonio Bolio, two friends from Merida, Yucatan, had already started implementing with their free app, Retio.

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Mexican Agency to Offer Life Insurance for Migrants on the Perilous Journey North

Guerrero is a small state on the southwestern coast of Mexico where tourists travel each year to stay at popular beach resorts in Acapulco and Ixtapa. But the trip for migrants leaving Guerrero for the United States is anything but luxurious, often involving organized crime gangs, treacherous railways and the threat of kidnappings.

Guerrero’s newly created Office of the Secretary of Migrants and International Issues says it wants to help migrants. The state agency will offer life insurance policies for migrants making their way to the United States. The office is in talks with two banks to consider possible options and is planning to offer coverage for 500 migrants for one year in the pilot program.

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