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Five deaths in mariachi plaza shootout pose test for Mexico’s new government

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Five people died after a dramatic shootout at a famed Mexico City mariachi plaza, officials said on Saturday, the latest in a recent string of crimes in the capital that will soon put to the test the incoming government’s new tactics to fight violence.

At Plaza Garibaldi in the capital’s historic downtown on Friday night, gunmen said by witnesses to be dressed as mariachi musicians opened fire with pistols and rifles, injuring eight and sending onlookers running and screaming. The incident left three men and two women dead, city officials said.

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Homicides have surged since 2014 in Mexico City, an arts, food and culture hotspot for tourists from around the globe that has been spared much of the drug violence plaguing cartel strongholds, which has even hit resort towns Cancun, Los Cabos and Acapulco.

The capital is on track to register a record number of homicides this year, and reversing that trend is part of incoming President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s enormous challenge to stem crime and violence nationwide.

The former Mexico City mayor, who takes office Dec. 1, has vowed that new strategies under the city’s incoming mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, will be effective.

“I am sure they will resolve the problems that are being suffered in Mexico City … Claudia will restore peace,” he told local media on Saturday when asked about plans to halt violence in the capital.

Sheinbaum’s priorities are to stamp out police corruption and improve the implementation of a U.S.-style justice reform, she said in a recent interview.

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In contrast, the current government adopted an intense surveillance strategy in recent months, deploying low-flying helicopters meant to intimidate drug dealers and robbers.

Plaza Garibaldi borders Mexico City’s notorious Tepito neighborhood, home to La Union gang, which police say is behind a surge of drug-dealing and protection rackets.

The historic site is also blocks from one of Latin America’s largest public squares, where thousands will flock on Saturday night to see President Enrique Pena Nieto deliver the traditional cry of “Long Live Mexico!” to celebrate Independence Day.

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Similar festivities planned for two cities in Guerrero and another in Guanajuato were canceled due to recent violence, local media said.

Police blame much of the capital’s crime on retail drug dealing and protection rackets run by violent gangs, though the government says at least one of these has links to a national trafficking group, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

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Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump’s hearsay defense goes out the window as House Intel releases transcripts of two first-hand witnesses

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The House Intelligence Committee released two new transcripts on Saturday from first-hand witnesses who were on the line for President Donald Trup's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The transcripts are from the depositions of Deputy Assistant to the President Timothy Morrison and Vice President Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, Jennifer Williams.

The chairs of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees released a joint statement on the testimony.

"The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House. Both witnesses provided the Committees with first-hand accounts after personally listening to the call in the White House Situation Room," the chairs said.

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GOP’s impeachment ‘game plan’ fell apart after Trump’s Yovanovitch tweet and now they’re unsure how to defend him: Politico reporter

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On CNN Saturday, Politico's Melanie Zanona noted that President Donald Trump's decision to attack former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in a tweet while she was testifying to Congress not only risks another article of impeachment — it is also leaving his Republican allies unable to defend his behavior.

"Melanie, it's hard to know what all independent and undecided voters might be thinking, but I had a guest on earlier who made a powerful point, in that some voters might be looking at the pattern of how the president describes particularly powerful women, and he would call her bad news and she had such an esteemed reputation," said anchor Fredricka Wilson.

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‘Game over’ for Trump if Sondland confirms phone call revealed by David Holmes: ex-Watergate prosecutor

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Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, two veterans of the Watergate hearings that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon said the slow trickle of information coming out about Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings could lead to a sold case for his impeachment.

According to former prosecutor Nick Akerman, a lot could be riding on the testimony of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland who has been put in a precarious position after diplomat David Holmes said he overheard a conversation Sondland had with the president that would indicate the president was using foreign aid as a bribe for dirt on a political opponent.

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