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March 8 & 11, 2012 - from San Pedro, Mexico - Russia - Rome - China - Cape Town, South Africa

From our correspondents around the world....

Mauricio Fernandez Garza, mayor of the municipality of San Pedro, attends a ceremony to evaluate their police force in March, 2010. Fernandez Garza practises what some call vigilante justice, which he says keeps his city safe. (Photo: REUTERS/Tomas Bravo)

The Mexican mayor nobody messes with. Some who've tried to are dead. Vigilante justice maybe, but voters like it. 

Then, Putin's Kiss: the new documentary that reveals how the Kremlin uses the country's youth to police his political opponents.

Meanwhile, Italy is trying to shake up its economy by shaking up some of the most privileged people in the country. This could get interesting.

And, China's new literature of ambition.  Popular online novels preach self-promotion, at any cost.

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CBC correspondent Keith Boag has been reporting all week on drug-related violence in Mexico. (Photo: CBC)

A 'vigilante mayor' in Mexico

One of the most dangerous countries in Latin America is also home, oddly enough, to one of its safest neighbourhoods.

With vicious drug gangs ravaging much of the rest of Mexico, you have to wonder what's so special about the city of San Pedro, part of Greater Monterrey.

That's one of the questions CBC correspondent Keith Boag set out to answer in a series of stories he's been filing all week  about the insecurity in Mexico.

And for San Pedro, the key to peace seems to be the charming rogue in the Mayor's office who plays by own his disturbing rules.  

Keith's dispatch

To answer some of the questions that story raises, Keith joined Rick for a brief interview. Rick began by asking about the film Keith mentions, all about this mayor. What else does it reveal about him?

Rick's chat with Keith

Masha Drokova, an activist with the pro-Putin youth group, Nashi, meets Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the documentary Putin's Kiss, we watch Masha's disillusionment with Nashi and Putin. (Photo: Kino Lorber)

Putin's Kiss

Plus ca change in Russia, as Vladimir Putin settles in for six more years of cosmic presidential power.  

But unlike his last term in the job, there's a noisy little protest movement calling him out in the streets.  And that's a little different for a leader notoriously unfond of opposition. 

In some cases he lets his homegrown youth movement deal with it, kids in the organisation known as Nashi which stack Putin's rallies and bully his opponents off the streets when they try to hold their own.  

The Kremlin started it, critics say, after getting spooked by the youthful Orange Revolution that ousted the government of Ukraine eight years ago. 

But in Russia it seems, the kids are all right as long as they're promoting Putin.

Danish filmmaker Lise Birk-Pedersen profiles Nashi and its shadowy activites in a new documentary called Putin's Kiss. She spoke to Rick from Copenhagen.

Rick's interview with Lise Birk-Pedersen

Putin's Kiss will be showing at a human rights conference in The Hague on March 22nd, and at another in London, England on the 25th. 

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has introduced measures to crack open Italy's professional guilds, but has met with resistance. (Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

Afflicting the comfortable 
in Italy 

Italy wants to shore up its shaky finances and doesn't seem to mind who it offends.
Prime Minister Mario Monti's already introduced austerity measures, and now plans to re-set the country's economy, starting at the top. 

Mario Monti has the professional class in his sights.  In particular, the many guilds and associations that keep it comfortable and exclusive, but sap productivity, by keeping new blood out.

Not surprisingly, he's getting some resistance.  But Dispatches contributor Megan Williams found his efforts are resonating with a lot of people.

Megan's dispatch

The cover of Striking it Rich: Diary of China's Poorest Guy, by Lao Kang, a self-help-style bestseller in China.

What China reads

Regular listeners of CBC Radioare familiar with the annual literary event called Canada Reads. But here at Dispatches, we'd like to turn that on its head, and consider what China Reads. 
Because increasingly, it's something called, the workplace novel.

Journalist Leslie T. Chang recently wrote a piece for the New Yorker about a new kind of literature that fans ambition and aspiration, without much concern for morals and ethics. 

Leslie's a former China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and she joined Rick from her current base in Cairo.

Rick's interview with Leslie T. Chang

An excerpt from a Du Lala's Promotion Diary, an example of "workplace fiction"

Lionel is a "Beach Buddy" in Muizenberg, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. They're licensed versions of the ubiquitous "car guards", who are paid to watch over parked cars and guard against vandalism and theft. (Photo: Anders Kelto)

The View from the streets of Cape Town

Here's a very different kind of Horatio Alger story: how to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, in a South African parking lot.  

Listen to Anders' Kelto's View from Cape Town

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, Steve McNally. With technical producers Steve Russell and Greg Fleet. Senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae. 

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