Mexico News- Mar.11
Posted by The Generals on March 15, 2011, 9:08 am
Subject: Mexico News DAILY March 11, 2011 |
LatinNews Daily - 11 March 2011
US and Mexico row over ‘Fast & Furious
Development: On 10 March the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) concluded that the Mexican government did not know about the US arms-smuggling operation ‘Fast & Furious’.
Significance: The PGR’s finding was contradicted by the US embassy in Mexico City which released a statement in which the US Justice Secretary, Eric Holder, is quoted as telling the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee that the Mexican government did know about ‘Operation Fast & Furious’. This was an operation under which the US Bureau of Alcohol Firearms, Tobacco & Explosives (ATF) allowed assault rifles and other weapons to be smuggled to gangsters in Mexico. The idea was to track the weapons and so roll-up complete smuggling networks. According to at least one ATF official, however, the ATF lost track of most of the weapons. The PGR replied on 10 March that it noted what Holder had said to the senate subcommittee but that the government of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa “had not given, nor will give, authorisation, tacit or express, under any circumstances, to permit trafficking of this sort.”
• The Mexican government’s measured response to ‘Fast & Furious’ does not mean that the row will blow over. President Calderón appeared to ignore WikiLeaks’ publication of critical reports by the US embassy on his government’s security strategy, but let his feelings rip when he gave a rare interview in mid-February. On his recent trip to Washington to meet President Barack Obama on 3 March Calderón made it increasingly clear that he wanted the US ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, recalled for the critical State Department cables Pascual had signed which were subsequently published by WikiLeaks.
• In its statement, the PGR noted that both the Justice Department and the ATF were still investigating ‘Fast & Furious’. The PGR said that the Mexican government expected anyone found to have acted illegally to be punished with the full rigour of the law. This suggests that the Mexican government will only act if the US fails to. The PGR has also started its own investigation into ‘Fast & Furious’.
• US carelessness of Mexican sensibilities on ‘Fast & Furious’ were epitomised by William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the State Department, who gave an interview to Reforma, a Mexico City newspaper, published on 9 March, in which he forecast that when the full results were in from ‘Fast & Furious’ it would be shown to have been a success.
• What makes ‘Fast & Furious’ so contentious is that President Calderón had been pushing the US for years to do more to curb the flow of guns to Mexican gangs. For Mexico to find that the US was, if not encouraging, at least allowing, gangsters to arm themselves is extraordinary. The PGR in its statement claims that its understanding was that the US would not allow the deliberate and controlled trafficking of weapons on its territory.
Pointer: It’s hard to see what action President Calderón could take against the US to show his disapproval at ‘Fast & Furious’. Recalling the Mexican ambassador from Washington would seem to be far too serious and bring the whole issue (and history) of Mexican-US relations into the political forum, less than 16 months before the presidential elections. The ideal solution for Mexico would be that the US investigation into ‘Fast & Furious’ finds that the operation was not properly authorised and that senior officials in the US are punished.
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