Mexico News-May 24
Posted by the Generals on May 27, 2011, 10:15 am
Subject: Mexico News DAILY May 24, 2011 |
LatinNews Daily - 24 May 2011
Mexican military starts to rumble
Development: The assassination of a key general, Jorge Juárez Loera, on 21 May, coupled with increasing signs of civil unrest in southern Mexico, is forcing the Mexican military further into politics.
Significance: Mexico has never had a military coup d’état and traditionally, governments have scrupulously avoided interfering in military affairs. The 2006 decision by President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa to deploy the army to fight drug trafficking gangs upset this balance, however. So far, the military have been deployed mostly in the north of the country; a strike by militant teachers in Oaxaca and increasing signs of social tension in other parts of southern Mexico suggest that the government may soon need the already heavily-stretched army to maintain order in the south as well as to fight the drug traffickers in the north.
• General Juárez Loera was Mexico’s third highest ranking general until he retired a fortnight ago. He was known to be close to senior figures in the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which, according to opinion polls, will recapture the presidency in the 2012 general elections. Juárez Loera was seeking a senate seat in next year’s vote: as he was a specialist in military intelligence and the war against organised crime, he would have had a major role in either congress or a PRI administration.
• Almost certainly, Juárez Loera was assassinated. He was shot twice at close range. Initial reports suggested that he might have been killed after being involved in a car accident since he was shot as he got out of his Mini Cooper to inspect the damage after it had been rammed from behind by another vehicle. He was not wearing military uniform. The two people who shot him escaped in different directions: one had a car waiting to pick him up.
• The military have notoriously difficult relations with Genaro García Luna, the minister of public security, who has been responsible for overhauling Mexico’s police forces. This process has taken far longer than the army and the government had expected. García Luna’s strategy was to withdraw the army as the newly-trained police were deployed. However, even García Luna now believes that the army cannot be withdrawn until 2014 or 2015.
• García Luna, who has been a fixture in the cabinet since President Calderón took office, is under increasing pressure from all sides. First, the radical Left tried to impeach him in congress; now, the nationalist Right is trying to force García Luna out over his decision to accept an honour from the Colombian government. Under the Mexican constitution a Mexican can forfeit his citizenship if he accepts a foreign decoration without having previously obtained approval to accept the accolade from the Mexican senate.
• The removal of García Luna would strengthen the influence of the military in the cabinet and, perhaps, force a change in the government’s strategy. The army is under pressure on three fronts: first, the deployment has increased the number of the people killed in the war against gangs. This demonstrates, the critics of the strategy claim, that the military deployment has been unsuccessful; the second criticism is that gangsters have corrupted the army as they have the Mexican police; and thirdly, a lot of those killed by the army and the police have had nothing to do with the gangs. This growing perception is opening up the army, especially, to criticism from human rights activists.
• What is going on in the south, traditionally an area of simmering social discontent, could lead to major problems for the federal government. The biggest problem here is a strike by 70,000 teachers, led by radicals, in Oaxaca. This is the same group that forced the previous federal government of Vicente Fox (2000-2006) to send in 6,000 Policía Federal Preventiva (preventative federal police) to regain control of the centre of Oaxaca City in November 2006.
• Furthermore, there are regular murders of prominent figures and political activists in the south. On 23 May Pedro Fons Ramos, the leader of the ranchers’ association in northern Chiapas, was murdered. He had just lodged a formal complaint about a robbery from his veterinary surgery.
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