Mexico News Aug.11
Posted by The Generals on August 13, 2011, 9:59 am
Subject: Mexico News WEEKLY August 11, 2011 |
Weekly Report - 11 August 2011 (WR-11-32)
MEXICO: Extent of US role in Mexico under spotlight
The Mexican government admitted on 7 August that US federal agencies had stepped up their “cooperation” in the war against the drug-trafficking gangs. On 9 August President Barack Obama stressed that the help the US is providing is “technical” and that there were no US officials “controlling” operations in Mexico. This is slightly different from the Mexican line which is that there are no US agents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “deployed on operations” in Mexico.
What the US is actually doing in Mexico has huge political implications. The left-wing Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) has called for both the interior minister and the foreign minister to testify to congress on the issue. The PRD’s president, Jesús Zambrano, claimed that the federal government wants to “Colombianise” Mexico, which he said should not be allowed. Zambrano accused the federal government of being evasive over what exactly the US officials are doing.
Armando Ríos Piter, the leader of the PRD in the lower chamber of congress said that it was shameful that the news of the US’s greater involvement leaked out through a foreign newspaper (the New York Times). He said that the Mexican government was being far from transparent about the infringement of sovereignty.
Another important critic of the US deployment is Javier Sicilia, a Roman Catholic poet who leads an NGO, Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad. He called on the government to explain exactly what the US personnel are dong in Mexico. Sicilia endorsed Zambrano’s call for ministers to testify to congress. Sicilia said that he was opposed to any US involvement in the war against organised crime which was being fought in Mexico. He said that the presence of CIA or DEA personnel was “illegal” and “inadmissible”.
Sicilia has become an increasingly prominent representative of middle class Mexico which is alarmed by the government’s failure to win its self-declared war against the gangs. He is important because he has met President Felipe Calderón three times since his son, Juan Francisco, was killed with six other youngsters in Morelos at the end of March 2011. Sicilia argues that Calderón’s strategy of using the army to support the police against the gangs is wrong and that the US involvement is humiliating for the army. Sicilia has called for a silent march in Mexico City on 14 August to protest against Calderón’s anti-gang policies. The march is scheduled to start from the Anthropology Museum and go past Los Pinos (where Calderón lives) before ending up at the senate, where marchers will drop pairs of shoes, representing the lives lost since Calderón declared his war against the gangs. The stunt is clearly modelled on one of Auschwitz’s most poignant relics: the heaps of shoes left by those gassed at the Death Camp by the Nazis.
On 4 August, before the news broke of the increased US involvement in Mexico, Sicilia accused the government and the legislature of bad faith and declared his dialogue with them broken. Sicilia claimed that the legislature’s plan to approve a new national security law, without even a debate about human rights, was evidence that he had been tricked (by the lower house standing committee). Sicilia wanted human rights experts to debate with legislators over particular details of the law. The senate has approved the law and the standing committee signalled that the house would also do so, even though there has yet to be a detailed article by article debate on the bill.
So far, only Alejandro Poiré, the technical secretary of the Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Pública, has commented for the Mexican government on the report in the New York Times. The NYT reported that “fewer than 24” CIA, DEA and retired military personnel from the US’s Northern Command had been deployed in Mexico in the “past few weeks”. The NYT also reported that the US is considering whether to deploy contractors in Mexico.
The dispatch of advisers is the traditional way the US starts large scale commitments: in both Vietnam and Colombia, US “advisers” arrived before troops (in Vietnam’s case) and large amounts of kit and training were delivered under Plan Colombia, which started in 1998. Plan Colombia helped President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) drive the narco-guerrilla Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) back to the margins of that country.
In an interview with Hispanic media on 9 August, President Obama stressed that the US had no plans to expand its involvement in Mexico beyond the technical assistance role it was currently fulfilling. He said that since he took office in 2009, the US had always been committed to providing Mexico with the support it needed for its battle against drug traffickers. President Obama insisted that, until now, this aid was limited to technical assistance and was always under Mexican control.
Poiré refused to confirm or deny that CIA and Pentagon personnel were deployed in Mexico but stated that no US official was involved in “operational work” and that none were armed while on Mexican territory. A bullish comment from the Mexican ambassador to the US, Arturo Sarukhán, hailing what he called “a sea change… over the past years in how effective Mexico and US intelligence exchanges have become”, suggests that US involvement in Mexico is increasing.
There is also clear evidence that the NYT story had been leaked: the location of the base in northern Mexico from which the US personnel were operating was not given by the NYT for “security reasons”. As the US deployment appears to be in reaction to what has been happening in Monterrey, Nuevo León, where gang killings have increased this year to 1,103 (to 5 August), the US personnel are likely to be based at the headquarters of Mexico’s Seventh Military Zone in Escobedo, just outside Monterrey. In the whole of 2010, 610 people were killed by gangsters in Nuevo León.
The NYT stressed the caution with which the US was approaching its Mexican deployment. According to the report, the US wants to prevent its advanced surveillance technology from being acquired by Mexican security agencies with what the NYT says are “long histories of corruption”. This concern is reflected in the different phrases used by Mexican and US officials: the US does not deny that its officials control the technology.
Before the deployment, the US had trained nearly 4,500 Mexican federal police officers and assisted in wiretaps, running informants and interrogating suspects. The Pentagon has also used unarmed surveillance drones across northern Mexico to locate and track major gangsters.
According to the NYT, US officials were heavily involved in managing the five-hour manhunt that culminated in the arrest of José Antonio Hernández Acosta, a gang leader (of La Linea), in Ciudad Juárez on 29 July. Hernández claims to have ordered the murder of 1,500 people, including three staff working at the US consulate in Ciudad Juárez, who were killed in March 2010.
Weekly Report - 11 August 2011 (WR-11-32)
MEXICO: Anarchists claim letter bomb attack
On 9 August a group called Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (ITS) claimed responsibility for a letter bomb that wounded two professors at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Itesm) campus in the Estado de México a day earlier.
The federal Procuraduría General de la República has warned all companies and institutions involved in nano-technology to tighten their security (the letter bomb was addressed to a nano technologist, Alejandro Aceves López, the professor of robotics at the Itesm campus in the Estado). It appears that a similar suspicious package was also found at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional Unidad Zacatenco, a public university, unlike the private Itesm. This package was addressed to the research director.
The authorities have recovered a partially burnt message inside the bomb package, signed by the ITS, which appears to be an anarchist group. From its communiqué, the group seems to be opposed to the development of artificial intelligence. In the message they also gave details of the explosives used and challenged the authorities to catch them.
The prosecutor for the Estado de México, Alfredo Castillo, said that the Mexican authorities had been in touch with Interpol to see whether the ITS has links to European groups with militant anti-technology views. These European groups may have offshoots in Chile, where local groups regularly bomb bank branches and cash machines. In 2008 there were similar attacks in Mexico against banks and fuel pipelines, but these were not claimed by the ITS.
Castillo added that last April the ITS sent a letter bomb to the head of nano-technology engineering at a state university, the Universidad Politécnica del Valle de México (UPVM), in Tultitlán, but on that occasion the device did not explode.
The presidential race for 2012 will start in October when each registered party holds primaries to nominate its candidate. This process has to be concluded by December. The campaign proper opens on 1 April and concludes with the elections on 1 July 2012. The new president will take office on 1 December 2012.
Weekly Report - 11 August 2011 (WR-11-32)
MEXICO | Banco de México cuts growth forecast. On 10 August the central bank reacted to the problems in the US economy by cutting its forecast for GDP growth in Mexico from its previous range of 4% to 5% to a range of between 3.8% and 4.8%. The bank said that it was likely that growth in the US would be weak because of the poor position of households, which is reflected in high unemployment and the fragility of the US housing market and the cautiousness of US companies over investment.
The bank also cut its forecast for GDP growth in 2012 to a range of 3.5% to 4.5% from its previous forecast of 3.8% to 4.8%. The bank also forecast that Mexican domestic demand would slow in the second half of this year. The bank said that it had not seen inflationary signs in the second quarter of 2011 and that it expected to see inflation continuing to fall. It is sticking to its inflation forecasts for 2011 and 2012 of 3%, with a one percentage point margin either way.
MEXICO | IFE appointment. On 10 August Alejandro Luna Ramos, the brother of a supreme court judge, Margarita Luna, was elected to head the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) for the next four years. This means that Luna Ramos will play a major role if there is an electoral dispute in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
The other key post is president of the Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación (Tepjf). The current president, María del Carmen Alanís, is standing again but she is rumoured to have fallen out with the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN).
Over the weekend of 6 and 7 August there was a triple killing in Oaxaca, where social unrest seethes. Three Triquis, belonging to the Movimiento Unificador de Lucha Triqui Independiente (Multi), were ambushed and killed. Multi and its main rival, the Unidad de Bienestar Social de la Región Triqui (Ubisort), have long been competing for control of tracts of Oaxaca. Ubisort was allegedly supported by the previous Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) government of Oaxaca.
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