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All men are not created equal… some are right-fielders

29 July 2015

200px-Monte_Irvin_1953It was the first time in my life that I felt free. We could go anywhere we wanted, eat anywhere we wanted, do anything we wanted and not have to worry about anything. We just had a wonderful time and I owe that experience to Jorge Pasquel.

 

“The Untold Story of How Mexico Pushed Baseball Towards Integration”,  Cesár Gónzales, Remezcla, 28 July 2015.

Our incredible shirking presidente

28 July 2015

Peña Nieto’s magical thinking is that things will go away if you don’t talk about them. He’s wrong.

Jorge Ramos in Fusion on “Mexico’s paralyzed president

[…]

Three crises have marked Peña Nieto’s presidency: the massacre of the Ayotzinapa students; the accusations of corruption about the house that his wife bought from a government contractor; and the escape of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera. In all three cases, Peña Nieto has shrunk – and refused to face the music.

It’s a very peculiar style of governing. Instead of handling a crisis, he hides. Instead of looking for solutions, he makes excuses. Instead of acting as a leader and assuming responsibility, he sends others to speak on his behalf.

[…]

Peña Nieto’s magical thinking is that things will go away if you don’t talk about them. He’s wrong. He doesn’t like to talk about the drug-related violence, but since he took office, more than 40,000 Mexicans have been killed, according to official data. Peña Nieto and his advisors think they are back in 1968 or 1988, when leaders were able to hide reality by keeping silence or censoring the media. That’s not the case anymore. The social media overwhelm them, and courageous Mexican journalists denounce abuses. And the international media won’t let the leaders lie.

The least we can ask from a president is to preside, to be accountable and not to hide. Facing a series of crises in Mexico, Peña Nieto has been a paralyzed president – almost irrelevant.

A boy’s best friend is his mother

27 July 2015

Apologies (one more) to Marty Robbins

22 July 2015

 

So Trump will go walking the streets of Lardo

Trump will go touring the streets of Lardo

This Thursday we’ll see him sportin’ his rug

Perched like a dead possum on top of his mug.

 

Oh come all you crazies and TEA party loons

For The Donald himself will be singing his tunes

On how the Mes’cans are all out to kill us

And rape us, and otherwise kick up a fuss

 

You’ll know by the outfit that turns out to cheer him

That anyone sane from Laredo will know his a flim-

flan man from New York, and though it’ll be YUUUGE

That he’s just a pendejo with nothing but bilge…

 

(and so on, and so forth)

 

 

 

 

If you need him, set him free? Chapo Guzmán at large

20 July 2015

According to Proceso … a generally reliable source on the narco-“war”… two anonymous U.S. government sources are claiming that Chapo was NOT arrested in Mazatlán by Mexican marines on 22 February 2014, but by U.S. Marshals and D.E.A. agents wearing Mexican Marine uniforms.

The Few, the Proud... but not Marines

The Few, the Proud… but not Marines

Co-incidentally, Chapo was picked up (in a beachfront condo) three days after Barack Obama and Stephen Harper had met with Enrique Peña Nieto in a less-than-successful “Tres Amigos Summit”.  The trip came

… at complex time for Mr. Peña Nieto, whose star is shining brighter abroad than it is at home. Legislators recently have approved broad changes to Mexico’s education system, tax system and antitrust regulation. Most important, they agreed to open up the country’s closed energy industry, raising the prospect of foreign investment in Mexican oil and gas for the first time in 75 years. But ordinary Mexicans have yet to see many benefits. The economy grew only an estimated 1.3 percent last year.

On security, Mr. Peña Nieto has pulled back from his predecessor’s close cooperation with the United States …

(New York Times, 18 February 2014, page A-3)

It could simply be that in cooperating closely with the United States, or, rather misdirecting the public on the expanded U.S. involvement in Mexico, the Peña Nieto administration was simply timing the arrest to distract from the widespread public disapproval of those “broad changes” that so enamored the foreign media.  Claiming the “arrest” (and I use quotes around arrest for a reason that will be clear shortly) was made by Mexican forces was perhaps meant to create an image of a competent administration that was rapidly cleaning up and “reforming” (another word that belongs in quotes) the economic system.

I don’t buy that.  The Tres Amigos summit… despite the happy talk on some minor issues (mostly cultural and academic exchanges, and customs regularization) was largely a non-event.  Especially for Mexico, where the summit was barely covered.  For the other two NAFTA partners, however, the summit did mean extensive coverage of Mexico and her ills… at a time when the U.S. Congress was waiting on the Department of Defense for its requests for the 2015 Federal Budget.  AND… during a time when the U.S. media (Huffington Post, Wall Steet Journal, Reuters, etc.) was reporting on bank involvement with money laundering for the “cartels” (yet another word belonging in quotes).

With the United States NOW claiming they wanted Chapo extradited one is left wondering why — if he was in their custody back in February 2014 — he wasn’t taken to the United States and put before any of the federal judges who Capturehave issued warrants for his arrest.  It wouldn’t be the first time U.S. agents simply kidnapped a Mexican (or other) suspect — or, if it was a “rogue” operation, didn’t hold Chapo at some black site until he could be brought into court.  I would venture that either the U.S. budget or the banking scandal had more to do with it.  If the former, the Department of Defense and Homeland Security all had a vested interest in making it look as if “Plan Merida” … which, incidentally, had widely reported as a failure by the Mexican media in February 2014 (On the 19th… three days before Chapo was picked up, El Universal was reporting on U.S. doubts about the funding plan).

On the 13th of February, 2014, SIPSE reported on an agreement between Osario Chong and Janet Napolitano to commit 900 million dollars to “security” for Mexico. This money doesn’t go to Mexico, but to US businesses and bureaucracies supposedly assisting Mexican law enforcement. That alone makes me wonder if the U.S. Marshals and the DEA agents weren’t basically justifying the expense in anticipation of a budget fight in Congress, by creating a success for the Mexicans in the “drug war”.

And what is more spectacular than arresting the alleged “kingpin” of Mexican narcotics exports?  Try to overlook the fact that the guy was not exactly in hiding, but staying in a low-key resort hotel with his family (ok, and a few bodyguards).  It sounded then, and sounds even more now, less like a capture or arrest, than an arrangement.  With allegations of Chapo’s involvement with the C.I.A. generally come from the less “respectable” news sources (and a few totally unreliable ones like Alex Jones) one should be dubious of claims that Chapo was a player (or a pawn) in some deep conspiracy within the government, but I am hardly the first person to notice that during the worst of the “drug war”, the only Sinaloa Cartel people being captured (or killed) were rivals to Chapo’s continued control of the loose federation of gangs, and that those being killed without benefit of trial were generally former allies who had for one reason or another become rivals.  All too convenient.

AND THEN… THERE WAS THE GREAT ESCAPE on the 11th of this month.  The story about a secret tunnel is interesting (and amusing) in a way, and which individuals assisted in the escape (and whether it was actually an escape, or just an unauthorized release) are all of secondary interest to the question of what now… and why now?

CaptureBy February of this year, it was obvious that arresting Chapo solved nothing, and even made narcotics exports to the US and beyond a more serious problem (for the consumer countries, anyway).  As El Economista suggested last Friday in their article on probable consolidation in the narcotics biz now that Chapo is free to run his organization, there is every indication that violence outside of gangsterdom would drop.  That is, the Sinaloans will increase their … uh… market penetration … and while “liquidating” their rival’s operations, it would also eliminate the rationale for various turf wars.  On the other hand, by claiming Chapo is the most dangerous man on the planet, the hunt for him justifies the massive increase in military spending here in Mexico, which has the U.S. Army absolutely giddy at the prospects.  A win for them.

Do I think there’s a “conspiracy” to keep Chapo free?  Not really… just that the major consumer nation’s heavy investment in Chapo, to the extreme of covert operations within the country, do raise the question of whether the U.S. … and the Mexican government… really knows whether or not it wants Señor Guzmán dead or alive.

Sr. Guzmán has left the building

13 July 2015

The story being given out — that somehow someone managed to dig a 1.5 Km tunnel (just under a mile) from outside Altaplano Prison into Chapo’s shower… UNDETECTED — is shall we say, an unprecedented opportunity for Mexicans to indulge in mordant humor?

CaptureEven His Excellency, Bishop Raúl Vera, has turned stand-up comic, suggesting the country build a monument to Chapo… who by his escape has shown the world how very corrupt both the penitentiary system and the “high echelons of power” are in this country.

It’s hard to believe, and it appears almost none of those who make their living following the narco-biz, do believe the official story.  Under the jokes there is the sense that the “great escape” is the final straw in any belief that the present administration is competent to deal with national issues.

Bishop Vera, and most commentators see Chapo’s disappearing act as an obvious sign that he has the money and resources to “corrupt” anyone.  No doubt he does, and no doubt that is an issue that needs to be addressed.  But is it simply “corruption”?

There are those who think the government (ours, or that of the United States) may have preferred Chapo to return to his role as “first among equals” and mediator of the various enterprises known as the Sinaloa Cartel.  For the Mexican government, which is reluctantly in the “drug war” business, an organized export system is less harmful than the disorganized (and deadly) system in which rival gangs fight over export routes.

And for the United States? Besides allowing the U.S. government to justify intervention in Mexico under the guise of “assistance”, there are other advantages for them if Chapo is out of prison. In some ways, having a clear “chain-of-command” makes life easier for U.S. law enforcement types.  As Paul Imeson mentions in his forthcoming book Blood and Betrayal (Montezuma Books, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-937799-96-0), the “cartels” are more or less a fiction, being simply various gangs that co-operate in various criminal activities.  The fiction of a “cartel” makes it possible to create operations charts and to rank various criminal bands in a hierarchy, thus simplifying resource allocation (and justifying expenses for anti-drug bureaucracies).

And, it should be pointed out that Chapo out of prison is less a threat to powerful interests than Chapo would be in prison.   Lydia Cacho , for one, addresses the meme being floated (mostly by foreigners. as far as I can tell) that Chapo should have been extradited to the United States… supposedly the land of inescapable prisons (I guess because they’re run by private corporations, the government might demand a refund for escapees).  Given the huge reluctance of U.S. prosecutors to look into the financial institutions that handle Chapo’s earnings (U.S. and British banks, for the most part), and their determination not to seriously pursue criminal charges against bankers, there is no reason to presume that Chapo, in the U.S. would be tried in a court, where he might mention these matters.  I think it highly likely, that in US custody, Chapo’s fate would be that of Vicente Zambada Niebla. Zambada Nieba, son of Chapo’s closest associate (or possible rival), “El Mayo”, Ismael Zambada García, was “disappeared” into the U.S. prison system after he started to talk about the U.S. banking and DEA cooperation with the “cartel” in open court. I don’t think it is so much Chapo feared extradition to the U.S. as U.S. prosecutors feared Chapo.

At any rate, my thinking is that Chapo by now is back in the Sinaloan hill country. While I might not like his business, give the devil his due. USAnians positively want (or need) the products supplied by Chapo and his associates, and USAnians have always admired those poor boys who make themselves rich supplying their consumer needs, and tend to overlook what it took to get rich. Sure, Andrew Carniege and John D. Rockefeller had the “law” on their side when massacres were carried out to further their business interests, and Minor Keith didn’t build the United Fruit Company by anything other than corrupting officials and killing those in their way… they have their monuments.  Perhaps Chapo does, too.

 

10 July 2015

taxi-electrico

Not only are Mexico City taxis hot pink and white, now at least some of them are electric…

The first twenty electric Nissans go into service today.

Although the rates are the same as other taxis, there is another difference, these taxis part of the district’s “Servicio de Transporte Eléctricos” which also operates the trolley system, so the electric taxis will only be running the same hours as the trolleys:  5:30 AM to 11:30 PM.

 

 

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