I love you to death
Fisgon’s cartoon in this Thursday’s Jornada depends on a pun (amamos — “we’re in love with” and armamos — “we have armed”), which perhaps doesn’t come through to English speakers — which is rather gentle, considering the outrage “Fast and Furious” has generated in this country, which feeds into the already common perception that the Calderón administration’s “war” on organized crime is not directed at organized criminals in general, but at those organized criminals who oppose the so-called Sinaloa cartel.
The botched investigation into gun-running is an extremely serious matter. With attempts in the United States to redefine Mexican gangsters as “terrorists,” it might even be argued that, if the Mexican government wasn’t informed of this action, then the United States was — intentionally or not — arming terrorists. If the Mexican government was informed, it might be charitably labeled “unintentional state-sponsored terrorism”.
As you see, even hedging my words, it’s impossible to speak of Fast and Furious without giving it a polemical framing. But whose frame should we use? Most of the commentary in the English-speaking media about Fast and Furious is from the extreme right. Like any issue involving Mexico. there is are those who would turn this into an immigration (or rather, anti-immigration) debate, but more commonly, I’ve seen discussions meant not just to denigrate the Obama Administration, but — perhaps more significantly — to discredit any form of firearms control.
This comment on a World Net Daily article (which mostly dealt with reaction by Larry Pratt, president of Gun Owner’s of America — a group which finds the better known National Rifle Association too “liberal” — to testimony before a congressional committee) is not uncommon among those taking an interest in this scandal:
Why was the BATFE [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives... generally known as "ATF"] allegedly working on trying to identify and prosecute drug criminals in Mexico? What authority or jurisdiction could we possibly have in such activities? Secure the border, enforce our own drug and firearms laws, and to h**l with Mexico. This was either one of the most incompetent Keystone Kop operations in history, or it in reality was an attempt by the administration to try to create false evidence of American firearms going to Mexican drug cartels as an excuse for creating even more worthless laws and regulations that infringe our Second Amendment rights.
Apparently quoting from another rightist source, a commentator on Free Republic writes:
This is the work of fascists, which is exactly what Obama is.Obama is organizing a 5th column army of revolutionistas on our borders and INSIDE our country. And he has acted to keep Arizona from interfering. We now can see the outlines of the Obama plan to destabilize the border states and several RED STATES with conservative governments.This is war against the people of the United States. This is an impeachable offence committed by Holder and the so called president of the United States.
It is hard to believe that .50 cal Barrett rifles were among the weapons sold to the Salino Drug cartel.HORRIBLE.
“Salino Drug cartel”? … probably the Sinaloa Cartel, said by Mexicans — and by some in the United States — to be the government’s preferred illegal agricultural exporter. INsight Crime (funded in part by the Open Society Foundations, which is George Soros’ charities, which, in the minds of the far right means they’re a bunch of commies) mentions that the ATF agent in Mexico City did say “We armed the [Sinaloa] cartel. It is disgusting.” Both statements (arming and disgusting) are perfectly true, but whether that rises to a conspiracy, rather than bone-headed stupidity, is another story.
Despite the best efforts of the Calderón Administration (and Malcolm Beith) to claim otherwise, the body count in the administration’s “war on drugs” has noticeably light on Sinaloans. Anibal Hernandez, in Los Señores del narco, claimed Chapo Guzmán’s ties to the government go back to at least the Fox Administration, giving weight to what had been a common assumption by the Mexican left. And, it’s a historical fact that in Sinaloa, the narcotics trade has always had a tacit, and sometimes open, relationship with political authorities on the state and/or national level.
My sense is that “Fast and Furious” was an equal-opportunity fuck-up: weapons ended up on the gangster “free market”, and the Sinaloans were as likely as buyers as anyone else. And, if one accepts the reasoning of the Mexican left, the Sinaloans were more likely buyers than any of their competitors, facing less hurdles in acquiring the “tools of the trade” than those more likely to be harassed by the government.
And, with the U.S. “loving” narcotics AND arming some of the more successful (and seemingly government approved) suppliers, one can understand how Uncle Sam’s rather bashful courtship of the Mexicans might be poorly received.