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Don Porfirio Calderón

24 January 2007

(I haven’t thought this through completely, and expect I’ll revise and maybe repost within a couple of days.) 


On the Rio Grande side of the river, the news out of the Calderón administration has been the decision to extradite a couple of narcos to the United States. On the Rio Bravo side, narcos are also what the administration is talking about. But the context seems to be different.


I’ve been wondering what Calderón was up to. The big anti-narco drive, while overdue, conveniently targets the areas where his political fortunes were the weakest. You’ll notice the big anti-drug push has avoided Jalisco, where his Secretaría de gobernacion, ex-Governor Francisco Ramírez Acuña has long been rumored to have ties to narcos. In that state, the only focus has been on PRD-controlled Acapulco. And, Tijuana, as everyone knows, is PRI-controlled.


Oaxaca, where the Feds went in for ostensively different reasons, voted overwhelmingly PRD. But, the PRI-installed governor, Ulises Ruiz, is supporting Calderón. Ruiz is supported by Calderón – or suports Calderón – and gets support for his claim to be in control of the state (Congress made noises about removing the Governor, which they can do if the state is out of control).


From a suprising souce (Mark-in-Mexico is in the hospital and I wish him well… but his temporary fill in is destroying his right-wing spin campaign, unless his hospitalization has made him see the light), it’s obvious how URO is maintaining control:


Two opposition political leaders have been assassinated in the past five days in Oaxaca state.On Thursday past, indigenous leader Roberto García was gunned down in San Juan Copala. García had just announced that his indigenous group would declare the town an “autonomous” zone.

The previous day, in Santo Domingo de Morelos, Pochutla, Oaxaca, Fructuoso Pedro García, was gunned down right in front of his wife. He had the day before announced his candidacy for municipal president. He was a member of the PRD.This news broke several days after the murder because, as allege his family members and political allies, Oaxaca Attorney General Lizbeth Caña sealed the area and released no information to the press, “to avoid the political implications and allow the murderers to escape.”


Lizbeth Caña, by the way, is the person who claimed Brad Will was killed by the APPO.

And a few other odd tidbits before I get to my point: 

Calderón has been holding a big anti-crime pow-wow at the Palacio Nacional … which led to URO, of all people, holding forth to the press on how important the rule of law was in a democracy… while outside this was going on:

The photo (from yesterday’s Jornada) is of a police crackdown on a pro-AMLO demonstration just outside the Palacio Nacional. Wouldn’t do to have demonstrators interfere with press conferences now, would it?

All of which sounds like something Porfirio Diaz would have done… “spin” internal crackdowns as anti-bandit campaigns.  And, throw a few bones to the gringos (like the narcos who were extradited) .  But Porfirio had 30 years to perfect his techniques and Calderón has six… if he’s lucky.

Every Mexican President tries to hit the ground running.  They’ve basically got two years to implement, two years to expand and two years to solidify their agenda.  Fox got sidetracked early in trying to do to much, and in depending on a much broader coalition than Calderón… Fox depended on the Social Democrats and Greens, then dissed the Greens (who switched their support to the PRI) and waited too long to try to coopt PRI dinasaurios like Esther Elba Gordillo and URO.

Calderón, for strategic reasons, starts off with his PRI third of the electorate, and already has a lot of the dinasaurios on his side.  The dinasaurios are, above all, pragmatic.  Any ties they might have had to the narcos were from a convergence of interests.  If destroying the narcos is the price of staying in power, they the narcos have to go. 

And it takes care of another problem.  Porfirio’s anti-banditry campaigns incidentally put down people’s uprisings, labor strikes, and kept the left from power… or, when he did have to resort to naked violence…was white-washed as evidence that the “bandits” were still out there.  It reasssured the Americans that their investments were safe (though it’s Americans that finance the narcotics industry in Mexico) and welcomed U.S. investors… as Calderón is certainly doing. 

I have to admit, I hadn’t thought of Calderón in terms of Porfirio until I read this article from a German paper (reprinted in “Monsters and Critics” U.K.), and remembered what it was Porfirio was up to all those years.  Inviting in U.S. funds, while looking for GERMAN technical expertise: 

While the leftist presidents of Nicaragua and Ecuador – led by Venezuela – turned away from the United States and actually courted Iran, Mexican President Felipe Calderon is seeking the solidarity of Europe.

Calderon is already very close to the US, having visited there before his December inauguration. His January 25-30 visit to Europe will include Germany, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Britain and Spain.

Mexico has had a free trade agreement with the EU since 2000, and the trip represents Calderon’s first journey outside of Latin America as president, where he has already paid official calls on El Salvador and Nicaragua.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU and the G-8 – and German President Horst Koehler are both scheduled to host the Mexican president on Thursday.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. el_longhorn permalink
    27 January 2007 8:52 pm

    Too early to tell. The anti-narco raids are encouraging, but I get the feeling Calderon is still feeling things out. N. Laredo has had a reprieve, but I hear it is just a reloading.


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