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Attack in Morelia

16 September 2008

I don’t know any more about this than anyone else, but a few preliminary thoughts.

As everyone knows by now, someone threw a hand grenade into the crowd at Gov. Leonel Godoy’s Independence Day Grito, “killing at least seven people, injuring more than 100 others and casting a pall over a country that has experienced unprecedented levels of violence in recent months.”  Mark Lacey’s story in the New York Times was headlined “Revelers Killed in Mexican President’s Hometown” suggesting that the attack may have been upon Calderon.

That’s a possibility, but one that goes deeper than the “usual suspects” — narcotics traders.  Leonel Godoy is a major figure in the PRD-led opposition to the Calderon Administration, and Michoacan, like the Federal District, is a stronghold of the left.  Calderon was nowhere near Morelia, and — if the attack had a political angle, it was more likely an attack on Godoy and his administration than on Calderon.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of course, condemned the attacks, but several commentators in the Jornada article reporting on AMLO’s statement (Jornada being one of the few major media outlets that report on — and are sympathetic to — the “legitimate government”) suggest I’m not alone in seeing the attack as meant to intimidate the left.  La Voz de Michoacan quotes Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, Morelia’s Alcade saying “it would be stupid to write this off” as just organized crime responding to police pressure.

The immediate response from the Calderon administration has been of the “law n’ order” variety (as would be normal), although Don Felipe’s reference to the attackers as “enemies of Mexico” suggests that the event is already being framed as a political issue, requiring a political response.  Gangsters aren’t usually described in these terms. Guerrillas are… and there are armed resistance movements in Michoacan.

If it was gangsters… and the possibility exists that the mafias are upping the ante in response to the Calderon Administration’s focus on their activities to the exclusion of other national issues… a hand grenade in a public place is a new and troubling development.  The Michoacan Attorney General, Miguel García Hurtado, claims there is already a suspect. But, when there are politically inconvenient — or particularly embarrassing — crimes, it’s amazing how fast the suspects are identified and captured.

Since the weapon was a hand grenade, this is a federal crime, and federal investigators are involved.  Until we know the provenance of that grenade (from Mexican military stocks, stolen or smuggled in from the United States… and by whom), it’s going to be hard to say what the “meaning” of the attack was.

I’ve had a few discussions with a cyber-correspondent about the possiblity of “death squds” operating in Mexico.  The mass executions in the State of Mexico last week suggested to him military involvement… or paramilitaries operating on behalf of (or in cooperation with) gangsters.  In Colombia, upping the ante in the “war on (some) drugs” — as is being done here under the Calderon Administration and being supported by the United States under the “Merida Plan” also led to bomb attacks on civilian intitutions.  The Colombian state… which differed only in that the opposition to their questionable legitimacy was armed and had been in rebellion for a very long time — used the violence against civilians to justify its every action…. which has made it a very safe place (for some), but one with neither liberty nor justice.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    19 September 2008 12:26 am

    I am not Mexican… but I am deeply effected by the violent events taking place all over Mexico. As a fellow human I am appalled and saddened.

    I have many friends and loved ones in Mexico that want to effect change. They have started a movement to end the violence in a peaceful way. Here is their website:

    As Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

  2. 19 September 2008 10:58 am

    Simple: stop buying narcotics, stop selling guns and clean up the scandalous money laundering in the United States. Oh, and drop the agricultural subsidies that keep Mexican farmers from making an honest living.


  1. Global Voices Online » Mexico: Explosions in Morelia During Independence Day Celebrations
  2. Global Voices em Português » México: Explosões em Morelia Durante as Celebrações do Dia da Independência
  3. Deja vu all over again « The Mex Files

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