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I’m rubber, you’re glue…

5 October 2008
Max Nuñez, Cuartoscuro.com (via The News)

Photo: Max Nuñez, Cuartoscuro.com (via The News)

The Calderon administration (and the foreign press) aren’t the only ones who were quick to blame the grenade attacks in Morelia on 15 September on los Zetas. Their rivals in mayhem, la Familia, the bible-toting meth distribution people, who dabble in such “good works” as killing kidnappers and warning about the dangers of cocaine use (go figure) fingered los Zetas (not known for bible-toting, though their activities do have their Old Testament echoes (especially the smiting and “vengence is mine” parts) say they didn’t do it — and, blaming la Familia, are offering a hefty reward for the head (or the head of the head) of la Familia.

I always thought things cost more in Cancun, but the banners there only offer a 500,000 dollar reward, while elsewhere they’re offering a cool five million bucks. The banners appeared all over the country, but not in Michoacan where you’d think that if the gangsters were really responsible you might find people who actually knew anything about the attacks.

The situation has its humorous aspects, to be sure (is anyone keeping a head count by gang?  Is Team Zeta, Team Familia or Team Chapo … ahem… a-head in the standings?), but in the back of my mind, I wonder if what’s going on isn’t somewhat similar to what happened in Colombia in 1992 when kidnapping victims went out and hired their own gangsters to hunt for the cocaine “kingpin” Pablo Escobar.  Escobar, like the Mexican gangsters (especially Chapo Guzman), built local support through charitable contributions to local communities, and seen by the establishment as a political threat, although they were willing to accept funding from him.  As here, it was kidnapping, not narcotics dealing that prodded the establishment media and leadership into action.

In 1992 “Los Pepes” (Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar — People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar) were either hitmen hired by wealthy victim’s families, or recruited by the Colombian government (and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency) to start bumping off Escobar’s people.  Or both.  Or, Escobar’s business rivals were in a strategic alliance with the government (as Mark Bowden’s “Killing Pablo” seems to suggest).

I’ve been expecting some extra-official anti-narco response (a nice way of saying “death squads”) to spring up.  Bowden suspected that Colombian police officers were involved with los Pepes — at the very least, giving them the information they needed to find their victims.  Given that the Fox Administration’s strategy was to weaken one gang at a time.  Fox, good businessman that he was, let predatory capitalism at its most predatory, weaken the gangsters.  The Calderon administration has been more proactive and might very well be at least rooting for one gang or another, hoping to create dissention and open warfare between the groups.

Of course, there is no evidence as of yet that the Morelia attack had anything to do with narcotics gangs, but given both the Calderon Administration’s inherent legitimacy problem and their willingness to resort of force against non-conformists, AND the multi-billion dollar Merida Iniative’s modelling on “Plan Colombia”, it’s not unreasonable to speculate on possible Federal Government motives for involvement in the grenade attack.

(After writing the above, I read John Ross’ “Massacre in Morelia” in Counterpunch.  Ross quotes an anonomous Mexico City detective as saying; “You terrorize the people into thinking only you can protect them.  A lot of the cuates (buddies) who I’m talking to say it’s the government that did this.”)

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