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Why Michoacan?

27 May 2009

As usual, when Mexico makes the international papers, it’s all narcos all the time (ok, flu once in a while).

Ten Mayors Arrested, etc:” (this quote happens to be from Tracy Wilkerson of the LA Times… one of the few newspapers that still have foreign correspondents):

Mexican security forces swept into President Felipe Calderon’s home state of Michoacan on Tuesday and arrested a total of 27 mayors and other government officials, the largest operation to target politicians in Mexico’s bloody drug war.

The officials, including 10 mayors, are being investigated for alleged ties to drug traffickers and other organized crime syndicates that in effect control large sections of Michoacan, the federal attorney general’s office said.

Mexican commentators are wondering about both the timing of the arrests (this is the campaign season, with elections the first weekend in July) and why Michoacan has been singled out, when the nexis of narco activity has been in the northern tier of states.

Michoacan, despite being the birthplace of Felipe Calderon,  is better known for its leftist politics (Lazaro Cardenas — a combination of Franklin Roosevelt and Hugo Chavez in Mexican history — began his political career here, as did his son, Cuauhtemoc) and — being Puripechan, not Nahuatl — has been out of the mainstream since the days of Tenotitchtlan.  Even its gangsters  have not been “normal” ones — having a decidedly “moral” mission statement for their core business of   meth-making, marijuana selling and head chopping.

The same might also be said of Zacatecas — a left-leaning state that suddenly is the focus of Federal criminal investigation, though its crime syndicates are more traditional business organziations than Michoacan’s “la Familia”.

This is not Chapo Guzman territory, which is why the questions are being asked.  La Familia has been in a turf war with the Gulf Cartel, both organizations also rivals of the Sinaloa group run by Guzman.  Since Chapo is the “most wanted” of the various gangster leaders, the questions being asked are why the Federal Government is making splashy arrests in connection with the less important organizations {which benefits Chapo) while not making much headway in bringing down the Sinaloans.  Even the Roman Catholic Church recently complained about Chapo’s relative freedom in the north, which was poo-pooed by the Federal authorities.

Add the recently news-worthy attacks on Santa Muerte shrines (while ignorning the Sinaloans’ favorite santone, Jesus Malverde), PAN’s claims of PRI corruption in this election campaign, growing resistence to the “war on (some) drug (exporters)”, the need for the Calderon Administration to recover the support its been losing as the death toll mounts in that drug war — and more and more voters question whether its being used to cover attacks on dissenters …  AND it becomes very easy to see why so many Mexicans believe the Michoacan raids were not coincidental.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 28 May 2009 1:35 pm

    Fascinating. Thanks for providing some much-needed context for this story.

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