Skip to content

Death squads and better business

28 June 2009

I don’t pay a lot of attention any more to the latest in gangster rub-outs.  But, one last 19 June in the tourist zone of Cancun might deserve closer scrutiny.  It appears the press were called before the police were told where to pick up the latest batch of dead gangsters.  As with other mob hits, there was a explanatory note… this one, left helpfully in the front windshield, read:

Somos el nuevo grupo de mata zetas y estamos en contra del secuestro y la extorsión, y vamos a luchar contra ellos en todos los estados, por un México más limpio.

We are a new group of Zeta-killers, opposed to kidnapping and extortion, and we are launching a struggle against them in all states, for a cleaner Mexico. 

Two things about the incident are troubling:

  • While the translation is somewhat clumsy (my fault), it is  in proper Spanish, and even the accent marks were in the right place.  The sentence would not be out of place in any Mexican business correspondence.  That alone suggests this wasn’t your ordinary gangland hit:  becoming a hit-man does not require much in the way of literacy, and this is the first “narco message” I’ve heard of that didn’t  require a fair bit of paraphrasing to edit.
  • The un-bylined story from SISPE-Novades reprinted in ChetuMail (an on-line Quintana Roo service) reports that — because of the presense of media (and by-standers) — the detectives from the State Prosecutor’s Office (PGJE)  towed the Jeep with the dead gangsters off to the forensics lab.  I can’t say for certain, but that sounds like there wasn’t any attempt to investigate the scene of the crime.

I won’t jump to conclusions but Blogotitlan — based on this incident, and a few other under-reported crime stories — will.  It’s a fairly long article, so my translation is after the break.

A few observations.  Although the Blogotitlan article is propaganda for the Lopez Obrador supporters, neither the idea of a death squad, nor the sense that the Calderón administration is creating the drug war for political reasons (and to hold on to power, in spite of others calls for major political and cultural changes) are fringe ideas.  Calderón’s claim that “democracy is at stake” in the “drug war” was for foreign, not domestic consumption… and has  to be seen in light of similar claims about Colombia, where support for the “war on drugs” was also sold to the U.S. as defense of democracy, but used to mask violent crackdowns  of opposition forces, economic and social repression and the systemic murder of labor leaders. Many in Mexico fear the same could happen (or is already starting to happen) here.

While others object to the “war on drugs” out of fears of Colombianization, or concern for human rights, still others note — as one Sinaloa business woman put it to me — and I paraphrase:  The narcos are local businessmen investing in the community creating local jobs.”   Another way of looking at that is the sense that the “war on drugs” is more a war on local entrepreneurship, for the benefit of the established (or PAN-approved) business interests.  Or so, their arguement goes.

And, so the  Blogotitlan article…

In the shadow of the “law of the jungle” imposed by the crusading gang[1] of Fox,  Calderón and Associates, it seems Cancún has spawned a death squad –the “Mata Zetas”– apparently with the with the mission of fighting kidnapping and extortion that roils the nation, and they have  started by cleansing a tourist site that has an enormous financial importance.

Don’t  forget that the “death squads” (always paramilitary, anti-communist and fanatical ethnic cleansers of all but the “best people”) invariably rise under protection of the most reactionary groups of the right, hidden behind the skirts of the Catholic hierarchy, business interests and the military … the same forces that create Latin American dictatorships.

In Mexico, these new self-appointed guardians of decency have suddenly (although there are clear antecedents for them in groups like MURO and el Yunque[2], as well as enthusiastic promoters of the concept in Chihuahua, Querétaro and Jalisco), decided to take advantage of a society fed up with government inefficiency, corruption, ineptitude and judicial impunity… but with ideological roots in the same government they claim to be fed up with.  Like the former “Illuminos Mexico”, an armed civil organization, aligned with the rightist government of the PRIAN[3] and sponsored by prominent key industrialists of the Mexican Kleptocracy.

The “Mata Zetas” tries to cover-up for the inefficiencies with the Federal Police (of [Public Security Secretary Genaro] Garcia Luna) and the PGR (of [Attorney General Eduardo] Media-Mora [Icaza]):  resorting to gunfire to saves time and energy otherwise spent on troublesome formal proceedings required by the Constitution and human rights charters instead of immediately executing those “the guardians” decide “decent people” — as defined by los Pinos — have condemned.

And there the animal shows the tail: with his inquisitorial mentality that does not tolerate dissent, it would not be surprising if the same “decent people” who are bankrupting Mexico, are financing, training and arming to these “militias of decency” which, under the pretext of fighting crime (something  Calderón also does), are especially dedicated to eliminating opponents:  those inconvenient to the regime, the millions of “nacos” and “pobretones” who continue to support the only truly nationalist politician:  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

What the administration has not been able to do through governmental, business or media channels, it can do through these paramilitary groups.

Our  suspicion is reinforced by the news that an assistant to a PANista regidor in Jalisco was detained in the United States trying to smuggle two millions dollars worth of various firearms into Mexico (Jornada, 17-06-09), seemingly to start another  “cristiada”[4].  And he is considered a “moderate” in the party.

PANistas gun runners, Jalisco mayors financed by “charitable souls” and tiny contributions[5], “Mata Zetas” applauded on television by Alejandro Martí, Nelson Vargas[6] and others offended by the kidnappings and extortion… all are united under the fascist slogan of former President Fox: “If the law prevents something, overturn the law”.

[1] “Santiguada PANdilla” – “santiaguada” is an adjective literally meaning “wearing a cross” – specifically the red cross on a white field worn by crusaders; “PANdilla” is, of course, a pun on the name of Fox and Calderón’s political affiliation.

[2] MURO, I don’t recognize offhand, but believe it was a Synarchist (fascist) underground group.  “El Yunque” – which may or may not be a formal organization – is a group of extreme right-wing businessmen, associated with reactionary wings of PAN and the Catholic Church.

[3] Blogotitlan is a pro-Lopez Obrador site.  “PRIAN” is used to suggest PRI and PAN are one and the same rightist bloc.

[4] The “cristiada” was the guerrilla war financed by the right against the Mexican state in the 1920s.  Centered in Jalisco and Michoacan, the “cristeros” – as reactionary religious terrorists — are often compared to Al Qaida.  To the right, and the present PAN administration in Jalisco, the cristeros are heroic, though attempts by the governor to finance a Church memorial to them ran into serious opposition last year.

[5] Another reference to Jalisco’s on-going attempts to finance the Church memorials.  One recent state scandal involved elected officials requiring “contributions” form civil servants, which were, in turn, donated to this particular cause.

[6] Both prominent business men whose children were murdered by kidnappers, the two have been active in organizing anti-crime rallies and events.  Critics on the left usually charge the two with wanting “special rights” for the wealthy (like themselves) and of using – or being used by – the political right to push their own agenda.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. lee sachs permalink
    28 June 2009 6:15 pm

    having lived in mexico for 18 1/2 years it becomes more laughable year after year to hear the orwellian psychobabble (behind the smugpots of government newspeak) go on and on about the drugwar between rival factions. this is a product of the 4th estate1 IT IS THE mexican GOVERNMENT THAT SHOULD BE CLEANED UP.


  2. Jose Ybarra permalink
    4 August 2009 10:59 pm

    I am interested in a story about a or some catholic priest that were killed in vera cruz mx on or about june 30th, 2009, 22:00 hours. This happen in Xalapa. Vera Cruz, MX…. If you all have any info or could steer me to a news site I may read about this crimen, I believe I may have known one of the priest, not sure. Please help me if you can.

    Thank you

    jose ybarra

  3. Jack Ferguson permalink
    23 July 2010 1:26 pm

    It seems to me that the writer of this article knows the culture from real close. I could even say that he/she has lived in Mexico, no doubt.
    However, seeing what is happening in Mexico does not necessarily mean that one can understand what lays beneath.
    If I did not know Mexico and the people that live there, the way I do, I would take this article and the information within at face value. The author seems to have hatred for people with money or in business. He/She tries to make it seem that all poor people are victims that have been robbed.
    It is true, there are a lot of stories of abuse and theft. There is proof of incompetency and negligence from the government, however, not all of the people with financial resources are in cahoots with the politicians, nor all of the politicians are from the extreme right.
    The author shows the same fanatical approach that he/she criticizes in others.
    Finally, I would like to mentioned to you all, that a possible way to “trying” to understand what Mexico is about, one would have to read from people with real knowledge in the matter, such as Guillermo Bonfil Batalla and his “Mexico Profundo”.
    So, dear sir/madam the author, hold your grudges for a different forum and try to calm your apathy for people with money, many of the had nothing to do with earning it, and they might not be as pernicious as you make them appear and could, in the end, be pretty much like you.

  4. 23 July 2010 1:38 pm

    Uh… Jack… whether one agrees or disagrees with the author is somewhat beside the point. This was a translation of an article (by a Mexican, appearing in a Mexican publication) that expresses one opinion (and a very common one) about events at that time.

    On the forum in which it originally appeared (and one raison d’etre for The Mex Files is to present MEXICAN thought that isn’t normally available in the “mainstream” English-language media) it was not at all an unusual point of view and a very common one. Better written (and better sourced) than many perhaps, and a perfectly legitimate example of one stream of thought in Mexico.


  1. Bloody Veracruz and the Mata Zetas « NarcoGuerra Times
  2. A high-tech lynching … « The Mex Files

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: