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The few, the proud, the heavily armed…

17 December 2009

Two issues — that shouldn’t be issues — are raised by international reportage and commentary on the demise of gangster Arturo Beltran Leyva:

Who done it?

I don’t know why this jumped out at people, but there were several commentators (and a couple of e-mails to me) incredulous of the factoid that the late Arturo Beltran Leyva met his maker at the hands of naval personnel.

A commentator in the Huffington Post seemed incredulous of the idea that Mexican has — or ever has had — a navy (hint… check a map) or needed one (having been invaded by sea twice by the United States, twice by France,  Spain and Britain… and German U-boats), yes, indeed Mexico needs a navy.

Burro Hall thought it hilarious that the navy was sent into Cuernavaca.. far from any seaport.  But, then, it’s the burro’s job to be snarky (and he snarks well).

AP and the New York Times called the troops involved in the operation “naval personnel” (which they were), but not — as Time Magazine called them — “sailors”.  Not really, anyway.

The Mexican Navy,  just like every other navy in the world, has an contingent that fights mostly on land.  They’re called Marines (or in Spanish, “infantería de marina”).  They’ve been around since 1823 — 16 October 1823, if you want to impress your friends with Mexican trivia).

Although there are only about 8,000 Mexican Marines — mostly stationed on-board ships (they are the ones who board ships stopped at sea suspected of carrying contraband) or around seaports and oil platforms — and many of their functions have been transferred to the Army in recent years, there are several  Marine bases throughout the country.  I don’t think Beltran was taken down by the Presidential Guard (which are Marines), but there are a couple of rapid-response marine units stationed in the Mexico City area.  The Marines, according to the Secretaria de Marina website, are specialists in “executing operations in areas difficult to access” (which would include getting into an apartment  in suburban Cuernavaca without killing half the neighbors).

Given that the late Mr. Beltran was in the Colombian import-export trade, and the Colombian agricultural products in which Mr. Beltran invested for re-export to the United States mostly entered Mexico by sea, naturally the Navy was involved in their interdiction, and in disrupting his business activities.

Do as we say, not as we do:

No one has yet to comment on the fact that Arturo Beltran Levya will never receive his day in court (nor, that despite having abolished the death penalty years ago, even gangland mob bosses should be eligible for the admittedly inadequate services offered by “centers for social readaption”).  And I don’t fault the Marines, who carried out their mission as intended (as far as we know).

Not that I’m going to fret much about it, but it was interesting that United States Ambassador Carlos Pascual was quoted just before the Cuernavaca raid as praising military deployment in what is basically a criminal justice/police matter.  Gancho mightily argues that this is not really interventionism, but I’ll believe it when the United States Marines march down Wall Street and start blowing away the money launderers and banksters who control the U.S. end of the cocaine trade.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 18 December 2009 10:06 am

    RE Pascual, I only mean that as he is presumably a major and quite influential backer of the use of the military in Mexico, it would kind of be cop-out for him to never discuss the merits/drawbacks of that.

  2. 18 December 2009 10:51 am

    But, I’d still love to see the Marines storming up Wall Street 🙂

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