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We’re here from the government…

24 March 2010

I have been reading the late Carlos Montemayor‘s La Violencia de estado en México (Mexico: Debate, 2010) dealing with the state repression.  Although Montemayor focuses his reseach on the 2 October 1968 Tlatelolco, and 10 June 1971 “Jueves de Corpus Christi” Massacres, and the lesser known, but in many ways more shocking Acteal Massacre (22 December 1997), he also looks at several, lesser known, small-scale examples of state repression and state violence.   Much of Montemayor’s research is based on after the fact published documentation from declassified U.S. intelligence sources.

In March 1969,  a U.S. Air Force C-118 transport, flown by Captain Donald W. Reider, landed the explosives used in September of that year by the Mexican military intelligence units to bombings that could be attributed to “terrorists” (of the domestic variety), and used to justify to the public the crackdown on student dissent.  According to National Security Archive (a non-governmental research institute located at George Washington University), U.S. intelligence sources were well aware of military and national police assistance to the paramilitaries responsible for the Acteal Massacre.

Both examples — taken pretty much at random from Montemayor’s book — demonstrate two things:  first, that the United States already has, and has had, intelligence operatives in Mexico; and, second: if violence is in the State’s interest (as at Acteal), a military or police presence is no barrier to an atrocity.

On the first, I’m dubious of what was accomplished by Hillary Clinton — or was it Janet Napolitano who was leading the show — turning what should have been a routine discussion of continued financing for a bi-national cooperative program  (the so-called Merida Initiative) into an overt invitation for an increasingly militarized solution.  I recognize that Clinton, Napolitano, et. al., all made nice noises about “respecting Mexican sovereignty” and Secretary Clinton made the ritual remarks suitable to such occasions:

“Yes, we accept our share of the responsibility,” Clinton said. “We know that the demand for drugs drives much of this illicit trade and that guns purchases in the U.S. are used to facilitate violence here in Mexico.”

She said that Washington “firmly” supports the campaign launched by Mexican President Felipe Calderon to fight drug trafficking cartels.

Frankly, that “support” seems more designed to prop up an administration than the nation, but I suppose there’s something positive to be said (as the New York Times does), for a less overtly militaristic approach:

Responding to a growing sense that Mexico’s military-led fight against drug traffickers is not gaining ground, the United States and Mexico set their counternarcotics strategy on a new course on Tuesday by refocusing their efforts on strengthening civilian law enforcement institutions and rebuilding communities crippled by poverty and crime.

Overtly, and unapologetically, this “new, improved” plan is based on U.S. military models… specifically from that country’s occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Documentos oficiales y declaraciones de jefes del Pentágono ante el Congreso de Estados Unidos corroboran la intención de la Casa Blanca para aplicar contra el narcotráfico mexicano las técnicas de inteligencia militar utilizadas en Iraq y Afganistán, a fin de reemplazar a la fallida estrategia calderonista y favorecer el eventual repliegue del Ejército Mexicano de las plazas más “calientes”.

[Official documents and declarations by the Pentagon chiefs before the United States congress confirm the White House’s intention to apply to counter-narcotics efforts in Mexico the intelligence techniques used in Iraq and Afganistan, replacing the failed Calderón strategy and the eventual withdrawal of the Mexican Army from “hot spots”]

Presumably, “hot spots” like Juarez, where opposition to the militaristic solution has led to overt calls not just in Chihuahua, but throughout Mexico for Calderón’s resignation.

The same day as the meeting, 50 “Aztecas” (the U.S. based gangsters supposedly responsible for murdering two U.S. consular employees and a consular dependent in Juarez) were arrested, Daniel Borunda of the El Paso Times reported:

A total of 54 members and associates of the Barrio Azteca gang have been arrested as part of Operation Knock Down, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Monday.

The DEA-led crackdown is one of the largest law enforcement efforts ever in El Paso, with more than 200 officers from 21 different agencies. The operation was launched last Thursday to pressure members of the Barrio Azteca gang for information on the deaths of three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Juárez.

Meaning… there has always been the intelligence capacity in the United States to identify and locate people considered a threat to state security… but the timing makes one suspicious.

Will “better intelligence” or doubling the number of DEA agents working in Mexico, or U.S. based training (the intellectual authors, and many of the hitmen in the worst acts of Mexican state violence received their training in the United States, so I’m not sure what it means) prevent disasters like that earlier this week here in Sinaloa, where six Picachos Dam protesters were gunned down, supposedly by gangsters trying to control a roadway. In Acteal, the authorities knew who the armed aggressors were, and chose not to act when the target was a politically inconvenient group (the only difference being those murdered in Acteal were women and children from a religious pacifist group).

President James Knox Polk couldn’t contain his glee when he heard a couple of U.S. soldiers were killed during the “Mexican Stand-off” of 1846, giving him the cover he needed for his “intervention” into Mexico. I don’t think the State Department, or the White House, in 2010 was exactly gleeful over the murder of two American citizens (and a Mexican employee of the United States government), but I will venture that it was a “green light” for implementing a strategy already in place.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    24 March 2010 7:10 pm

    Mike just came home and turned me on to this:

    At US-Mex Summit,A new Take on Drug War

    Listen verrryyyy carefully to Janet:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1003

    Okay everyone knows the words, sing it – “From the Halls of Montezuma….”

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