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The permanent threat, useful idiots, dictators and fascists

29 June 2010

The murder of Dr. Rodolfo Torre Cantú and four others outside Ciudad Victoria,  has thrown the entire electoral process into chaos, not only in Tamaulipas, where Torre was the PRI candidate, and odds-on favorite for the next Governor of the U.S. border state, but throughout the country… and raises questions about the democratic credentials of the present administration.

While presumed to be the handiwork of one or another of the narcotics export “cartels”, David Agren notes the growing number of political deaths during the Calderón Administration:

The death of a gubernatorial candidate just seven days prior to statewide elections marks the most notable political assassination in Mexico since the 1994 murder of PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in Tijuana. The details and motives for Colosio’s death still remain firmly in the domain of conspiracies more than 16 years later.

Torre’s death also marks perhaps the most significant political murder since President Felipe Calderón launched his crackdown on the drug cartels in December 2006 – or, according to Patrick Corcorcan of the Gancho Blog, at least the most significant murder since Edgar Millán, acting director of the Federal Preventive Police, was gunned down in May 2008 by the Sinaloa Cartel.

Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño and anti-drug prosecutor José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos died in a November 2008 plane crash mere miles from Los Pinos (the president’s residence) but the incident was ruled an accident and foul play ruled out.

As Vasconcelos — as the head of narcotics prosecution — was said to be the intended target of what many refuse to believe was an air accident when the better-known Mouriño was killed, Torre may not have been the target of this attack, but rather Enrique Blackmore Smer, a popular Deputy, Executive Secretary of the State Security Council and — incidentally — Torre’s campaign manager.

Felipe Calderón, however, already assuming Torre was the intended victim (which he could have been) of narcotics traffickers (who could have been the killers), said :

“Today has proven that organized crime is a permanent threat and that we should close ranks to confront it and avoid more actions like the cowardly assassination that today has shaken the country…”

Neither political violence, nor allegations that narcotics traffickers have an interest in political campaigns are anything new.  Neither in Mexico nor anywhere else for that matter.  State sanctioned violence — under the rubric of fighting organized crime of one sort or another (think of Porfiro Díaz’ “Rurales” — supposedly anti-bandit rural police more often used to evict or kill troublesome peons)  — isn’t new either.

While I don’t think there has been wide-spread “disappearances” of political opponents carried out under the guise of anti-narcotics criminal prosecutions, there have been Michoacanazos (arresting potential political opponents on shaky narcotics charges before elections, then dropping them later), and un-investigated murders and disappearances of environmentalists, labor activists and journalists, chalked up to organized crime.  And, the deaths of innocent by-standers dismissed as “collateral damage.”  And, it might be noted, Torre may have been the “innocent bystander” in this latest hit.  But  this is what is new — people are less likely to accept the state’s rationales, nor are they as likely to be cowed into silence as they once were.

Via The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Portal, comes an editorial from Jorge Fernández Menéndez in Excélsior, on Fernando Gomez-Mont’s summary dismissal of human rights organizations as “useful idiots” for the gangsters.  As Fernández rightly points out, so-called “drug lords” have raised human rights complaints from prison.  What he neglects to mention is that human rights campaigns here in Sinaloa and elsewhere have been dismissed by authorities as financed by narcos, which could be true, but doesn’t mean the issues weren’t legitimate.

And, what is new is that people notice that present Administration’s single-minded focus on one particular problem (organized crime) can be flexible when it is useful to put down dissent, or when it wants to distract attention from other issues.   Raul Vera, the Bishop of Saltillo,  noticed. He is one of those Gomez-Mont would dismiss as a “useful idiot”, but took the risky move of mentioning politics in the pulpit last Sunday:

The bishop of Saltillo, Raul Vera Lopez, called President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa a dictator and Interior Secretary, Fernando Gomez Mont, a fascist during a Sunday afternoon homily.

During the sermon, Vera also warned that organized crime been fused with the Mexican state and there are no clear boundaries between them.

He noted that the unconstitutionality of presidential action is not limited to security issue, but is also exhibited by Calderón’s hard-line attacks on the working class, “as in the illegal action undertaken against  Luz y Fuerza.

Known for his unending campaign for human rights, Vera Lopez dismissed Fernando Gómez Mont, who in recent days urged the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, for its initials in Spanish) to make a distinction between torture and “enhanced interrogation*”.

“The language is dictatorial, fascist and dangerous,” he said.

During the homily, Bishop Vera  López began by repudiating attacks against media outlets — Zocalo (Piedras Negras), Noticias del Sol (Laguna region) and Televisa, which in recent days have been the target of organized crime.

Bad (and possibly illegitimate) governments, focused on their own survival and thwarting the legitimate concerns of the masses aren’t anything new either.  Oh, perhaps the exploiting class is Mexican now, our religion is democracy and human rights, and the imperial power has moved from Paris to Washington, but in the bicentennial year, bad government is nothing new… and not all clerics are beholden to the government line:

* “enhanced interrogation” is my translation of “sometimiento” — literally “submission”, but in the sense of submission under duress… as in “giving the old third degree.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tio Foncho permalink
    29 June 2010 6:15 pm

    Now that is the way to write a blog, Richard. Show all sides of the matter with unbiased facts. Way to go.


    • 2 July 2010 1:59 pm


      First off, who died and made you the arbiter of what is and isn’t proper for my own production?

      Secondly, you seem to believe that “unbiased” means giving credence to your biases.

      Third, when did I ever claim to be unbiased?

      Fourth, when you post irrelevant comments about Arizona on threads having nothing to do with that failed state, of course I delete them… as I often do with useless material.

  2. Maggie permalink
    29 June 2010 6:58 pm

    I afraid to say anything.

  3. Jose Guadalupe Garcia Cavazos permalink
    1 July 2010 11:22 pm

    There is a need in for action in Mexico, not only against the cartels, but against The Mexican government. This government; that has time, and time again failed us. This government that promised security, and prosperity; but only has provided fear, insecurity, facsism,favoritism, and racism for the majority, who are the meztizos and indios, the people that have fought an uphill battle in Mexico to overcome hunger, instabality, and racism. Alot of us have traveled far across the border to the United States and have accomplished what we could’nt in our land. Shame on you Mexico,shame on you. You have welcomed with open arms ,foreigners with a lot of money and ambition, who only whish to get rich and exploit their own under-paid Mexican workers. And you! Mexican politicians! You have lost faith in your own people over the years. You have whatched us with indiffernce cross the border, escaping treatement as undesirables in our motherland. And, now, we whatch your demise here safely from our new country, that has provided what you could never provide. Safety, Security and Stability.

  4. Jose Guadalupe Garcia Cavazos permalink
    2 July 2010 10:18 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog richard. Keep it up. Also, I’d like to say that this website kicks ass, it is on my favorites list.

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