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1° de Septiembre and “La Barbie”

1 September 2010

Hernandez (la Jornada) probably drew this cartoon before the capture of La Barbie, — Edgar Valdez Villarreal (or plain old Eddie Valdez as he was known back in Laredo), but he acidly captures the mood of a good portion of the country on the eve of the First of September Presidential Report (“El Informe”).

But the criticism isn’t only from the left-intellectural press. Also coming before news of Valdez’ capture was José Luis Ruiz’ article in Monday’s El Universal on dissatisfaction within PAN over Calderón’s prosecution of the anti-narcotics crusade. The translation comes from Reed Brundage (Americas MexiBlog):

The war launched by President Felipe Calderon against organized crime has found some of his main critics within the ranks of his own party, National Action. … From the former president Vicente Fox and former PAN leader Manuel Espino, to PAN legislators such as Manuel J. Clouthier, Javier Corral, and Santiago Creel, they have joined the voices calling for Calderon to change the way of dealing with the underworld, including promoting social factors over the armed forces.

These questions have been motivated by the President’s reaffirming his position to use the armed forces in the onslaught of criminal groups which, for all intents and purposes, have regions under their control. And the Army has not succeeded in weakening the operational structure of these organizations.

Valdez’ capture, coming as it does just as criticism of the “war on drugs” is reaching a critical point, it too well timed to pass without questions being raised about it.

From Metáfora Política:

The capture of Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal, is a political coup for Mexican President Felipe Calderon, coming as it does just hours before the fourth State of the Union address …

… [T]he capture of Valdez Villarreal, the alleged leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, has been promoted by the federal government as proof that their military strategy is working…

… Security experts are skeptical that this arrest will seriously impact organized crime: they believe that the apprehension of a drug high command does not destroy the structure of the organization.

… Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion continues to reject the violence generated by the fight against drugs, which has killed 28,000 since Calderon took office nearly four years ago.

A couple of points of my own…

El Barbie was primarily in the cocaine business, not in the Mexican agricultural export trade. Following his arrest, Colombian police arrested 11 associates… following an 18 month investigation. That calls into question the spin that Valdez’ arrest was a Calderón administrative operation right there.

Valdez was taken alive… unlike other recent “drug lords”. The Christian Science Monitor quotes Jorge Chabat (one of those guys always quoted by the U.S. press about these matters) as calling it a “‘clean operation,’ unlike the previous two high-level captures, in which suspects were killed. Valdez, who was indicted in the US for cocaine smuggling, could be extradited, and that could ultimately mean more intelligence-gathering for officials on both sides of the border.” Again, the suggestion is that foreign operatives were involved… and makes one wonder if killing other drug lords wasn’t also part of the operational plan.

Malcolm Beith points out that “La Barbie” was leading the Beltran-Leyva gang, which USED to be allied with Chapo, but then, Trotsky and Stalin were once on the same side too… as were Pancho Villa and Álvaro Obregón.  If anything, it bolsters the belief in the impunidad of Chapo here.   I don’t think his other recent post (on the capture of some cousin … a distant cousin I believe) of Chapo disproves the theory that the Sinaloa Cartel is purposely left alone by the Calderón Administration, but Barbie’s arrest doesn’t prove it either. It does underscore that Chapo’s enemies are still the ones getting captured (or killed) with much more regularity than the Sinaloans.

But, in Beith’s article, there is the interesting, overlooked tidbit that the capture was at the hands of the Federal Police, not the military… and was taken alive.   The military operations end in bloodshed, and dead gangsters (in a country without a death penalty), which tends to confirm the beliefs of those of us who think soldiers should not be doing police work.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 1 September 2010 7:14 am

    Also Barbie is a US citizen so shipping his smiling ass off to NOB will be much faster and easier. A few years in the USA sharing a bunk with Bubba should put a smile on someone´s face but not sure it will be Barbie´s. I mean, going into prison with a name like that ….at least call him Ken. Sorry (or not) to say but wacking the hefes (cartel) by the Army and Navy only makes sense.

    • 1 September 2010 11:56 am

      You’re probably right, Gene… but I can see two complications. If there’s a chance of him being tried under the Drug Kingpin law — which would make him eligible for capital punishment — his lawyers have a reason to fight extradition. And… politically, it would be an admission by the Calderón Administration that U.S. justice concerns outweigh those of the Mexicans.

  2. Maggie permalink
    1 September 2010 2:02 pm

    How about this: He’ll be turned over to the US, spill the beans and be put on the witness protection program?

  3. humberto permalink
    2 September 2010 1:27 am

    will be extradited with no death penalty, but facing life.

    The real reason why they either are “captured’ alive or die fighting lies not in who attempts to stop them, but if they do know who the pursuers are working for.

    A “Capo” gets stopped multiple times in their ‘careers” but are usually let go right away or little later, so it does not make sense to “fight” everyone that tries to stop them.
    Until their “luck” runs out…

  4. humberto permalink
    2 September 2010 1:37 am

    sorry, deported, not extradited…

  5. Frank permalink
    2 September 2010 4:50 am

    Nothing but speculation about the “capture” of La Barbie, even rumors of La Barbie surrendering to the police. So everybody keep speculating away.


  1. El Pinche Holandés » Blog Archive » Ley de fuga

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