Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Escalating War

Not Afghanistan, Mexico. Recently President Calderon sent in the army to carry on a fight that has totally gotten beyond the capacity of police to manage. For the first time, a bombing occurred, two blocks from the police station in Mexico City

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which sent shock waves through the heart of the Mexican capital. But officials on the case have said they are investigating whether it could be the work of drug cartels reeling from a crackdown by President Felipe Calderon. Leftist guerrilla groups also have a history of bombing in Mexico, but they have normally hit political or commercial buildings at night without leaving casualties.

If drug gangs are proven to be behind the blast, it would show a worrying escalation in the battle between organized crime and the government. Since Jan. 1, drug cartel gunmen armed with huge arsenals of automatic rifles and grenade launchers have slain more than 30 police, soldiers and judges in ambushes and assassinations. The attacks come as Calderon has made record drug busts, sent 25,000 police and soldiers against the gangs, and extradited alleged kingpins to the United States.

While the Mexican crime families do not have a history of using bombs, explosive devices used to be a favored tactic of their associates in Colombia. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Medellin cartel responded to a government crackdown with bombs on street corners, cars and even one passenger jet, killing hundreds. Colombian gangsters have long been selling cocaine to the Mexican cartels, who smuggle it into the United States. "The cartels could be turning to this Colombian tactic of using terror to pressure the government to back off," said Mexican drug expert Jorge Chabat. "They may be trying to raise the political cost for Calderon of carrying out his campaign."

Police say the man killed in the blast was probably himself carrying the bomb because the device went off about a three feet from the ground, blowing out surrounding car windows but not causing a crater. "The man completely lost his hand. He surely did this when he was handling the explosive device," Mexico City Police Chief Joel Ortega told reporters.

The occupation by army forces has been protested in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa by hundreds of people blocking the bridges and stopping traffic. Of course, murders have been constant, gruesome beheadings among them.

The drug wars are supported by the U.S., and recently that war was condemned by a panel formed by Latin American governments alarmed at the violence.

As drug violence spirals out of control in Mexico, a commission led by three former Latin American heads of state blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point.

"The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. "We have to move from this approach to another one."

The commission, headed by Mr. Cardoso and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and C├ęsar Gaviria of Colombia, says Latin American governments as well as the U.S. must break what they say is a policy "taboo" and re-examine U.S.-inspired antidrugs efforts. The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana.

Such sanity seems far removed from any action that our government took over the previous eight years. With a large community still holding control of seats in Congress who would never let sanity break out, my optimism is somewhat constrained. Yes, that's unusual for me. This is a growing situation on the border of the U.S. that were we not in over our ears in the Middle East, our government might provide some help with. As it is, I think we will give our Latin American neighbors more grounds to despair of us.

For now, I will repeat a friend's advice when I left her home on Padre Island for a trip to the Big Bend area, planning to make a quick trip over into Mexico. Her advice: Go in a rural area, stay away from the big cities, only go by day. I had a lovely visit and went on my way to Alpine, where I was delighted to see the Marfa lights. No hallucinogens involved, just forget you thought that.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Your dollars at work.

Perhaps Mexico was always destined for chaos.

But NAFTA hastened to dissolution, wiping out subsistence farming. And what that didn't kill, the fuelization of agriculture has finished.

So millions of semi-literate, semi-peonista country people are pushed into cities, where there are 'jobs.'

But there are no jobs, and besides the agricultural people don't have the 'skills.' They can be trained. they are hungry and eager to learn.

And they are vulnerable to the blandishments of criminal syndicates dealing in drugs and arms.

I heard today about a mexican drug gang near tijuana that conducted a raid using mortars and rpgs? rocket-propelled grenades? Juarez is a viretual war-zone--though it should be said, the cartelistas do seem to be more careful then, say the USers in Pakistan or Afghanistan to limit 'collateral damage.' In mexico, i'm told, 90-95% of the dead bodies once belonged to bad guys of one gang or another.

There will never be peace along the border until at least marijuan and cocaine are decriminalized.

Mebbe not even then, though, either, when the evident discrepancies between USer privilege and Mexican deprivation grow more obvious.

in my humble opinion, as ever

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got just two options, as I see it. You can either have the Intelligence Services of the United States/Latin American countries spread false information to get the cartels to wipe each other out. "Clandestine psychological Ops". (You'd be surprised, this sort of thing goes on all the time.) Or, you can authorize a "shoot-on-sight" declaration, in other words, shoot now, ask questions later. This strategy, if employed, would be greatly sucessful if used against the Somali pirates, I would think. They are encouraged by the fact that they are greeted with smiles by the Americans and then put into an endless legal shuffle where they get lost into the "system" and the litany of paperwork and "rights" they are entitled to. Never mind that they had people at gunpoint just moments earlier and their hostages were afraid for their lives and uncertain if they will ever see their children ever again. But, that sort of thing continues to happen because the Saomali pirates know nothing bad will happen to them. I tell you, if they knew that the United States would lauch cruise missiles at them the minute they are observed harassing ships, or would open-fire no questions asked, I guarantee these terrorists would reevaluate their line of work. Same goes for the drug smugglers south of the border. But, since these strategies will most likely NOT be employed, you can safely bet that 2009 will be a record year for continued violence and these types of killings that you've been hearing about. (I know that 2008 was a Record, but 2009 will be a Record still.)

11:05 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Latin America is undergoing a general movement away from the right wing, especially the descendants of European conquistadors. We do well to note that survival is no longer enough for the indigenous population, they are moving into power. The drug trade is presently the most prosperous farming in Mexico, they aren't going to give it up any more than the Afghans are. We should be on the side of the working people, and stop making it into a war. Would we make war on the tequila industry?

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Ruth 100% and to phrase we must remember that prohibition created Al Capone just like drug prohibition created the cartels.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legalize it.

4:59 AM  

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