The Truth About Mexico | Archive | Veracruz

Archive | Veracruz

Jorge G. Castañeda Weighs In On Calderón’s War

Jorge G. Castañeda Weighs In On Calderón’s War

If you’re interested in sober, informed commentary on Mexico President Calderón’s war on organized crime, and the debunking of media narrative myths, you’ll want to read Castañeda’s “What’s Spanish for Quagmire?” published in the Jan/Feb edition of Foreign Policy Magazine.

Jorge G. Castañeda, former Mexican foreign minister [during the Fox administration], is senior fellow at the New America Foundation and global distinguished professor of politics and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University.

Castañeda and Rubén Aguilar has written “El Narco: La Guerra Fallida” which is currently available only in Spanish. The Foreign Policy commentary provides a condensed version in English.

Posted in VeracruzComments (0)

Another Media Narrative Myth Debunked

Another Media Narrative Myth Debunked

You’ve probably noticed in recent months the proliferation of the media narrative that Mexican organized crime violence has spread across the border into the USA. Uninformed and/or demagogic politicians, as seems to be the style these days, have initiated and proliferated a narrative which lap dog media outlets report uncritically as fact, and whose reports the politicians then utilize to support their erroneous contentions. It’s the standard politician/media circle jerk, if I might utilize such an analogy.

Now comes The Arizona Republic to inform us that the narrative is complete BS, and that “Violence is not up on Arizona border”. Nor is it up in Texas border cities.

A few excerpts.

NOGALES, Ariz. – Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez shakes his head and smiles when he hears politicians and pundits declaring that Mexican cartel violence is overrunning his Arizona border town.

“We have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico,” Bermudez says emphatically. “You can look at the crime stats. I think Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America.”

——

FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.

While smugglers have become more aggressive in their encounters with authorities, as evidenced by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy on Friday, allegedly by illegal-immigrant drug runners, they do not routinely target residents of border towns.

In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes. Aggravated assaults dropped by one-third. No one has been murdered in two years.

——

In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes. Aggravated assaults dropped by one-third. No one has been murdered in two years.

——

Cochise County’s crime rate has been “flat” for at least 10 years, the sheriff added. Even in 2000, when record numbers of undocumented immigrants were detained in the area, just 4 percent of the area’s violent crimes were committed by illegal aliens.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said his town suffers from home invasions and kidnappings involving marijuana smugglers who are undoubtedly tied to Mexican organizations. However, he added, most of those committing the rip-offs are American citizens.

“I think the border-influenced violence is getting worse,” Villasenor said. “But is it a spillover of Mexican cartel members? No, I don’t buy that.”

——

While the nation’s illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records, the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent.

More recently, Arizona’s violent-crime rate dropped from 512 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 447 incidents in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.

——

Aguilar said that Juarez, Mexico, is widely regarded as the “deadliest city in the world” because of an estimated 5,000 murders in recent years. Yet right across the border, El Paso, Texas, is listed among the safest towns in America.

A review of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports suggests that Arizona’s border towns share El Paso’s good fortune. Douglas and Nogales are about the same size as Florence but have significantly lower violent-crime rates. Likewise, Yuma has a population greater than Avondale’s but a lower rate of violent offenses.

In Nogales, Ariz., residents seem bemused and annoyed by their town’s perilous reputation. Yes, they sometimes hear the gunfire across the border. No, they don’t feel safe visiting the sister city across the line. But with cops and federal agents everywhere, they see no danger on their streets.

“There’s no violence here,” said Francisco Hernandez, 31, who works in a sign shop and lives on a ranch along the border. “It doesn’t drain over, like people are saying.”

Leo Federico, 61, a retired teacher, said he has been amazed to hear members of Congress call for National Guard troops in the area.

“That’s politics,” he said, shrugging. “It’s all about votes. . . . We have plenty of law enforcement.”

Posted in VeracruzComments (0)

Death in La Frontera – Courtesy USA

Death in La Frontera – Courtesy USA

The AP report very clearly illustrates why the USA policy of the prohibition of recreational drugs is such a really, really bad idea and the policy’s effects on other nations, and not just on Mexico. There are many Latin American and Caribbean nations rife with organized criminals engaged in supplying the USA demand for such drugs.

Market forces are irresistible. Where a market demand exists that demand will be supplied, whether legally or otherwise. The difference being that supplying the demand for an illegal good is much more lucrative, as its prohibition has radically raised the price beyond its real cost. So much more lucrative, in fact, that folks are willing to risk their freedom and lives to supply the market. So much more lucrative that those engaged in supplying the market are willing to eliminate their competitors with extreme prejudice. So much more lucrative that many Mexican military special forces troops forsook the military life to join the “Zetas”, first as “enforcers” for drug trade criminal organizations; and these days hostilely taking over those criminal organizations by executing their proprietors.

That’s what’s going on in Mexico these days, most prominently in the “frontera”, the Mexican/USA border region.

Prohibition of alcohol, we of the USA should remember, resulted in criminals organizing to make lots of money supplying the market demand for liquor and beer. With so much money at stake some of the organized criminals decided to disorganize and began killing their competitors to garner a larger share of the market, thus greater personal profits.

Again, it’s perfectly legal in the USA for folks to wig out daily on pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs, but one may not smoke pot grown in the back yard to get through the day. Why?

The only explanation I am able to fathom is pharmaceutical industry profits.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, you see, don’t kill their competitors in pursuance of greater market share. They, being very well organized, have found it much more cost effective to lavish money on legislators and then suggest legislation they’d like to see enacted to increase their market share, often writing the legislation they suggest.

Posted in VeracruzComments (0)

Mexico Murder Rate Reality Check

Mexico Murder Rate Reality Check

The murder rate in Mexico has actually dropped by 30% from 1997 through last year, the LA Times reports. However there are localities, such as Juarez in the state of Chihuahua, where the local murder rate is amongst the highest in the world. “If the state of Chihuahua were a country, today we would have the fourth-highest level of major violence in the world”, observed Chihuahua Sen. Gustavo Madero.

Looked at another way, though, Mexico isn’t as deadly as it used to be.

That’s the point the nation’s attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, was pushing this week when he cited figures showing that Mexico’s overall homicide rate has fallen since the 1990s.

“The levels of violence that the country is experiencing are very serious,” Medina Mora told a gathering of advertising executives. “But they are much less than we had 15 years ago.”

The drug-related violence has scared away tourists and prompted some commentators to warn that Mexico risks collapse. But Medina Mora said the country registered about 11 homicides per 100,000 residents last year, down from 16 in 1997.

Additional info here.

Posted in VeracruzComments (34)

More on Mexico as Failing State

More on Mexico as Failing State

Having looked further into the matter, it appears that the Mexico failed state media narrative was spawned by a November 25, 2008 report issued by the United States Joint Forces Command Center for Joint Futures, The Joint Operating Environment (JOE).

Here is the specific language from the report which seems to have set off the narrative:

C. Weak and Failing states
Weak and failing states will remain a condition of the global environment over the next quarter of a century. Such countries will continue to present strategic and operational planners serious challenges, with human suffering on a scale so large that it almost invariably spreads throughout the region, and in some cases possesses the potential to project trouble throughout the globalized world.

Yet, there is no clear pattern for the economic and political troubles that beset these states. In some cases, disastrous leadership has wrecked political and economic stability. In others, wars among tribal groups with few cultural, linguistic, or even racial ties have imploded states. This was the case in Africa and the Middle East, where in the nineteenth century the European powers divided frontiers between their colonies on the basis of economic, political, or strategic necessity and paid scant attention to existing linguistic, racial, or cultural patterns of the tribal societies. These dysfunctional borders have exacerbated nearly every conflict in which our forces have been involved in these regions.

Many, if not the majority, of weak and failing states will center in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. A current list of such states much resembles the lists of such states drawn up a generation ago, suggesting a chronic condition, which, despite considerable aid, provides little hope for solution. There have been a number of nations that have escaped poverty — their successes resulting from intelligent leadership and a willingness to embrace integration into the global system. To date, the remaining weak and failing nations have chosen other paths.

There is one dynamic in the literature of weak and failing states that has received relatively little attention, namely the phenomenon of “rapid collapse.” For the most part, weak and failing states represent chronic, long-term problems that allow for management over sustained periods. The collapse of a state usually comes as a surprise, has a rapid onset, and poses acute problems. The collapse of Yugoslavia into a chaotic tangle of warring nationalities in 1990 suggests how suddenly and catastrophically state collapse can happen—in this case, a state which had hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics at Sarajevo, and which then quickly became the epicenter of the ensuing civil war.

In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons. That “perfect storm” of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger with no guarantee they could gain control of the weapons and with the real possibility that a nuclear weapon might be used.

The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone.

This, despite the fact that the report projects Mexico to have the world’s tenth highest per capita income and the world’s sixth largest GDP by the year 2030, larger than that projected for Brazil, with about 80 million more inhabitants than Mexico and often cited as an emerging global economic power.

Keep in mind that the very beginning of the JOE, even before the the title, includes this disclaimer:

About this Study
The Joint Operating Environment is intended to inform joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense. It provides a perspective on future trends, shocks, contexts, and implications for future joint force commanders and other leaders and professionals in the national security field. This document is speculative in nature and does not suppose to predict what will happen in the next twenty-five years. Rather, it is intended to serve as a starting point for discussions about the future security environment at the operational level of war. Inquiries about the Joint Operating Environment should be directed to USJFCOM Public Affairs, 1562 Mitscher Avenue, Suite 200, Norfolk, VA 23551-2488, (757) 836-6555. [emphasis added]

Posted in VeracruzComments (4)

Mexico As “Failed State” Media Narrative

Mexico As “Failed State” Media Narrative

Remember the, “Mexico is at risk for failing as a state” narrative which echoed through the USA media a few weeks back?

The Brookings Institution, last year, produced The Index of State Weakness in the Developing World , which “ranks and assesses 141 developing nations according to their relative performance in four critical spheres: economic, political, security and social welfare.” The index was derived through aggregating information in a number of reports produced by academic and governmental organizations.

So, where does Mexico rank, with number 1, Somolia, being most at risk, and 141, the Slovak Republic, being most stable? Mexico comes in at 120th, ahead of Columbia at 47th most likely to fail, Brazil at 99th, and Argentina at 115th to cite just a few. So why are we not seeing media reports of Columbia as a failing state?

Posted in VeracruzComments (3)

Drug Trafficking Key Component in “Failed State” Headlines

Drug Trafficking Key Component in “Failed State” Headlines

Every day, recently, the USA media herd echo chamber carries reports that Mexico is falling apart into an “an epidemic of drug-related violence“, as in this McClatchey piece. This ABC story, citing a “a confidential federal law enforcement assessment obtained by ABC News,” even goes so absurdly far as to ask, in its headline, “Mexico: The Next Iraq or Afghanistan?

The reports are largely nonsense, but the ABC comparison of Mexico to Iraq or Afghanistan is just utter silliness, the suggestion of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair’s that drug gangs have taken control of portions of Mexico notwithstanding. Enrique Krauze explains in his NYT commentary just how silly the comparison to Iraq or Afghanistan is.

“AMERICA’S distorted views can have costly consequences, especially for us in Latin America. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Mexico this week is a good time to examine the misconception that Mexico is, or is on the point of becoming, a ‘failed state.’

This notion appears to be increasingly widespread. The Joint Forces Command recently issued a study saying that Mexico — along with Pakistan — could be in danger of a rapid and sudden collapse. President Obama is considering sending National Guard troops to the Mexican border to stop the flow of drugs and violence into the United States. The opinion that Mexico is breaking down seems to be shared by much of the American news media, not to mention the Americans I meet by chance and who, at the first opportunity, ask me whether Mexico will ‘fall apart.’

It most assuredly will not. First, let’s take a quick inventory of the problems that we don’t have. Mexico is a tolerant and secular state, without the religious tensions of Pakistan or Iraq. It is an inclusive society, without the racial hatreds of the Balkans. It has no serious prospects of regional secession or disputed territories, unlike the Middle East. Guerrilla movements have never been a real threat to the state, in stark contrast to Colombia.

Most important, Mexico is a young democracy that eliminated an essentially one-party political system, controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, that lasted more than 70 years. And with all its defects, the domination of the party, known as the P.R.I., never even approached the same level of virtually absolute dictatorship as that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, or even of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.

Further, Bloomberg.com reports that Moody’s investor’s Services has declared that “Mexico’s investment-grade credit rating is safe….”, saying in its report.

“Despite heightened anxiety about the escalation of violence and organized crime activity, Mexico does not fit the general profile of countries identified as failed states,” Moody’s said in a report released today. “The general foundations of its investment-grade rating remain solid.”

Look, Mexico is a nation of 111 million folks, the eleventh most populous nation in the world. Likewise, Mexico represents the eleventh largest economy in the world. Mexico has a literacy rate of 91% amongst those over fifteen years of age and 95% of the population enjoys electrical service. Mexico has a political system that every six years results in an orderly election for president and an orderly transition from one administration to the next. Mexico is a modern nation.

Every breathless news report of Mexico’s dire straights will tell you that there have been “7,000 drug-related murders in Mexico since January 2008″. There is no doubt that the drug gang killings of competitors and of police officials hunting them is a serious affront to both Mexican and USA domestic tranquility which must be addressed. But the murder in Mexico statistic must be taken in perspective, in terms of both its magnitude and its causes.

The aggregate murder rate in Mexico, as of 2006, was almost 11 per 100,000 population. For comparison purposes the murder rate in Chicago during the alcohol prohibition years of 1920-1933 was 10.5 per 100,000 in 1920; 14.6 per 100,000 in 1930; and by 1940, seven years after the end of prohibition, the rate dropped to 7.1 per 100,000.

What must be remembered when reading USA media reports of violence in Mexico is that it is largely confined to those working in the black market, trafficking in drugs and/or Cubans hoping to place a “dry foot” on USA territory so they may stay. Most, by far, of those 7,000 Mexican murders occurred in cities abutting, or adjacent to, the USA border; and, to a much lesser extent, in the Yucatan peninsula where the Mexican branch of the Cuban mafia is headquartered.

Black marketeers, prohibition era bootleggers, modern day Mexico drug gangs, and the Cuban mafia human/drug traffickers for instance, are not nearly so reluctant to eliminate their commercial competition with “extreme prejudice” as are their legitimate counterparts.

What also must be remembered is that the Mexican drug gangs are armed primarily with weapons obtained in the USA. The gangs run drugs North and bring cash and guns South, a fact I was pleased to see Obama acknowledge during his press conference yesterday. Secretary of State Clinton also acknowledged such in a statement upon her arrival in Mexico City today.

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Clinton told reporters during her flight to Mexico City.

“I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

The USA market demand for drugs is of immense value, valued in the tens of billions of dollars per year. Market forces can not be resisted, a demand will be supplied whether legally or otherwise, as was amply demonstrated during the days of USA alcohol prohibition. All prohibition really accomplishes is to raise the value of the prohibited product to a level so as to enable black marketeers. That is, the value of the prohibited product becomes so great that to some folks the attraction of lucrative returns out weighs the risk of the legal consequences.

So what can be done? It’s pretty simple, really. Scrap the wet foot, dry foot policy and accept Cuban immigrants upon the same conditions required of the residents of every other nation on earth. And, since, reportedly, 60% of the Mexican drug gangs’ revenue derives from smuggling marijuana to to the USA, the USA must legalize the personal production and use of marijuana. USA marijuana users with green thumbs may grow enough in the backyard to supply their personal needs and the less intrepid may buy their personal stash the same place they now buy their alcoholic libations.

USA legalization would almost immediately reduce the price of marijuana so as to put the black marketeers out of the marijuana trafficking business, as it would no longer be a profitable enterprise. The reduction in the gangs’ revenues would reduce the numbers of weapons purchased in and smuggled from the USA.

Then, adopt the Swiss model and provide for government distribution of pharmaceutical heroin and cocaine at cost to users.

If significant numbers of folks insist upon upon using heroin or cocaine, whether prohibited or not, (the Harrison Act has had little effect upon the rate of heroin use) shouldn’t we see that they are provided in a manner that ensures the users’ safety, greatly reduces the need for users to steal to support their habits, reduces disease transmission, and which doesn’t involve criminal gang distribution networks ?

The economic meltdown once again has illustrated that there are folks who will do anything in their pursuit of self enrichment, bring the world economy to its knees or murder and behead a drug or human trafficking competitor. It is time to remove the drug trafficking profit incentive. Once the drug gangs are out of business we may turn our attention to reigning in the pirates of Wall Street.

Note: This article originally appeared in Expatriate Ruminations, and is reprinted here with permission.

Posted in VeracruzComments (3)

Click here to Like The Truth About Mexico on Facebook





Related Sites

Quick Takes

México's Many Layers
02/16, 4:38 am | Comments: 0
President and CEO of Softtek, Blanca Treviño writes in the Huffington Post A Fuller Picture: México’s Many Layers.  We heartily agree!

An Alternative to the "Mexico of CNN"
01/8, 4:49 am | Comments: 0
Ron Erskine of the Gilroy Dispatch wrote a piece titled “San Miguel de Allende a safe, scenic alternative to the “Mexico of CNN.” We hope you enjoy seeing San Miguel through his eyes.

A Taste of Real Mexico
01/6, 1:20 am | Comments: 0
I live in Mazatlán, and I know what a wonderful place it is.  Today I read a piece by Darren Parkman “The Traveling Canadian” about his visit to Mazatlán.  It sounds like he loves it as much as I do.  Here is his article titled A Taste or Real Mexico

google