This week the heads of the entire U.S. National Security establishment – including Secretary of state Hillary Clinton Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence – were in Mexico meeting with the Mexican government to address the growing warfare on the border.
No, it isn’t immigration – that’s just a convenient distraction. It’s drugs. And their solution to this explosive problem? More of the same, of course. And in a strange turn of events, the U.S. seems to be siding with the most violent group – the Sinaloa cartel.
The drug war that has erupted in Juárez is basically between the Sinaloa cartel, headed by convicted murderer Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and other traffickers over lucrative smuggling routes into the U.S. from Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. It has claimed the lives of 380 people so far this year in Cuidad Juárez, including 15 teenagers who were gunned down last month at a high school party and 3 U.S. consulate workers who were gunned down last week.
Investigators believe that most of the killings are the result of a turf war between the Sinaloa cartel and a rival gang, "La Linea." According to Al Jazeera,
Critics of Felipe Calderón, Mexico's president, and his so-called war on drugs have alleged that the Mexican government may be favouring the Sinaloa cartel, one of the country's most powerful drug-trafficking organisations. Calderón's military-focused strategy has so far yielded little apparent result in a conflict estimated to have cost more than 15,000 lives since 2006.
Accusations of a "corrupt" Mexican government protecting certain cartels have been around since the 1970s, but now some of the country's leading investigative reporters say they have solid evidence showing that authorities are going after other cartels, but not targeting Sinaloa.
"There are no important detentions of Sinaloa cartel members," Diego Osorno, an investigative journalist and the author of a book on the Sinaloa cartel published last year, told Al Jazeera's Franc Contreras. "But the government is hunting down [Sinaloa's] adversary groups - [and] new players in the world of drug trafficking."
Edgardo Buscaglia, a leading law professor in Mexico and an international organised crime expert, has analysed 50,000 drug-related arrest documents dating back to 2003, and said that only a tiny fraction of the them were against Sinaloa members, and low-key ones at that.
"Law enforcement shows you objectively that the federal government has been hitting the weakest organised crime groups in Mexico. The Familia Michoacana, mainly, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez," he told Al Jazeera. "But they have not been hitting the main organised crime group, the Sinaloa Federation, that is responsible for 45 per cent of the drug trade in this country."
And while there is not doubt that the drug trade is lucrative, it is not the key to Guzman’s $1 billion fortune. No, for that you need to look to the United States government – and the corrupt government of Calderón. Because much of the Sinaloan monies have come from the $1.6 billion the US is providing in aid to Mexico under the terms of the Merida Initiative, which was signed in 2007 by President George W. Bush and his counterpart, Calderón. But no one really knows how the money is being spent, because there's no accountability.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
When Mexico and the United States were entering a landmark free trade agreement 16 years ago, one thing was clear: Mexican farmers would initially find it difficult to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural products. The solution: Mexico created a special fund to dole out cash to the poorest and smallest farmers.
Somewhere along the way, something went wrong. Today, the fund -- far from helping the neediest -- is providing large financial subsidies to the families of notorious drug traffickers and several senior government officials, including the agriculture minister.
Its failure has driven tens of thousands of subsistence farmers to ruin and encouraged the planting of illegal crops, such as marijuana and opium poppy, on vast tracts of farmland, experts and officials say.
Under the program, known as Procampo, an estimated $1.3 billion was given last year to 2.7 million farmers. The allotment is about $74 to $100 per 2.5 acres. But, according to several academic studies, as much as 80% of the money went to just 20% of the registered farmers.
Among the most eyebrow-raising recipients were three siblings of billionaire drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, and the brother of Guzman's onetime partner, Arturo Beltran Leyva.
That’s right. Afghanistan is no longer the only place where the opium poppy grows. Increasingly, our dealings with Mexico and the blooming drug cartel there is echoing our dealings in Afghanistan, where opium kingpin and brother of the prime minister, Ahmed Wali Karzai is on the CIA payroll.
So what is the U.S. response to Calderón’s support of the Guzman cartel? Are we demanding to know where our money is going? Are we demanding proof that it isn’t being used to grow the drugs the cartel is importing into the United States? Of course not. According to the Christian Science Monitor
We are expanding the Merida Initiative beyond what it was traditionally considered to be, because it is not just about security, but about institution-building," Secretary Clinton said. "It is about reaching out to and including communities and civil society, and working together to spur social and economic development.
In other words, we are doubling down with another $300 million into the same failed program without demanding any accountability or change in strategies.
This is the car that was carrying two of the consulate workers when they were gunned down crossing the border to their home in El Paso. Their infant child in the back seat was unarmed. That is the approach to the U.S. checkpoint station on the bridge over the Rio Grande. I have been through that location many, many times. There are never fewer that 50 armed U.S. border guards there; at that time of day there are usually two or three times that number. And yet, the three gunman – who were on foot – walked up to a car and open fire, then ran away into the U.S. unharmed and have not been apprehended.
The response? From the LA Daily News:
Obama was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the killings, the White House said. "He extends his condolences to the families and condemns these attacks on consular and diplomatic personnel serving at our foreign missions," the White House said in a statement. "In concert with Mexican authorities, we will work tirelessly to bring their killers to justice."
Police said they had no information on a possible motives.
Calderón's office said the Mexican president "expresses his indignation" and "his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims." He "reiterated the Mexican government's unwavering compromise to resolve these grave crimes."
The bold is mine. If that comment is true, they might as well throw in the towel. If they are truly that clueless, there is no hope for the survival of Mexico.
Every account that I have read of this shooting from a U.S. news source goes on extensively about the "random shooting" and civilians "accidentally" getting caught in the crossfire. This was not random. At that point on the bridge traffic has been narrowed by concrete bunkers into a single file. There is no way to back up, turn, or escape. But there was no random exchange of gunfire, no one else was injured; even the child in the back seat was unharmed.
Of the thousands of cars that cross that border through that checkpoint each day, the gunmen did not walk into the most heavily armed point on the entire Mexican border and accidentally select the car carrying a consulate employee. In reality, the government officials know exactly what it is all about. This was the weekend before this meeting between U.S. and Mexican government officials. The Sinaloa cartel put the U.S. government on notice. And we:
- authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad Juárez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send their family members out of the area because of concerns about rising drug violence
- the State Department noted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has advised American citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of the Mexican states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua.
- agreed to send in another $300 million into the same failed program without demanding any accountability or change in strategies.
Nearly 18,000 people have been killed since Calderón deployed tens of thousands of troops and federal police across the country in December 2006 in an offensive against drug traffickers. The policy has been a dismal failure – just as the U.S. policy has been. Mexico is in danger of becoming a failed state. That is why the administration's response has been so extreme – they hoped that armored vehicles and checkpoints would send the dealers running for the hills. But they were wrong; the fighting only intensified.
So, now, the White House is adding social programs and "institution building" to its military strategy. Sound familiar? Afghanistan is a long, long way away. But thanks to shrub's friend Calderón and his inept government, to Obama's apparent intention to pursue the worst of shrub's foreign policies, and the "intervention" of military and intelligence agencies, the worst of the war is getting closer all of the time.
But so long as the Calderón government supports the Sinaloa cartel, protecting its members while pursuing its enemies, the situation will get worse. And propping up Calderón with U.S. funds and no accountability is probably the worst choice we could make. Tell me again about how we are fighting the war on terror.
Our embassy and consulate officials must send their families far away. As recently as last December I was crossing the border at Juárez without any problems. I can no longer do so. My Mexican relatives in the U.S. are afraid to return there to visit. This will be the first Easter in many years that my MIL has not participated in Holy Week activities – any assemblies now are fraught with fear of the police, the military, and the Sinaloa cartel.
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Tonight’s Top Comments. . . .
From bronx 59:
This comment by Pangloss had me laughing and crying at the same time.
From blue oregon:
CitizenOfEarth kicks off a thread containing several 'new words' that are worth adding to your online dictionary.
spyguy999 pointed out, in few words, the contradiction that sums up Sarah Palin, the Republican party and the teabaggers.
rwgate proves his biklingual cred -- he can talk Republican too.
Tonight’s Top mojo . . . .
Top Mojo excluding search-identifiable tip jars, first diary comments, and C&J comments:
1 - Breaking: Teabaggers Adopt New U. S. Flag:.....leonard145b.....199
2 - I understand Grayson.....nandssmith.....152
3 - I think the Repubs........KingOneEye.....144
4 - You know, I'm getting sick and tired.....Jeff Y.....139
5 - I disagree......PinHole.....134
6 - I thought we said goodbye to that criminal.....xxdr zombiexx.....119
7 - Thanks for this diary. I've been to Oklahoma City.....hideinplainsight.....98
8 - Kudos to Brainwrap......Land of Enchantment.....96
9 - Fox News.....president raygun.....95
10 - Me too, Salo, but this letter.....sherlyle.....93
11 - Only Joe Biden isn't photoshopped......xxdr zombiexx.....87
12 - I love it!.....dryfoo.....85
13 - i got a pic.....Adept2u.....83
14 - Port-a-potties are socialist......Bush Bites.....81
15 - I thought it would be cool if the Dems.....minerva1157.....81
16 - Yeah, but you know it says a lot when this early.....Badabing.....80
17 - "Teabaggers totally ignorant about ___________".....Finck II.....79
18 - I think we've been lied to.....Seneca Doane.....78
19 - You mean nucular.....Johnnythebandit.....77
20 - They do it on reflex. And they're quick! Have you.....Clive all hat no horse Rodeo.....76
21 - Welcome to Episode 1 of.....xxdr zombiexx.....73
22 - Shouldn't the.....Crashing Vor.....71
23 - Five year old children.....nosleep4u.....70
24 - When will our president start playing hardball........2questions.....69
25 - Rather, security announces arrests and.....Jim P.....69
26 - Fox will report that half a million strong.....crystal eyes.....68
27 - when did it become a crime to spout opposition.....testvet6778.....65
28 - She's not insane.....TNdem.....64
29 - I think that would be a faulty assumption.....DaveinBremerton.....63
30 - Today I talked with the Patient Representatives.....llbear.....62
Top Mojo with No Exclusions:
1 - Tip Jar.....Badabing.....545
2 - Tip Jar.....Alan Grayson.....434
3 - Tip Jar.....AnnetteK.....400
4 - Tip Jar.....Eclectablog.....368
5 - Tip Jar.....Pinecone.....313
6 - Fake tip jar........blackwaterdog.....300
7 - Tip Jar.....nandssmith.....281
8 - Tip Jar.....webranding.....274
9 - Tip Jar.....LaurenMonica.....263
10 - Tip Jar.....davidj98104.....232
11 - Tip Jar.....Brainwrap.....213
12 - Breaking: Teabaggers Adopt New U. S. Flag:.....leonard145b.....199
13 - Tip Jar.....slinkerwink.....193
14 - Tip Jar.....indiemcemopants.....168
15 - I understand Grayson.....nandssmith.....152
16 - I think the Repubs........KingOneEye.....144
17 - You know, I'm getting sick and tired.....Jeff Y.....139
18 - I disagree......PinHole.....134
19 - Remember.....Eddie C.....126
20 - I thought we said goodbye to that criminal.....xxdr zombiexx.....119
21 - Tip Jar.....ARDem.....106
22 - Tip Jar.....innereye.....100
23 - Thanks for this diary. I've been to Oklahoma City.....hideinplainsight.....98
24 - Fox News.....president raygun.....95
25 - Me too, Salo, but this letter.....sherlyle.....93
26 - Scritchie Jar.....triciawyse.....91
27 - Good morning!.....Frankenoid.....88
28 - Tip Jar.....Tom J.....88
29 - Only Joe Biden isn't photoshopped......xxdr zombiexx.....87
30 - I love it!.....dryfoo.....85