Category Archives: Military

AMLO picks a fight with the Army

The general in charge of human rights for the Army responded angrily to Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s criticism of the armed forces.

Starting with statements made during his NYC trip, AMLO has accused the military of complicity in the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotiznapa and of participation in more than 100 “massacres” ordered by Presidents Calderón and Peña Nieto.  He twittered that, “When we triumph, we will no longer use the Army to repress the people.”

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The Army human rights spokesman, General Beltrán said:

Anyone who has proof of human of human rights violations committed by soldiers, as some public figures have alleged, must present them.

Digging in, AMLO has countered that he commands the full support of the rank and file, and ignored the complaints of the military leadership and politicians supporting them:

It’s very clear that the soldiers are the people in uniform; they are the sons of peasants, sons of workers…. In the 2006 and 2012 elections the soldiers — the troops — voted for change, they voted for us, and they will do the same in 2018.  The soldiers will support change.

Columnist Salvador García Soto notes that picking a fight with the military leadership isn’t going to benefit any candidate and, “it brings to mind the popular saying that the fish dies by its own mouth.  And this just might snag López Obrador.”

(Sources: El Financiero, SPD Noticias, El Universal)

Poll shows strong public support for using Army and Marines to fight organized crime

A poll carried out by the Chamber of Deputies, which is currently debating the new internal security law, showed that almost 80% of those surveyed supported giving legal authorization for the Army and the Marines to fight organized crime.

Milenio poll 1

The survey of 900 persons carried out by the Chamber’s Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion also showed some clear limitations on the powers they approved the military having.

Those surveyed said the military should:

  • Be able to put down demonstrations using force: 74% NO
  • Be able to carry out communications surveillance or collect personal information: 55% NO
  • Be able to carry out criminal investigations: 61% YES
  • Be able to take criminal complaints and testimony of criminal acts: 62% YES

 

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The poll also showed in stark terms the difference between public confidence in the Army and the Marines lack of trust in local and state police forces, and even the Federal Police.

Reported in Milenio.

 

What the U.S. says vs what Mexico hears

Even when President Trump and senior U.S. officials go out of their way to say positive things about cooperation with Mexico, their manner of expression reinforces negative interpretations of their intentions.  Two current examples from Trump’s interview before the Super Bowl and Secretary Kelly’s testimony in Congress together with Mexican columnist reactions:

What the U.S. says:

Trump: We have to do something about the cartels. I did talk to [Peña Nieto] about it. I want to help him with it. … He seemed very willing to get help from us because he has got a problem, and it’s a real problem for us. … We get along very well. But they have problems controlling aspects of their country.

Kelly: If the drugs are in the United States, we’ve lost. … I think a huge partner here is Mexico. If we can help them get after the poppy production, … if we can help them get after the production labs, if we can help them get after the heroin, the methamphetamine … before it gets to the border.

What Mexican commentators hear: 

Alejandro Hope: The “aid” that Trump is supposedly offering isn’t aid:  it is war. … There isn’t … a recognition of the co-responsibility of the two countries with the problem of transnational organized crime.  … Trump’s offer is … bullets for the narcos in Mexico – period. If this is aid, I prefer open threats.

Salvador García Soto: What Trump suggested and Kelly confirmed is to take the Merida Initiative to the next level and relaunch it as a new “Plan Mexico,” similar to “Plan Colombia.” … a military assistance plan … which the Americans would coordinate and execute–with the Mexican army and police as “allies” and subordinates.

Raymundo Riva Palacio:  This plan would signify the end of the ability of Los Pinos [the Mexican White House] to take independent and autonomous decisions, through a monumental qualitative change in the bilateral cooperation over the past 10 years: the fight against drugs would depend strategically and tactically on the United States.

More extensive quotes are below.

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Government data shows 15,000 organized crime-related homicides in 2010

The government released for the first time comprehensive data (Mexico Segob homicide database) on killings related to organized crime. Ministry of Government spokesman Alejandro Poiré said the disclosure was “an exercise of transparency without precedent in Mexico, and with few precedents in the world.” The database includes killings month by month from December 2006 (when Felipe Calderón took office) through December 2010 for more than 1,100 municipalities across the country.

Some highlights from the government data:

  • Overall killings spiked to more than 15,000 in 2010, an increase of 59% from 2009. The government’s figures are significantly higher than those compiled (and published weekly) by the major newspapers. Reforma for example, recorded 11,583
  • On a quarterly basis, the peak was 2Q and 3Q 2010.  The rate of killings was down 10% in 4Q10, though the government was unwilling to say this was the beginning of a trend.
  • Since December 2006, 70% of the killings have been concentrated in just 85 municipalities, concentrated along the U.S. border and the Pacific coast.

Poiré’s presentation is here: SEGOB Presentation on Organized Crime Killings, Jan 11

Pemex acknowledges production losses from security situation

In an interview, Carlos Morales Gil, the head of production and exploration for Pemex, acknowledged that the state oil company has had to shut in gas production of 150,000 cubic feet/day in the Burgos basin south of the Texas border because of the inability to ensure the security of some of the gas wells. (At US$3.50 per cu.ft., the lost production is the equivalent of US$525,000 per day.) Morales said there had been no news of the six Pemex employees who were kidnapped on May 23d.  “We’ve increased security, together with the Ministry of Defense, in the installations in the northeastern zone of the country, which has allowed us to partially recover the production that was reduced. However, there are zones where it is not safe to go, because of the crime threats to our people,” he said. (Reforma 11/10)

Killing of ‘Tony Tormenta’ keeps Marines on top

Naval marines surrounded and killed the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, aka Tony Tormenta and four of his bodyguards in a pitched battle in the border city of Matamoros. Columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio called it the government’s “most paradigmatic success in the 47 month long war against drugs.” The operation, which left three Marines dead and another four wounded, cements the position of the Marines as the elite agency for strikes against drug kingpins. Two reporters were also killed in the crossfire. The Navy said the operation to trap Cárdenas began six months ago with intelligence derived from the capture of some of the Gulf Cartel’s paramilitary wing, the Scorpions. The U.S. DEA also reportedly provided intelligence that assisted in locating Cárdenas. The Navy said that Cardenas had evaded capture on two separate occasions in the last month prior to this final operation.  The Marines deployed 660 troops, 3 helicopters, and 17 vehicles in the operation, while the Army provided an outer ring of security to prevent cartel reinforcements from reaching their leader.  (Eje Central 11/8)

NPR’s John Burnett has an extensive report on the military operation, the struggle between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, and the impact on Matamoros.

 

Drug war death toll passes 10,000 for the year

Death toll by month. Source: Reforma

According to the tally kept by Reforma, the death toll from the drug war passed the 10,000 mark this week, reaching 10,035 killed since the start of the year. This surpasses 2009’s full year record by more than 50%, with almost two months still to go.  (On the sporadic occasions when the government has released it’s own statistics they have been significantly higher than the tallies kept by the news organizations.) Of Reforma’s total, 52 were military and 637 were police officers.  Chihuahua continues to be the bloodiest state, with 2,797 killed.  (Reforma 11/4)

Death toll by state. Source: Reforma