El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for August 3rd, 2009

From DMN report on Juarez: “The corruption is deeper than we ever imagined”

From the Dallas Morning News, Mexican officials defend drug war strategy as deaths rise, by Alfredo Corchado (an El Paso ex-pat, by the way).

An excerpt:

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico – As the drug war’s bloodiest month ever in this border city ended, the administration of President Felipe Calderón defended its strategy for battling powerful drug cartels but signaled that it will make adjustments as needed.

In a visit to Ciudad Juárez last week, Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont said the administration is considering adjustments to the strategy – which relies on the deployment of thousands of soldiers and federal police agents – but insisted that any shift would come in response to a change in tactics by the cartels.

“This is not the moment for being complacent or for anticipating defeat,” Gómez Mont said. “The operation is going well, and it’s constantly being evaluated to make it more efficient. The operation will continue.”

Critics have said that the government’s approach relies too much on the military and not enough on local institutions such as local law enforcement authorities.

As of Friday night, at least 244 people had been killed in July in Ciudad Juárez, the highest monthly death toll since 1911 – during the Mexican revolution – and a 100 percent increase from a year ago, according to Norte de Ciudad Juárez newspaper, which keeps a daily tally.

In all, more than 2,800 people have been killed in the city since the battle for control of one of the most lucrative smuggling routes into the United States – with direct ties to North Texas – began in January 2008.

Nationwide, more than 4,000 people have been killed in organized-crime violence this year.

Although Gómez Mont did not elaborate on his comments, other Mexican and U.S. officials said the Calderón administration may begin withdrawing troops from Juárez and other trouble spots this fall, provided the situation has stabilized. The troops would be replaced by newly trained and better-paid police officers.

One senior Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the military does not have the training or intelligence capabilities to effectively take on the cartels.

“The truth is we miscalculated,” the official said. “The corruption is deeper than we ever imagined, and our human intelligence is weak.”

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

August 3, 2009 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

WashPost: U.S.-backed Drug War in Mexico losing popular support

From the Washington Post, New Strategy Urged in Mexico; Calderón’s U.S.-Backed War Against Drug Cartels Losing Political Support, by William Booth and Steve Fainaru.

An excerpt:

Drug-related deaths during the 2 1/2 years of Calderon’s administration passed 12,000 this month. Rather than shrinking or growing weaker, the Mexican cartels are using their wealth and increasing power to expand into Central America, cocaine-producing regions of the Andes and maritime trafficking routes in the eastern Pacific, according to law enforcement authorities.

In Mexico, neither high-profile arrests nor mass troop deployments have stopped the cartels from unleashing spectacular acts of violence. This month, the cartel called La Familia launched three days of coordinated attacks in eight cities in the western state of Michoacan. Responding to the arrest of one its leaders, La Familia abducted, tortured and killed a dozen federal agents; their corpses were found piled up beside a highway.

In Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Calderón flooded the city with 10,000 troops and federal police officers in February in an effort to stem runaway violence. After a two-month lull, drug-related homicides surged 307 percent, to nearly eight killings a day in June. On Wednesday, a man eating lunch at a Denny’s restaurant across the street from the U.S. Consulate was shot six times in the head by a trio of gunmen.

Lawmakers in Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, debated this month whether Calderón’s surge was “a total failure.” Antonio Andreu, president of the state legislature’s commission on security, said it appears that drug gangs have infiltrated the military’s intelligence networks and figured out how to circumvent the gauntlet of security forces in Juarez.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

August 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized