Mex­ico drug war lacks clear strat­egy

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

MEX­ICO CITY: Mex­ico's 4-year-old as­sault on drug car­tels lacks a clear strat­egy and a mod­ern­ized mil­i­tary, and suf­fers from in­fight­ing among se­cu­rity agen­cies, ac­cord­ing to U.S. State Depart­ment ca­bles leaked to Wik­iLeaks.

The clas­si­fied and se­cret memos posted on sev­eral me­dia web­sites Thurs­day stand in stark con­trast to the pub­lic dec­la­ra­tions by Mex­ico and the U.S. about the suc­cess of the war on or­ga­nized crime. The ca­bles call into ques­tion many of the ef­forts pub­licly touted by the two coun­tries, from the use of the Mex­i­can army, which is de­scribed as out­dated, slow and risk averse, to the United States' $1.4 bil­lion Merida Ini­tia­tive, which is seen as ill-con­ceived and do­ing lit­tle so far to fight drug traf­fick­ers.

In one cable, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton asks about how the stress is af­fect­ing Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon's "per­son­al­ity and man­age­ment style," while a cable by U.S. Am­bas­sador to Mex­ico Car­los Pas­cual notes that Calderon has ad­mit­ted to hav­ing a tough year and has ap­peared "down" in meet­ings.

"Calderon has ag­gres­sively at­tacked Mex­ico's drug-traf­fick­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions but has strug­gled with an un­wieldy and un­co­or­di­nated in­ter­a­gency and spi­ral­ing rates of vi­o­lence that have made him vul­ner­a­ble to crit­i­cism that his anti-crime strat­egy has failed," reads a Jan. 29 memo called "Sce­ne­set­ter for Open­ing of the De­fense Bi­lat­eral Work­ing Group" that also crit­i­cizes com­pe­ti­tion among Mex­i­can se­cu­rity agen­cies, cor­rup­tion and Mex­ico's abysmally low pros­e­cu­tion rate.

In a memo date Oct. 5, 2009, then-Un­der­sec­re­tary for the In­te­rior Geron­imo Gu­tier­rez Fer­nan­dez, who over­saw do­mes­tic se­cu­rity, "expressed a real con­cern with ' los­ing' cer­tain re­gions."

"It is dam­ag­ing Mex­ico's in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion, hurt­ing for­eign in­vest­ment, and lead­ing to a sense of govern­ment im­po­tence, Gu­tier­rez said," ac­cord­ing to the memo.

"If we do not pro­duce a tan­gi­ble suc­cess that is rec­og­niz­able to the Mex­i­can peo­ple, it will be dif­fi­cult to sus­tain the con­fronta­tion into the next ad­min­is­tra­tion," the memo quotes him as say­ing.

Calderon has in­sisted that the spike in vi­o­lence that has killed more than 28,000 peo­ple since 2006 is a sign that the drug car­tels are on the ropes and that the govern­ment con­trols all ar­eas of the coun­try.

U.S. of­fi­cials stage pub­lic cer­e­monies for the han­dover of he­li­copters and other Merida Ini­tia­tive equip­ment and talk about Mex­ico's re­form from a closed to an oral trial sys­tem a key tool in fight­ing the drug war.

Pri­vately the U.S. notes: "Pros­e­cu­tion rates for or­ga­nized crime-re­lated of­fenses are dis­mal; 2 per­cent of those de­tained are brought to trial. Only 2 per­cent of those ar­rested in Ciudad Juarez have even been charged with a crime." -Ap

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