Mexico: Pockets Of Ungovernability

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February 15, 2010: Since the early days of the Cartel War, president Felipe Calderon has been pursuing a comprehensive reform strategy. Calderon has insisted that economic, social, and judicial reforms are necessary to assure a victory over the nation's endemic corruption. The war requires military and police power, but the cartels and their bought politicians and judges make use of a corrupt system that has long cheated Mexicans and denied them justice. Calderon understood that in many places in Mexico the criminal networks were deeply embedded in the government and business sectors. The government regarded these places as outside the control of the state (you will also see the phrase “pockets of ungovernability”). The Cartel War's military component is designed to stop the these ungovernable areas from growing (expanding) and then reducing them. The non-military lines of operation are designed to change the dysfunctional social and political conditions that led to the ungovernability. However, his critics seem to have missed these vital non-military dimensions of Calderon's strategy. When the Calderon government announced an “aid package” to fight the cartels in Ciudad Juarez (to help build schools and fund job training programs), several commentators claimed that the government had suddenly realized it needed a “multi-dimensional strategy.” You have to wonder where they have been. The Calderon government has been the most successful reformist government in Mexican history. The Ciudad Juarez aid package is an operational expression of what has been a comprehensive strategy. But that does not make as hot a headline as claiming the president is stupid.

February 13, 2010: The army arrested a second suspect (Arzate Melendez, nicknamed “El Contry”) in the January 31 mass murders in Ciudad Juarez. Melendez was caught driving a stolen SUV, and admitted that his hit team had been assigned to kill members of the Artistas Asesinos gang, which works for the Sinaloa cartel. It turns out the 16 teenagers the gang murdered recently were merely attending a birthday party, and slaughtered by mistake. This mass murder caused nationwide revulsion, and calls for action.

Federal police arrested the former mayor of the town of Petatlan (Guerrero state). Rogaciano Alba Alvarez is accused of providing both La Familia Michoacana cartel and the Sinaloa drug cartel with weapons and being involved in drug trafficking in Guerrero state.

February 9, 2010: Authorities detained two drug gang leaders in Tijuana (Baja California state). Soldiers and police announced that Manuel Garcia Simental and Raydel Lopez Uriarte were arrested in two separate operations.

February 8, 2010: Here is a stunning statistic. According to the government, Mexico's homicide rate has fallen over the last twelve years. The rate in 1997 was 17 homicides per 100,000 people. In 2009 it was 14 per 100,000. That means despite the Cartel War, the homicide rate is lower than a decade ago. As for cities, Mexico City's rate in 2008 was 9 per 100,000. In 2008 the Washington, D.C. Homicide rate was right at 30 per 100,000. But in some Mexican border cities, where most of the killing goes on, the homicide rate is over 100 per 100,000.

February 7, 2010: The latest unofficial figure used by Mexican media for drug war-related murders in 2009 is 6,587, while 5,207 occurred in 2008. In 2007 an estimated 2,275 people were killed.

February 6, 2010: Cartel hit men broke into a nightclub in Mazatlan (Sinaloa state) and murdered six people.

State officials announced the governor of Chihuahua's office, state legislative offices, and state judicial offices are planning to move to Ciudad Juarez. The state officials believe the move will help strengthen public confidence in the besieged city.

February 5, 2010: A recent media report estimated that the Sinaloa cartel brings in $3.8 billion a year to the state of Sinaloa. The same report estimated that is about 20 percent of the state's GDP. This may well be true. The Sinaloa cartel leaders boast that they run an international business with major subsidiaries in the US (particularly Phoenix, Arizona).

February 1, 2010: The leader of the drug gang cell from the Los Aztecas group that murdered 16 young people in Ciudad Juarez, was slain by Mexican Army soldiers in a gun battle. The senior cartel gunman was identified as Adrian Ramirez, (nicknamed “El Doce”). Los Aztecas work for the Juarez drug gang. Mexican media reported the hit men may have thought the partygoers were associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel. The Sinaloa cartel and the Juarez cartel are engaged in a long-term turf war over control of the drug business in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua state.

January 31, 2010: A drug gang hit team attacked a house party in Ciudad Juarez and murdered 16 people. Most of the dead were teenagers.

 

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