Loose Ends: Washington Subordinates Mexico Through Security Agreements

Posted by admin on Jan 30th, 2009

Mexico’s drug war fits into the rubric of the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the US security agenda by Carlos Fazio, La Jornada

One. In the days leading up to the arrival of the first package of US armament, intelligence software, and military consultancy under Plan Mexico, Felipe Calderon’s so-called “Operation Clean-up” takes on the appearance of a tribute to the White House and Capitol Hill.  Beyond the religious connotation of the “operation’s” name, which refers to a dualistic Christian discourse: good/bad, clean/dirty, the leader with “clean hands,” who declared himself an admirer of General Francisco Franco, seems to be carrying out a purification ritual.

Calderon’s purifying clean-up, in a “war” against the bad and the dirty, has impacted the spy and counterspy apparatus of the Federal Police’s Anti-drug Division in the Public Security Ministry, and of the Assistant Attorney General’s Officer for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO in its Spanish initials), the Federal Attorney General’s Office’s par excellence[1] anti-mafia agency.  The uncomtaminated bosses of both agencies, Genaro García Luna and Eduardo Medina Mora[2].  The pruning also affected Interpol-Mexico director Ricardo Gutierrez and Brigadier General Roberto Aguilera–one of the military officials closest to the ex-Secretary of National Defense, General Gerardo Clemente Vega–who during the Fox administration acted as chief of the National Security Department’s Anti-drug Intelligence Center.  At that time, Aguilera was the Mexican Embassy’s military attaché in Argentina.

Two. It’s not a trivial point that the purging of top Mexican police and military intelligence officials has come from the denunciation of a US Drug Enforcement Agency “protected witness” who was detained in Washington this past July 2.  He is ex-federal police agent José Alberto Pérez Guerrero, nicknamed “Felipe.”  That is to say, it is US intelligence agencies, not Mexican ones, who control an investigation plagued with anomalies and inconsistencies.  Being that Calderon’s so-called Operation Clean-up–which alludes vis a vis to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina[3]–is only a tribute to the US Congress, which last May conditioned the approval of the Merida Initiative’s paltry counterinsurgent “aid” (200 million dollars in kind for 2008[sic.  see note 4]) on the auditing of Mexican military and police units and a series of meddling “legal and juridical reforms.”

Three. Both Operation Clean-up and Plan Mexico (defined by a Bush administration official as a “significant step” in Mexico’s relationship with the United States in security matters) have to do with a component that is rarely addressed.  That is, the network of formal and informal relationships that the US Embassy’s military group (the Defense Department, the National Security Agency, the CIA, the DEA, the FBI, etc.) historically establishes under the cloak of “collaboration agreements” with their local partners, including the armed forces’ intelligence subsystems and the country’s police departments.  The collaboration, which is often takes the form of “verbal agreements,” includes assistance with infrastructure, vehicles, equipment, training, and operational costs, including paying “human information sources” (spies).  Likewise, it permits that Mexican agents be subjected to lie detector tests and monitored by specialists from the US Embassy.

Four. US intelligence agencies’ deciding roll in the design of Mexican intelligence’s architecture is obvious in its penetration, which results in a dependent subordination.  The Merida Initiative (similar to Plan Colombia) is the counterinsurgent-style operative component established under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which militarizes the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Under the supervision of the Pentagon’s Northern Command, the SPP came about in March 2005 during the heat of George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism.”  It puts excessive emphasis on US security, as defined by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.  The Partnership seeks to impose a North America without borders, dissolving national sovereignty.  Towards that aim, it puts forth a discourse of fear, which claims that the primary threat that North America faces is transnational and asymmetric.  That is, it doesn’t advance the classic Westphalian model where there’s only confrontation between two states, but rather it alludes to terrorist entities, failed states, or dishonest nations that nourish individuals or small marginal groups who can possess weapons equipped with technical sophistication.

Five.  Beyond the beating of the war drums through leaks to the press by the leaders of the armed forces, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Public Security Ministry who are competing for the Merida Initiative’s resources and the national budget, Calderon’s “war” against the bad guys fits with the script and the asymmetrical threat devised by the imperial discourse.  In this context, an analysis entitled “The National Defense Department in Combat Against Drug Trafficking” defines the cartels as an “internal threat” that puts the “viability” of the nation at risk, and forsees a symbiosis between the mafias and “armed groups who are hostile to the government,” as well as a substantial increase in violence.  Faced with the specter of the “drug guerrilla,” which was also suggested by US drug tsar John Walters, the Mexican National Defense Department’s final solution is “annihilation.”  A long war of extermination.  In other words, the Colombia-ization of the country, which is exactly where Washington wants Mexico: with an army busy with policing tasks and distracted from its task of guarding and protecting the national territory.

[1] “Par excellence” is sarcasm.  Multiple high-ranking SIEDO members have been arrested for selling their services to the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization at a price of about $400,000 per month.

[2] More sarcasm.  Both are accused of either protecting corrupt colleagues or being directly linked to drug trafficking organizations.

[3] Operation Murambatsvina is the Zimbabwe government’s program to forcibly clear out slum areas across the country.

[4] The actual amount is $400, but less than 15% of the total aid package is conditioned.  The rest of the aid is unconditional.

Translation and notes by Kristin Bricker.

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