The possibility that the neighbor of the United States could sink into violence and anarchy represents an unexpected challenge for Barack Obama's next government.
In its most recent report about foreseeing possible risks to global security, the Joint Command Forces of the United States placed Mexico and Pakistan in the same category. It pointed out that both countries are in danger of a "fast and sudden collapse." In its report published on November 25, the command pointed out "The possibilities that (that may occur in) Mexico appear small, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure, are all under pressure and a sustained assault by criminal gangs and narcotraffic cartels. "The form that this internal conflict may take during the coming years will have a relevant impact on the stability of the Mexican government."
- One more challenge for Obama
The ex chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Michael Hayden told the Mexican press on Friday that Mexico and Iran represented the major challenges for Obama, including over Iraq.
The Department of Justice of the United States pointed out last month that Mexico's criminal gangs represent the "major organized crime threat for the United States."
Stephen Hadley, national security advisor, said last week that the worsening of violence threatens democracy itself in Mexico.
The Secretary of Internal Security (sic) of the United States, Michael Chertoff, told The New York Times that he had ordered the elaboration of additional security plans, at midyear, to avoid that kidnappings and assassinations would extend into American territory.
The alarm is also extending into the private sector. Mexico, Latin America's second largest economy and the third largest provider of petroleum to the United States, is one of the 10 principal global threats for 2009 identified by the Eurasia Group, consultants based in New York.
Mexico has underestimated the preoccupations by the United States.
On Wednesday, Fernando Gomez Montt, Mexican Secretary of Government, said "What does seem to me inadmissible is that the Mexican State be considered as a security risk. There are problems in Mexico that are being attended to, that can be attended to more and better, and that's where we are, what exists is everyone's absolute commitment."
Nevertheless, Obama will find a very different panorama in the neighbor to the south, compared with what George W. Bush found. In 2000, when Bush was elected, Mexico had just elected Vicente Fox in elections considered the cleanest in history, which put an end to 71 years of a single party in power. Mexicans were hopeful of a stable and democratic future.
Fox suggested that he was ready to confront the narcotrafficking cartels, but he placed them in a power vacuum by arresting its leaders. Since then, gangs fight each other for territory.
Seeking to regain control, Felipe CalderÃ³n, who succeeded Fox in 2006, immediately placed military forces in the whole country. But the soldiers and police are outnumbered and outgunned, and the narcotraffickers have answered with unprecedented violence.
Deaths attributed to narcotraffic doubled from 2007 and added up to more than 5,300 last year. Mutilated cadavers, some without heads, show up in the streets of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana practically every morning.
Some victims are dumped at schools. The majority turns up wrapped in blankets and abandoned in empty lots.
Few cadavers are identified because relatives are afraid of coming to claim them. The majority of assassinations go unpunished.
The battling cartels continue controlling vast areas of Mexico, despite the offensive undertaken by CalderÃ³n more than two years ago.. They have let loose an extended culture of violence, from which no one is immune.
Some businesses have closed because their owners cannot pay the monthly extortion amounts which the local gangs demand. Many wealthy persons have fled to the United States so as not to join the list of kidnapping victims, a crime about which Mexico occupies one of the first places in the world. Others have decided not to leave their houses at night.
The government has also launched a campaign to combat corruption in its ranks, "Operation Cleanup" after some of its prominent security chiefs were accused of being at the service of the Cartel of Sinaloa, a northwestern state of the country.
Several soldiers who fight the narcotrafficking gangs were kidnapped, decapitated and dumped in a city to the south of Mexico (City), with a warning: "For every one of mine that they kill, we're going to kill ten of theirs."
- Conditioned support
The United States government has manifested its support to the Mexican president decidedly (by) recently giving it more than 400 million dollars in assistance to combat drugs. Last week, Obama met briefly with CalderÃ³n in Washington and promised to combat the illegal U.S. firearms traffic destined to the Mexican cartels.
Although fewer Americans are willing to cross into the Mexican border area to enjoy a "margarita" or to buy handicrafts, visitors to other parts of Mexico continue to arrive. The Mexican economy seems more hurt by the global crisis than by the growing violence.
The gloomy perspectives arising from the border ruled the Mexican press headlines, but surprised few in Mexico.
Many say that the solution is for the United States to furnish more aid and to allow the entry of migrants who, otherwise, are tempted to dedicate themselves to drug smuggling to earn a living.
Otherwise, violence will propagate with more intensity toward the United States, said Manuel Infante, an architect.
"There is a wave of barbarism that is trying to reach you" said Infante, in reference to the Americans. "We are an uncomfortable neighbor," he added.
Cambio de MichoacÃ¡n (Morelia, MichoacÃ¡n) 1/20/09
"At least" a dozen Central Americans who had entered Mexico illegally were arrested by police in Morelia, MichoacÃ¡n. One of the detained illegals complained that the police had taken their money and had threatened to beat them.
El Imparcial (Hermosillo, Sonora) 1/20/09
- A joint operation between U.S. Border Patrol and Mex. federal police personnel resulted in the finding of three "narcotunnels" in the area between Nogales, AZ, and Nogales, Sonora. No arrests were made; at least one of the tunnels was under construction.
- 232 Nogales, Sonora, police officers are being made to undergo drug detection exams.
El Financiero (Mexico City) 1/20/09
Thirty-one persons from Central American countries were found hidden in the double bottom of a tractor trailer under a load of animal hides. The find took place at a checkpoint in Chiapas, not far from the Guatemalan border. None of the 31 had documents.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FORMER BORDER PATROL OFFICERS
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Foreign News Report
The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) extracts and condenses the material that follows from Mexican and Central and South American on-line media sources on a daily basis.