Mexico’s President-Elect Signals “Internationalization” of Drug War

Mexico’s President-Elect Signals “Internationalization” of Drug War

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MEXICO CITY – Mexicans have long grown weary of their country’s prolonged War on Drugs. Now, with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto set to take office in December, it appears change may finally be in the offing.

That change, however, may not be what most Mexicans were expecting.

“A transnational phenomenon requires a transnational strategy,” Óscar Naranjo, Colombia’s former director of the National Police and current advisor to Peña Nieto, told reporters last week.  “No country can succeed in an insular and isolated manner if it is to achieve timely or definitive victories.”

Far from “re-envisioning” the approach taken by outgoing President Felipe Calderon, credited with having launched the crackdown on the country’s drug cartels in 2006, Peña Nieto is preparing the Mexican people for a major escalation. It is a shift that could draw in military forces from Mexico’s neighbors, including the United States.

Mexico has not had foreign troops on its soil since the U.S. invaded in 1847. The country’s constitution bans foreign troops from its territory. But Mexican officials have been quietly developing strategies for circumventing these prohibitions. 

High-ranking advisors suggest one strategy would be to develop a “multinational” military force comprised of American, Colombian and Chilean military advisors to work with Mexican marines and special forces under an international mandate.

“Not only the United States, but the world, must ally with Mexico to help Mexico overcome the challenge of transnational crime,” Naranjo continued. 

Still, he insisted, the final “solution to the Mexican problem remains in the hands of Mexicans.” It is an assertion that ignores one crucial fact: the War on Drugs has never been in the hands of the Mexicans. During the recent presidential campaign, none of the candidates were willing to touch the issue.

Josefina Vazquez, candidate from Calderón’s National Action party (PAN), made no mention of it, presumably because she did not want to remind voters that it was her party that first launched the campaign. Peña Nieto steered clear knowing that governors from his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) stood accused of collaborating with drug traffickers, or being corrupted by them. The leftist candidate, Andrés López Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), avoided discussing the War on Drugs simply because he had no new ideas to offer.

Their collective reluctance to broach the subject was cause for much discussion throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

But now that Peña Nieto is well on his way to the presidential palace, he is beginning to reveal his strategy.

For several years Mexico has availed itself of the United States for assistance, including the sending of Mexican marines to the U.S. for Pentagon training in counter-intelligence and special forces military strikes. 

“We have learned from American officers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a Mexican marine corporal, who asked that his name not be used as he is not authorized to speak to the media, told American reporters in October 2011. “The Americans suffer from similar types of ambushes in their wars, and have learned how to respond to them in a tight, disciplined way. We apply those techniques to our fight here.”

The training of Mexican marines for Iraq- and Afghanistan-style warfare by the Pentagon is only part of the “transnational” approach pursued by Calderón.  Mexico has received intelligence from the U.S. military as well.

“A sea change has occurred over the past years in how effective Mexico and U.S. intelligence exchanges have become,” Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, confirmed to the New York Times a year ago. “It is underpinned by the understanding that transnational organized crime can only be successfully confronted by working hand in hand, and that the outcome is as simple as it is compelling: we will together succeed or together fail.”

This gradual escalation is set to accelerate once Peña Nieto takes office, with speculation that Mexico might make an appeal to the Organization of American States (OAS) or the United Nations for “help” in preventing the emergence of a “narco-state.” 

Under this scenario, Latin American countries and the United States would come to the “assistance” of Mexico with the authorization of an OAS declaration or a United Nations resolution affirming the legitimate need for assistance by the Mexican government.

Such help has already come, albeit in clandestine fashion, from the United States. Last year it was revealed that American drones authorized by the Obama administration had violated Mexican airspace. “Stepping up its involvement in Mexico’s drug war, the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence,” the New York Times reported.

For the White House, it was an embarrassing revelation. But what was “embarrassing” in 2011 may now be part of Peña Nieto’s new strategy, one well timed with events north of the border.

As American involvement in Iraq winds down and U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan are scaled back, the additional personnel may allow U.S. military officials to contemplate “limited” and “strategic” operations to assist in a “multinational” effort for other missions in Latin America. 

This “transnational” nature of the War on Drugs that Mexican officials are now openly discussing is part of a national conversation swirling through the Mexican capital, anticipating how such an approach might succeed where the current Mexico-alone strategy has failed. 

For Peña Nieto, it is clear that had he openly debated this course of action, the presidential election might have turned out differently.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Aug 6 2012

Wow. Looks like if u do something wrong 100 times in a row then the 101th time has got to work, right? Well whatever I guess when Jesus comes again to earth he'll fix all this (rolling eyes).

Anonymous

Posted Aug 6 2012

"....MIGHT have turnes out differently"????? It DID turn out differently. Pena Nieto lost and leftist PRD candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador won fair and square and everyone in Mexico knows this. Fraud is an understatement.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 6 2012

Well like alcohol in the US the true answer was legalization with the 21st Amendment. This will end drug wars because there will be no money in it for drug gangs. There will be huge taxes collected by government from taxes on drugs and taxing profits and wages made by Americans producing a cleaner product and actually like Portugal found out drug use will drop some like alcohol use dropped some after the 21st Amendment. JMHO

malcolmkyle

Posted Aug 6 2012

Corporate greed and individual bigotry have accelerated us towards a situation where all the usual peaceful and democratic methods, which can usually be employed to reverse such acute damage, no longer function as our founders intended. Such a political impasse coupled with our great economic tribulation is precisely that which throughout history has often ignited extreme social upheaval and violent revolution.

“To function as the founders intended, our republic requires that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787

Fortunately we are left with one last peaceful avenue for change: Jury Nullification.

Jury Nullification is a constitutional doctrine that allows juries to acquit defendants who are technically guilty but do not deserve punishment. All non-violent 'drug offenders' who are not selling to children, be they users, dealers or importers, clearly belong in this category.

If you sincerely believe that prohibition is a dangerous and counter-productive policy, then you must stop helping to enforce it. You are entitled to act according to your conscience: Acquit the defendant/s if you feel that true justice requires such a result. You, the juror, have the very last word!

* It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict.
* You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention before taking your seat on a jury.
* You are also not required to give a reason to the other jurors on your position when voting. Simply state that you find the accused not guilty!
* Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. If the Judge and the other jurors disapprove, too bad. There is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion.

“It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” —John Adams

We must create what we can no longer afford to wait for: PLEASE VOTE TO ACQUIT!

Anonymous

Posted Aug 6 2012

Successful policies should be retained and expanded while unsuccessful policies should be ended. The Drug War is 100% wholly UNSUCCESSFUL!!

The ONLY way to beat these criminals is for the U.S. to allow stores to sell legally-grown cannabis to adults at prices too low for criminals to match. Legalization drove bootleggers off our streets and legalization will drive drug dealers off our streets too! Drug Dealers Don't Card, Supermarkets Do!!

Anonymous

Posted Aug 6 2012

This will rapidly bring cannabis prohibition to an end, as there's no money for the war on users to continue, much less expand. Prohibitionists just hammered the final nail in their own coffins.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 7 2012

Who are these EVIL PUPPET MASTERS end this madness and legalize and let people visit a beautiful country again

Anonymous

Posted Aug 9 2012

Mexico had French troops on its soil in 1860 - 1867 and German advisors there in 1914 at the same time the Americans last surged into Veracruz and the border in search of Pancho Villa. The rest of your piece is leaky, too.

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