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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEditorials | Opinions | March 2009 

Joint Forces Command, Medina Mora and the Mexican Cartel War
email this pageprint this pageemail usAllan Wall - PVNN

It would be great if Medina Mora's prognosis were correct, and not just government spin. It's a complicated issue driven by many factors. Whatever the future holds, in the here and now the killings continue...
Will the drug cartel related violence in Mexico ever let up? In 2008, there were 6,290 people killed in drug cartel-related violence. And in just January and February of 2009 alone, 1,113 were killed.

The Mexican government has announced a new deployment of 5,000 Mexican army troops and nearly 2,000 federal agents to the northern state of Chihuahua, especially to Ciudad Juarez, which lies across the border from El Paso, Texas. Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont vows not to cede even one centimeter to the narcos, and says that "we are going to expel them from Ciudad Juarez."

The ongoing carnage continues to attract a lot of attention north of the border too. An analysis released in November by the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFC) set forth a very disturbing scenario, which in turn provoked rebuttals by the Mexican government.

The document in question was the 2008 "JOE" analysis. ("JOE" is an acronym for Joint Operating Environment.) After hearing the hoopla, I actually looked it up on the Internet to see for myself.

Regarding Mexico, the JOE analysis stated that:

"In particular, the growing assault by the drug cartels and their thugs on the Mexican government over the past several years reminds one that an unstable Mexico could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States."

The JOE sets forth a worst-case scenario:

"In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico."

After dealing with the Pakistan scenario, the Mexican worst-case scenario is presented:

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

This document attracted a lot of attention in Mexico, where Calderon administration officials have rebuffed the view that Mexico is about to become a "failed state."

Amidst all the sound and fury, it's worth noting that the JOE analysis does not predict a "rapid and sudden collapse" of Mexico. It just presents it, in analytical fashion, as a worst-case scenario. But if it ever really did happen, it really would be.

On February 26th, 2009, the Associated Press interviewed Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, who managed to put a positive spin on a grim situation.

The AP reported Mexico's AG as believing that "the worst is nearly over" and that the drug cartels are "melting down."

Mexico's top cop wants to make it so hard for smugglers that they stop using Mexico as the route to smuggle narcotics to the U.S.: "We want to raise the opportunity cost of our country as a route of choice."

The violence itself, says Medina Mora, is evidence of the success of the government's strategy, because it "is not reflecting the power of these groups. It is reflecting how they are melting down."

Regarding the violence, Medina Mora pointed out that about 90% of those killed were narco-traffickers, 6% were soldiers and policeman, with only 4% being uninvolved bystanders caught in the crossfire. True, but the violence is becoming more random in nature.

I recently visited Mexico during Christmas vacation, my first visit after my recent relocation to the United States, after having resided in Mexico for many years. In the metropolitan area in which I was staying, there was a shootout in an exclusive neighborhood and another shootout downtown, in which gunfire endangered the lives of shoppers in a traditional marketplace.

In the AP interview, Medina Mora said "I believe we are reaching the peak" of the violence. So how will Mexico's leaders know when they've won? They won't, said Medina Mora, "until Mexican citizens feel they have achieved tranquility."

It would be great if Medina Mora's prognosis were correct, and not just government spin. It's a complicated issue driven by many factors.

Will the Calderon administration triumph in the drug war, will the JOE worst-case scenario come to pass, or will some as-yet-unrealized outcome emerge?

Whatever the future holds, in the here and now the killings continue...
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.

Click HERE for more articles by Allan Wall.



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