Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Peña Nieto still avoids key drug war issue: will Mexican armed forces participate?

MGRR Opinion - Enrique's Magnificent Juggling Act - see it today!

If U.S. vice president Joe Biden came to Mexico with the hope that he'd get some words of comfort and commitment from Enrique Peña Nieto, he must have been disappointed by his meeting with the PRI candidate. According to press accounts, Peña Nieto told Biden that he'd continue the struggle against Mexico's drug cartels, but "not with the same strategy." Which is rather like saying, "I support this war, but no army, of course . . ."

There's no indication that EPN told the vice president just what his strategy would be. In fact, there's no indication that Peña Nieto himself knows what it would be. No wonder few in Washington are encouraged by the prospects of a PRI victory on July 1. Particularly since the canceled checks -- all of them with a memo notation of Mérida Initiative -- now add up to over $1 billion USD.

Mexico's 63 month old drug war, launched by president Felipe Calderón in December 2006 and commonly called the National Security Strategy, has as its centerpiece the use of well trained and well equipped military units. There is evidence that the approach is working. On Feb. 28 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that Mexican-based drug cartels, facing increasing pressure from search-and-destroy missions launched by Calderón's troops, are moving their operations south across the Guatemala border (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-evidence-mexican-drug-war-strategy.html). Good news for Mexico, bad news for Central America.

PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota has repeatedly assured voters that she'd not pull the Mexican army from the drug fight until local police forces are ready to assume primary responsibility for anti-cartel operations (which is likely to take several years, at least). Conversely, PRD nominee Andrés Manuel López Obrador has stressed time and again that military forces will "be returned to their quarters" within six months if he's elected, and that responsibility for the battle will be handed over exclusively to municipal and state police (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/lopez-obrado-repeats-promise-to-pull.html). While the latter proposal is absurd, in my opinion, I tip my sombrero to López Obrador for candidly stating exactly what he has in mind. The entire purpose of a campaign is for the candidates to disclose meaningful details of what they'd do in office, especially on such an overarching issue as the drug war. Every politician and every party in this country agrees that Mexico confronts no greater single challenge in 2012.

Which brings us to Mr. Peña Nieto. Last November, while on a brief get-to-know-me visit to the United States, he said he would remove Mexico's military forces from the drug war (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/pris-likley-presidential-candidate.html). But in January he told a campaign rally that his administration would wage "front line combat" against the cartels, a remark which might well be interpreted as abandonment of the statements he made in the U.S. (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-enrique-pena-nieto-already-backing.html). Then yesterday the PRI nominee and spin doctor extraordinaire returned yet again to ambiguities, promising the vice president that he was indeed "on the team" but would employ a different, albeit undisclosed strategy (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/felipe-calderon-welcomes-vp-joe-biden.html). What strategy, Mr. Candidate? The formal campaign opens in 24 days.

Enrique Peña Nieto should tell Mexico, should tell the United States and should tell the world what his game plan is. As soon as he gets it figured out, that is.

Memo to Enique Peña Nieto: Mexico is waiting: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/memo-to-enique-pena-nieto-mexico-is.html.
Now just which candidate was Sen. John McCain referring to?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/sen-john-mccain-expresses-doubt-about.html.
Federal troops take over police functions in Veracruz: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/federal-troops-take-over-police.html.
Josefina and Enrique: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/josefina-and-enrique.html.
Is alleged PRI-narco connection fair election fodder?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/is-alleged-pri-narco-connection-fair.html.
The beast in the cave and the soap opera actor: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/monster-in-dark-cave-and-soap-opera.html.
The "disgusting, lawless, detestable" PRI: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/writer-excoriates-mexicos-pri-party.html.
Enrique Peña Nieto admits, "I was unfaithful": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/pena-nieto-admits-i-was-unfaithful-and.html.
El Gran Amante (The Great Lover) Enrique Peña Nieto: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/el-gran-amante-many-romances-of-enrique.html#more.
López Obrador says "hug'em, don't shoot'em!": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/as-pan-primary-campaign-winds-down.html

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