Wednesday, March 14, 2012

U.S. general delivers qualified drug war report to Senate Armed Services members

Mexican narcos hard at work in 1,000 U.S. cities; identities known "to some extent"

Yesterday (Mar. 13) a U.S. Army general testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Sen. John McCain (R. Az.) is the Ranking Member. Since the topics of interest included Mexico's drug war and the deteriorating situation in Latin America (see posts below), the hearing was widely reported in Mexico. It probably passed by much of the U.S. media, which was busy covering the Republican primary contests on Tuesday.

General Charles H. Jacoby told committee members that despite the fact that the Calderón government has captured or killed 22 of the top 37 cartel operatives targeted by his administration in December 2006, drug traffickers and organized crime groups remain extremely powerful, especially in northeastern Mexico. He characterized the continuing violence and mounting death toll as "unacceptable," but said he believes the government here is pursuing the correct strategy, even if the results might suggest otherwise.

Jacoby said that Mexico is confronting a "brutal" enemy which has proven itself particularly adept at adapting to new circumstances and challenges. But he said that the country had made "valiant decisions," the most critical of which was the decision to use military forces as the cornerstone and key component of the Calderón National Security Strategy. Jacoby also told senators that "other things have to be done," but he didn't elaborate.

An interesting exchange between Sen. McCain and General Jacoby occurred when both men acknowledged a recent Justice Dept. report which claims that unidentified Mexican cartel operatives are now active in a thousand U.S. cities. McCain: "Why do we know the names of drug bosses in Mexico, but not here in the United States?" Jacoby: "I believe we do know them, to a certain extent; and they're working with street gangs here, which is a problem we're addressing."

When questioned by McCain about the expanding drug war in Central America, General Jacoby testified that police and security forces there are often outgunned by narcotics traffickers and those who work with them. The governments of Guatemala and Honduras have requested more U.S. military aid, similar to that which Mexico is receiving under the Mérida Initiative. They've also raised the issue of drug legalization, which went over like a lead balloon. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Vice President Joe Biden both dismissed the idea on separate visits to Mexico in the past two weeks.

Oct. 20 - U.S. says Mexico its winning its drug war

Why the Calderón strategy has been the right one:
Why the L.A. Times (and some others) just don't get it:
Why López Obrador drug war plan would be disastrous for Mexico:
More evidence Mexican drug war strategy is working, but violence shifts south:
Sen. John McCain has his doubts about one of Mexico's presidential candidates:
47,515 have died in Mexico's five year drug war:
Why call it "decriminalization" when clearly it's legalization?:
U.S. rebuffs Guatemalan call to consider drug legalization:
Drugs float ashore in Playa del Carmen:
Honduras "invaded by drug traffickers":
"Almost bankrupt" Guatemala calls for U.S. help:
Guatemalan army joins drug war:
U.S. Peace Corps flees Honduras:

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