Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mexican army shines again in Treviño Morales takedown

MGR's view

Guadalajara -
Not so many months ago (Nov. 21, 2011), one of the most prominent newspapers in the United States wrote this:

"A new report by Human Rights Watch indicates that drug cartels and organized crime aren't solely responsible for the bloodletting (in Mexico). The military, deployed to protect civilians, may have caused many of their deaths, according to the group's study. The report is just the latest reminder that Calderón's security strategy, including his decision to deploy more than 50,000 soldiers against the cartels, hasn't reduced violence, and may in fact be fueling it."

The following year (2012) was a presidential election one in Mexico, and the same paper, along with many others north of the border, predicted that whoever won the contest (Calderón was not eligible for reelection) would quickly jettison his military based strategy.

They were all wrong - on both claims - and that's why MGR wrote The L.A. Times just doesn't get it, and soon after, Calderón's drug war strategy was the right one.

The surprise arrest yesterday of the # 1 Zeta - officially known as Z-40, because his 39 predecessors have already cashed in their chips - provides yet further instruction on the issues. Top Los Zeta boss, Z-40, arrested in Nuevo Laredo.

To be sure, the Los Angeles Times piece in November 2011 drastically overstated the Human Rights Report published earlier that month. HRW investigators huffed and puffed, and came up with almost nothing. Of the approximately 45,000 people who had been killed in Mexico's then five year old drug war, HRW claimed it had evidence that 24 killings, 39 disappearances and 170 acts of torture were attributable to misconduct by Mexican military forces. Human Rights Watch condemns abuses.

Last February, HRW gave it another try. By then the drug war was 74 months old, and most agreed that perhaps 60,000 people had died (both the previous and current administrations insist, it should be noted, that the vast majority of those killed since Day 1 have been drug traffickers and criminals killed by other drug traffickers and criminals). In any case, in its February report HRW said it had evidence of 249 drug war "forced disappearances," 149 of which it attributed to ultra vires acts by military forces.

That was it. One hundred and forty-nine alleged kidnappings by soldiers in a six year drug war, in a nation of 118 million people. Hype is always present in Mexico's drug war, especially when Human Rights Watch comes to town.

War crimes committed by troops in the field, whether abroad or at home in the case of a domestic insurgency (the best way to describe Mexico's 60-80 drug cartels), are not rare events. "I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans," says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her and her family. They are wrong, they must be punished, but they are inevitable in any conflict. In this country they have been and they are being dealt with. Mexican Supreme Court strips military courts of jurisdiction in offenses committed against civilians.

Mexico's beloved ejército is not the problem in this war torn country. It's part of the solution (although not the solution per se, of course).

That's why in an extraordinary statement on Oct. 12, 2012, an official of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Mexico is confronting a true "emergency" in its war against cartels and organized crime, and urged that military forces remain on the street until circumstances permit a "return to quarters."

That's why Human Rights Watch's condemnation of the Mexican drug war and Mexican security forces reveals little understanding of the conflict.

And that's why the Mexican military is still at the vanguard of the drug war, the opinions of Human Rights Watch, the Los Angeles Times and so many others notwithstanding.

The new PRI administration in Mexico has been in office for just eight months. Enrique Peña Nieto has wisely stuck to Calderón's core militarization strategy - even expanding upon it - with only the most minor of modifications. Almost all of the American press got that question wrong, even though the answer was blatantly obvious.

In the last 90 days, Peña Nieto's army and marines have decommissioned two very big enchiladas, both without a shot fired. The first was in Agua Prieta on Apr. 30, the second was yesterday. Those who bet there won't be an encore will leave their money on the table.

Aug. 17 - Mexican army captures leader of Gulf Cartel
July 28 - Mexican armed forces arrest 4,760 drug traffickers in first six months of PRI administration
July 22 - El Z40, sus dos BlackBerry y los 280 muertos
July 17 - Obama: high praise for Peña Nieto in capture of top Zeta
July 11 - Mexican army kills 13 sicarios in Zacatecas shootout

Mexican security forces had been on Treviño's trail since December. His mug shot is in the inset.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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