Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Calderón: local governments in Michoacán are corrupt, still work with organized crime

Guadalajara -
Mexico's now 93 month old drug war officially began in early December 2006, when then PAN president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa sent federal security forces marching into his home state of Michoacán, to confront violent drug cartels which had threatened to virtually take over a region long famous for its lemon, lime and avocado production.

In May 2013, six months after he took office, current PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto delivered an encore as Michoacán security continued to deteriorate. After admitting on July 25 of last year that "parts of the state have passed into the hands of organized crime," Peña Nieto flooded the state with federal troops once again in January 2014. Michoacán security accord more of the same old song.

No one, it seems, can rein in organized crime in the hot, dry Pacific coast state, which remains one of Mexico's most violent. Violent Michoacán sets eight year record in homicides.

In an Associated Press interview redacted and published by Mexico City's respected El Universal Monday evening, Calderón accused local governments across the state not only of failing to support federal security efforts, but of actively collaborating with organized crime.

Michoacán, whose capital is Morelia, has 113 municipios (counties) and hundreds of incorporated towns. The governing bodies of such local entities are known as ayuntamientos. Calderón said they are rife with deeply rooted political corruption, with many elected officials yet on narco payrolls.

Cotrasting Michoacán to border communities like Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, both of which saw significant reductions in violence during his presidency (2006-2012), Calderón said local authorities there "did their part."

"Where (our) strategy couldn't be carried to completion was where local governments not only failed to cooperate, but actually obstructed our efforts since they were working with organized crime. The best proof of that is in Michoacán," Calderón told the AP during an interview conducted in New York.

"If someone who was once governor of the state is captured on video talking with one of the bloodiest criminals in Mexico, tell me, what are the chances that the state is going to move ahead?" Calderón's reference was to a former secretary general and interim governor of Michoacán, Jesús Reyna, who was long accused of being on the payroll of the state's main drug cartel, the vicious Los Caballeros Templarios. Reyna was arrested by federal investigators in April.

Calderón noted that in 2009, his government detained 12 Michoacán mayors and 23 state officials on charges of corruption and organized crime association. All 35 were late acquitted by local judges, "some of whom are themselves now accused of corruption," according to the former National Action Party president.

Calderón said that when he was sworn in on Dec. 1, 2012, "I soon discovered that across the nation organized crime was taking over villages, towns, cities and even states." Political power is ultimate goal of Mexican drug cartels, says U.S. security expert.

"Michoacán, like many other entities, was at the point of being overrun by criminals. My immediate challenge was to confront them, expel them from state institutions, eliminate those officials who were their accomplices and seek out the cooperation of local authorities," he added.

In a May 2012 interview before he left office, Calderón said his government was "fighting so Mexicans will be more secure. Future generations will look back and remember this administration began the battle to achieve true security." Struggle against drug cartels and organized crime will be his legacy.

The best estimate of so-called drug war deaths during Calderón's tenure is about 65,000. Although the Peña Nieto administration claims that organized crime violence has greatly diminished since it took office, some Mexican press sources argue that just the opposite is true, and have accused the Institutional Revolutionary Party government of playing fast and loose with statistics. Homicides under Enrique Peña Nieto far exceed those of his predecessor.

Both the current administration and its predecessor contend that the overwhelming majority of drug war victims have been organized crime members killed by rivals, or by government security forces during interdiction operations.

Apr. 1 - Templarios bosses "have a way of coming back to life"

Aug. 15 - Michoacán mayor, a woman, in federal custody for murder, extortion and organized crime
July 26 - Regional violence remains unabated in Michoacán, and spares no political party
May 10 - The Rural Defense Force, to the rescue in Michoacán
May 6 - Michoacán's agony continues: new cartel may have emerged to replace Templarios
Mar. 22 - "There is no respect for life in Michoacán, nor a government"
Mar. 5 - Mexican Human Rights Comm'n. says there's no local law in Michoacán
Feb. 17 - Michoacán belongs to organized crime: 55% of Mexicans
Feb. 14 - Michoacán, a deadly no man's land (Harry Devert story)

This early 2014 public opinion poll told a powerful story: most Mexicans believed the government had lost control of the state, despite years of effort by successive presidential administrations.

© MGR 2014. 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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