Bolivia Calm, Northern Mexico Under Siege
Bolivia Calm, Northern Mexico Under Siege
June 16, 2005
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After the dramatic events in Bolivia last week, where after weeks of mobilizations and general strikes the people told their ineffectual president Carlos Mesa that they'd had enough of his meager responses to their clear demands, and simultaneously prevented his hugely unpopular successor, Hormando Vaca Diez, from taking power, things have calmed down a bit. But, as our correspondent Jean Friedsky in La Paz reports, the struggle is far from over:
"La Paz is calm, market stalls are again overflowing with fresh fruit and recently slaughtered meat and tregua (truce) is the word of the week. But the quiet on the streets is a symptom of the noise that now fills the meeting halls, organizational offices and livings rooms. With a break in the marches, thousands sit analyzing this most recent 'battle' and deliberating the future. So, whether its apparent on CNN or not, the Gas War here still continues - it's just gone inside."
Also, Santa Cruz, Bolivia native Irene Roca Ortiz analyses a recent Spanish-only interview with former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. The disgraced "Goni," she writes, blames the country's and his woes on narco-trafficking, perhaps remembering but neglecting to mention "that his party's fortunes (and those of many others) owe much to drug trafficking" and "laundered narco-dollars":
Meanwhile, the situation in Northern Mexico, especially in the border city of Nuevo Laredo where federal police and military have essentially imposed martial law in response to an explosion of gang violence and organized crime, is putting prohibition's failures to either provide security or prevent drugs from entering the United States into the spotlight.
Ricardo Sala, a leading advocate of drug policy reform in Mexico, writes of the possible outcomes of "Operativo México Seguro":
"Let's keep an eye on the results the Mexican government delivers. Prohibition does not allow us to know even an approximation of the total amount of illegal drug circulating in our country, but (unless the drug war develops into a state of siege) clearly any amount seized will only be a small fraction of the total.
"A more important question from a human rights perspective is this: How many of the detained persons will be and are the real (or imagined) professional narcos? How many persons walking out of nightclubs or just strolling on the streets will be stopped by the police, searched and molested and affected in their dignity, before a criminal which truly threatens national security gets put behind bars? How many simple consumers of drugs and how many poor people abused by police will be jailed with Operativo México Seguro?"
Another unavoidable, ugly result of this increased militarization is one the Mexican government is well aware of: a stepped-up arms race between and among narcos as they face more and better-armed enemies. And where do those gangsters get their guns? The same place everyone else does – from the United States arms industry.
The Mexican government's pleas for U.S. cooperation on stopping the flow of arms to its most violent criminal organizations have so far been mostly ignored. Read more here:
Finally, Bill Conroy writes that all of this effort on the part of the Mexican federal police and military will simply change the balance of power in a drug economy where demand is constant and one group is always poised to take the place of another fallen one:
"It is likely that most of the Mexican cops who are on the narco-take are playing on the side of Cardenas and the Zetas -- not such a stretch to accept because, after all, Guzman is the new kid on the block in Nuevo Laredo.
"So, by clamping down on narco-corruption in the Mexican police force, doesn't Fox, by extension, increase the power of Guzman and his forces?
"After all, somebody has been shooting Mexican cops in Nuevo Laredo in recent months, reportedly because those cops, just like in the days of Prohibition in the United States, were on the payroll of the narco-traffickers (bootleggers). If the power of the local cops in the narco-trade is diminished, someone will step into that vacuum, right? Those are the rules of narco-capitalism under Prohibition."
From somewhere in a country called América,
The Narco News Bulletin