Cablegate: Scenesetter for Drl Assistant Secretary David

DE RUEHME #2470/01 2252129
R 122129Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

B. MEXICO 2337

1. (SBU) Summary: Welcome to Mexico City. Mexico remains key
to USG success in combating the trafficking of drugs,
persons, arms and precursors, terrorism, and other
transnational threats. Although President Calderon has made
great strides in taking on Mexico's drug cartels and
improving public security, these advances have come at a high
human price for both civilians and officials at the federal,
state, and municipal levels. Facing multiple law enforcement
challenges while attempting to sharpen the capabilities of
the weak policing tool in its possession, the GOM's robust
plan to combat organized crime has drawn criticism from some
civil society groups concerned that safeguards to protect
human rights in Mexico are being overshadowed by national
security concerns. On the other hand, sectors almost
universally applaud judicial reforms which, once implemented,
should greatly enhance rule of law. End Summary

Political Landscape

2. (SBU) The president faces a hardening political
environment here, in the advance of legislative and key
gubernatorial elections next year. The window of opportunity
to effectively cooperate with a divided congress on major
reform initiatives, such as the currently pending energy
reform, is rapidly closing. While security issues are
paramount, prosperity is also a key priority in the minds of
most Mexicans. Calderon has successfully passed some
important economic reforms but more are needed to
significantly raise growth rates, especially in light of
current global trends.

Justice Reform

3. (SBU) The human price Mexico is paying for the war on
organized crime remains high, with almost 2000 drug related
killings so far in 2008, including 194 police and military
officials. A new disturbing trend in recent months has been
the slaying of several senior police officials. In June,
President Calderon signed into law major judicial reform
legislation to facilitate transition to an oral trial system,
give law enforcement officials broader search and seizure
authority, allow consensual monitoring of telephone calls,
and give police more responsibility for conducting
investigations. Effective implementation of the legislation
will make the Mexican system work more transparently,
expeditiously, and fairly. A share of Merida Initiative
support is tagged to assist Mexico with putting this improved
system into place.

4. (SBU) The procedural codes for consistent implementation
of the police reforms at the federal, state and municipal
levels are currently being discussed in the Mexican Congress.
A law designed to protect the human rights of Mexican law
enforcement officials is also being discussed in the
legislative body. Essentially, this law would standardize
salaries, benefits, training and educational opportunities,
and promotion opportunities for all law enforcement
officials. This past April, the Public Security Secretariat
(SSP) initiated the program Plataforma Mexico (Mexican
Platform), which provides distance learning training to
federal police officials throughout the country. Through
technical coordination with Mexico's National Autonomous
University, 10,000 officials have been trained nationally.
Although the program has not been officially instituted at
the state and municipal levels, SSP has extended distance
learning courses to 115 priority municipalities where an
estimated 70 percent of the Mexican population resides and
where 80 percent of all crimes reportedly occur.

Human Rights

5. (SBU) By historic standards in the region, the Mexican
military's track record on human rights is good. Since the
year's inception, there have been seven reported shootings of
civilians by soldiers at military checkpoints. Human rights
NGOs argue these shootings constitute a pattern of gross
violations of human rights, more specifically the "right to
life". While not all checkpoint shootings appear to
constitute a "gross violation of human rights" by
international standards, these incidents clearly involve

MEXICO 00002470 002 OF 003

serious breaches of military discipline and professionalism.
The Mexican Military (SEDENA) has taken steps in recent
months to address the issue of accountability for soldiers
accused of committing human rights violations through the
creation of the Directorate General for Human Rights, but it
remains reluctant to engage civil society. The National
Human Rights Commission accepts civilian complaints against
all public officials and ministries, including SEDENA. Once
an allegation of human rights abuse has been investigated, a
non-binding recommendation is issued.

Key Issues

6. (SBU) Leahy Vetting: Despite the GOM's sensitivity to the
vetting issue, Embassy officials have consulted with the SRE
regarding the procedures and requirements for Merida-related
vetting. The Embassy maintains regular contact with the
National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) as well as with the
human rights community and continues to seek their input to
enhance and expand the local database used by the Embassy to
check potential recipients of US assistance. The Embassy
continues to make use of close contacts with the Office of
the Attorney General and the Ministries of Public Security,
Government, Defense and the Navy to accumulate data and
review information related to potential recipients of USG

7. (SBU) To manage the vetting process at Embassy Mexico
City, Post has recently hired a full-time vetting
coordinator. Additionally, GOM representatives have informed
us that they intend to establish an internal, interagency
process to more closely review the credentials of potential
recipients of US assistance under the Merida Initiative.
While this effort by the Government of Mexico
is not intended to replace USG vetting, it can effectively
complement USG efforts.

7. (SBU) UNHCHR: May 23 marked Amerigo Inglaterra's last day
as UN High Commissioner in Mexico City. Although the motive
for his departure has not been confirmed, allegedly
Calderon's administration asked Louise Arbor, the UN High
Commission for Human Rights, to remove Inglaterra after he
made a number of controversial statements criticizing the
Mexican Military's role in the fight against organized crime
and for his public statements in support of a recent Human
Rights Watch report criticizing the CNDH for not pressuring
the Mexican government to address human rights concerns. The
Merida Initiative designates a USD 1 million earmark for
UNHCHR to conduct human rights training for Mexican Military
officials serving in traditional military roles. The issue
stirred some controversy in Mexico when it was initially
mentioned through national press sources.

8. (SBU) Brad Will Case: Progress on the Brad Will case
remains slow despite vigorous efforts by the Will family and
Embassy engagement. Embassy officials, including Ambassador
Garza, have continued to express the concerns and the
interest of the US government and the Will family to the
Mexican federal and Oaxaca state authorities. To date, no
charges have been filed.

9. (SBU) Civil Society: Provided that human rights concerns
are adequately addressed, human rights defenders are willing
to support the Merida Initiative. Attitudes regarding the
military's engagement in the GOM's anti-narcotics operations
range from ambivalence to complete opposition. In recent
months, several NGOs have contrasted what they characterized
as President Calderon's hands-off approach to civil society
concerns with that of the former president. The Fox
administration, they argue, established clear channels for
dialogue with civil society groups and permitted greater
access to law enforcement elements, particularly the PGR
whereas the Calderon administration has eliminated such

10. (SBU) Despite the criticisms of some human rights NGOs,
Calderon has, in fact, shown interest in civil society's
concerns and has made substantive efforts to incorporate its
opinions into the GOM's overall human rights agenda. Putting
his personal stamp on a Fox administration initiative to
improve police-civilian interface, on June 25, President
Calderon inaugurated a new Board of Directors for the Citizen
Participation Council (CPC) of the Attorney General's Office
(PGR) and announced the reactivation of toll free emergency
phone numbers, which will allow citizens to send in anonymous
tips. President Calderon had earlier called on citizens to
provide crime information to police using a complaint system

MEXICO 00002470 003 OF 003

that has been in place for nearly six years. Although some
remain skeptical of the effort, the president's underscoring
of its importance could have a salutory effect.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at and the North American
Partnership Blog at /

© Scoop Media

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