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Cablegate: Scenesetter - Oas Hemispheric Security Ministerial

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R 011242Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3446
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 002929

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON MASS KCRM MX
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER - OAS HEMISPHERIC SECURITY MINISTERIAL

1. (SBU) Summary: The American Embassy in Mexico City
welcomes your upcoming visits. The October 6-8 OAS
Hemispheric Security Ministerial is taking place at a time in
Mexico when law enforcement and security issues are occupying
a prominent place in the country's national agenda as never
before. We expect GOM representatives will use the encounter
to highlight their government's initiatives to improve public
security in Mexico. Your interventions during the
Ministerial, and private conversations with senior Mexican
law enforcement officials, will serve to provide some
much-needed moral support to an ally at a critical juncture.

2. (SBU) Public concern over crime and violence, reflected by
increased tension among Mexico's principal political groups,
has greatly increased in recent weeks. In the wake of a
high-profile kidnap case in August, and the vicious grenade
attacks on a Michoacan crowd celebrating Mexico's
Independence Day, a perception is growing that Mexico's
already troubled security situation has deteriorated suddenly
and disturbingly. Seeking advantage in the run up to
elections next year, Mexico's opposition political parties
are beginning to distance themselves from the President,
claiming his crime fighting strategy has been ineffectual to
date.

3. (U) Ironically, the increased pressure on President
Calderon comes at a time when many of the pieces of his
strategy are beginning to fall into place. Since taking
office, the president has launched anti-drug operations in
more than ten states, raised pay for the military, and
replaced numerous high-ranking federal police officers.

4. (U) In the past year, these initiatives have contributed
to genuine success. Combined military and law enforcement
operations have resulted in the takedown of nearly ten senior
members of Mexico's notorious cartels, including Alfredo
Beltran of the Arturo Beltran-Leyva Organization (formerly
part of the Sinaloa group). In all, more than 17,000 persons
involved in drug related crimes have been arrested. In the
calendar year to date, approximately 11 metric tons of
cocaine have been seized, as well as approximately 750,000
kilos of marijuana and 160 kilos of methamphetamine. Last
year was a boom year for seizures as well -- over 48 metric
tons, including a world record 23.5 metric ton bust in
October 2007.

5. (U) President Calderon also initiated sweeping structural
and operational reforms among police elements, successfully
advanced legislation unifying federal police forces and in
June, signed legislation to reform the criminal justice
system. Such wide-reaching actions and enhancements will
take time to fully implement, but will considerably
strengthen GOM security capabilities across-the-board.

6. (SBU) In the meantime, Mexico's president needs our
strong support. As you know, Merida Initiative funding was
passed by our Congress and signed into law by the President
in June. We are finalizing a letter of agreement with the
Mexican government on Merida programs. GOM representatives
have signaled their desire for speedy deployment of Merida
programs and equipment.

7. (SBU) Publicly, you can stress our commitment to moving
forward quickly. Privately, you can assure your law
enforcement contacts here that we are already priming the
many USG agencies involved in advancing Merida and will begin
implementing as soon as we have congressional approval and
agreement with the GOM. Please explain that procurement and
disbursement of equipment is a complex, time-consuming
process. Urge them to work together collegially and defuse
public speculation regarding divisions in the Mexican
National Security Cabinet.

8. (Unclassified Entire Section) Public Support

The OAS Security Ministerial is an opportunity to provide
President Calderon the strong public support he needs during
this period. In your interventions, you can underscore our
support for President Calderon's counter crime strategy by:

--Noting the successes President Calderon has achieved to
date.

MEXICO 00002929 002 OF 002

--Supporting his efforts to reform Mexico's security forces
and criminal justice system.

--Acknowledging our shared responsibility to combat the
illegal narcotics trade, stressing our commitment, and
ongoing efforts, to stem the flow of illegal arms into
Mexico, combat money laundering and reduce demand for
narcotics in the United States.

--Noting the contribution the Merida Initiative will make to
the considerable resources Mexico is already putting into its
war on organized crime, and the regional benefits of
cross-border cooperation against cross-border criminal
networks.

9. (U) Please let me know if there is anything I and my staff
can do to advance the goals of your visits here. We look
forward to your arrival.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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