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Cablegate: Concerns About Security, Human Rights Abuses

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #6219/01 3531223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191223Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9957
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
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RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 006219

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KCRM SNAR ECON PINR MX
SUBJECT: CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
COLLIDE IN GUERRERO


1. Summary: Concerns about human rights abuses and threats
to security posed by drug trafficking collide in Mexico's
southern state of Guerrero where Poloff met with a wide range
of Mexican congressional representatives, government
officials, human rights activists, NGOs and other members of
civil society during a recent visit. State Congressional
members were focused on immigration reform in the U.S. but
short on answers when it came to addressing human rights
concerns and economic challenges in their own state.
Meanwhile NGOs and other members of civil society focused at
length on human rights abuses -- often victimizing Guerrero's
substantial indigenous community -- perpetrated by the
security forces in the name of the war on drugs. Already one
of Mexico's poorest states, Guerrero faces an uphill battle
in overcoming security challenges and providing its
population with the kind of economic opportunity needed to
check the flow of migrants to major cities in more prosperous
states as well as the U.S.

-----------------------------------------
GUERRERO'S LANDSCAPE, ECONOMY, AND PEOPLE
-----------------------------------------

2. The dire poverty that characterizes much of the
mountainous state of Guerrero is akin to the variety observed
in much of the third world that has not kept apace with the
transformations produced by globalization. Economic
development centers around Acapulco as a tourist hub and
Zihuatanejo in the western part of the state. Development in
much of the rest of the state is dominated by agriculture or
artisan handicrafts. Many schools do not have textbooks in
indigenous languages, lack adequate teachers, and are not
furnished.

3. Guerrero serves as the home for many members of Mexico's
diverse indigenous community accounting for 17 percent of the
state's population. Each of the group's members in Guerrero
in turn account for a significant proportion of that group's
population in Mexico countrywide.

--Nahualts (35.2%)
--Mixtecos (28.7%)
--Tlapanecos (24.0%)
--Amuzgos (9.7%)

Guerrero's indigenous groups live mainly in the mountainous
region of the state and generally represent the state's most
marginalized members. Over the last 20 years, migration has
emerged as a primary survival option for much of the
indigenous population. Noe Ramos Cabrera, President for the
Commission on Indigenous Affairs told poloff that more than
37,000 day laborers leave Guerrero annually in search of work
and that 80 percent of all indigenous homes have at least one
family working as a migrant agricultural worker in the
Mexican states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Morelos, Chihuahua, and
Baja California or in the U.S. With regard to health
challenges, Ramos lamented the fact that alcoholism remains
the leading cause of death for the indigenous population in
Guerrero.

-------------------
GUERRERO'S DRUG WAR
-------------------

4. Guerrero has become one of the major staging grounds for
Mexico's drug wars given the increasing number of weapons
entering the state and the growth in the production of
poppies used in heroin production. Human rights organizations
say that the weapons coming into the state end up in the
hands of the poor. Meanwhile Poppy production in Guerrero
has tripled making it Mexico's top producer according to
indigenous NGOS and state government officials in Guerrero.
Many uneducated farmers have resorted to poppy production in
order to survive, because regular food production sales are
not sufficient to support their families and much of the land
in Guerrero's more mountainous regions do support the
cultivation of high-value crops. The Sinaloa cartel is the
most dominant cartel in the state. However, clashes of the
Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have increased over the years
producing violence in Acapulco and Zihuatenejo. The increase
in drug violence and drug-related killings prompted President
Calderon to send more troops to the region.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND CIVIL SOCIETY DISAGREE ON SECURITY
--------------------------------------------- --------------

5. Guerrero has been the locus of conflict between armed
leftist groups and the military for decades and mistreatment
of indigenous communities has too often been an unfortunate

MEXICO 00006219 002 OF 002


by product of this clash. Not surprisingly, many members of
the indigenous community are apprehensive about the higher
profile the military has assumed in combating drug
trafficking in the state. The Tlachinollan Mountain Center
for Human Rights and a network of indigenous human rights
organizations in Ayutla expressed concern about illegal
searches conducted within indigenous communities and fear an
expanded presence of the military would only contribute to
more abuses.

6. As an example of the ongoing problem, several of the
indigenous groups with whom poloff met in Ayutla cited the
cases of two indigenous women, Valentina Rosendo Cantu and
Ines Fernandez Ortega, who were allegedly raped by Mexican
soldiers in 2002. When Rosendo and Fernandez sought to file
their complaint with Mexican authorities, they were told by
military officials the Mexican military had jurisdiction over
the case but that they shouldn't bother to take the matter to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because Mexican
soldiers have to be convicted of their crimes in a military
court. In October 2007, they presented their case to the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington D.C.
Since then, the women and their families told poloff they
have received many threats. Indigenous groups requested the
USG's help in protecting their communities from abuse at the
hands of the military.

7. State public security officials, however, tend to
discount such concerns and cite efforts to professionalize
their own security forces. Humberto Quintil Calvo Memije, a
senior official from the State's Public Security Office, said
he favored the military's involvement, maintaining it was
making a significant contribution to the state's counter drug
efforts. In the face of complaints about corruption within
the security forces, Calvo remarked that his office had
developed mechanisms to better regulate the police and hire
commanders, including through the administration of periodic
toxicology exams. Conceding the fact that police corruption
still remains a major problem in Guerrero, Calvo blamed poor
pay for police as the major cause for corruption.

8. Comment: Guerrero is a microcosm of the "other Mexico"
that faces entrenched poverty and the kinds of security
problems and human rights concerns that attend regions
afflicted with significant drug trafficking activity. The
Calderon administration has relied on the military to
confront the security challenges that exist in Guerrero but
that involvement has been met with suspicion on the part of
many in the rural communities. Security is a prerequisite
for a brighter future for Guerrero but only if it is
accompanied by significant public and private sector
investment that meets the local population's basic human
needs and creates genuine economic opportunity. End Comment.


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 /
BASSETT

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