Cablegate: Mexico: Visit of a/S Valenzuela (Dec 06-08)

DE RUEHME #3504/01 3481602
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: During his two day visit to Mexico (Dec
6-8), A/S Arturo Valenzuela met with senior Mexican officials
including key counterparts from the Secretariat of Foreign
Affairs, Governance, Federal Police and several key economic
ministries. A visit to several Federal Police installations,
a meeting with SSP Director Genaro Garcia Luna provided
insights into how our Merida assistance is helping Mexico
address problems with organized crime and drug trafficking
and revealed insights into some of the political pressures
preoccupying the Calderon administration. The session at the
Foreign Ministry opened up a discussion on how Mexico could
provide regional leadership on Honduras and other issues, and
an out of the box exchange on ways to use the 2010 Mexican
bicentennial celebration to move forward on border
modernization. A round table with key policy makers on trade
and competitiveness at the Los Pinos Presidential compound
began with a review of some perennial trade disputes but
quickly evolved into a constructive exchange on setting a
bilateral agenda to strengthen U.S. and Mexican
competitiveness in a global economy. Valenzuela also met
Calderon chief-of-staff Patricia Flores and Interior Minister
Fernando Gomez Mont, providing a chance to drive home the
visit's themes with two critical political players.

2. (SBU) There were several outreach events. A breakfast
with local U.S. and Mexican business leaders explored ideas
for the next stage of U.S. Mexican economic integration,
focusing on information technology, education and energy. A
round table with civic participation groups and new media
bloggers, focused on efforts to build a national consensus
against violence. A press event provided an exchange with
leading journalists. A Wilson Center/Mexican institute dinner
brought together a host of parliamentary political players
and think tankers for a give and take on bilateral relations
and political change in Mexico. Throughout the visit, there
were signs of a political class, cognizant of the need for
internal change in order to address modern threats and
exploit new opportunities but uncertain how to effect it, and
reminders of the need to ensure that all major political
forces be included in our ongoing efforts to deepen our
relationship and expand the avenues of cooperation with our
neighbors to the south. End Summary

--------------------------------------------- -----
Security Discussions with the Federal Police (SSP)
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. (SBU) A tour of SSP installations at the Federal Police
Headquarters and training facilities at Iztapalapa provided a
good snapshot of how our Merida assistance is deepening
Mexico's law enforcement capabilities. At Iztapalapa,
Valenzuela saw various simulated exercises on hostage rescue,
operations aimed at securing planes and large office
buildings, and the use of riot control units and various
motorized law enforcement vehicles, as well as air support
installations to service helicopters and other police
aircraft. At headquarters, a review of the Plataforma Mexico
intelligence system provided a good glimpse into the state of
the art technology incorporated in the comprehensive police
data base system that we are helping the Mexican government
develop. Valenzuela capped off the tour with a meeting with
SSP Secretary Garcia Luna.

4. (SBU) Garcia Luna reviewed his efforts in finalizing a
Mexican government initiative to replace military units in
Ciudad Juarez with potentially over 2,000 federal police (ref
A). The idea was to move the military to the outskirts
around the city, focusing them on securing transit routes and
providing backup support for urban operations with Federal
Police units taking over law enforcement responsibilities in
the city. This would help ensure that military and police
actions were more closely tied to legal prosecution and would
relieve the operational burden currently on the army. Garcia
Luna said a key operational priority was to close down, for
six months, installations in the ever growing red light
district, including strip joints, brothels, and other
establishments involved in the sex trade. These businesses
and others that fostered drinking and drugs were encouraging

MEXICO 00003504 002.2 OF 005

a tourist trade that was attracting criminal elements and
providing new opportunities for organized drug cartels that
had unleashed an explosion of violence on the city.

5. (SBU) Garcia Luna underscored the challenge of replacing
the high number of municipal and state police with better
trained, vetted federal units. For example there were 400
Federal Police assigned to Baja, versus 3,500 local police in
Tijuana and 2,800 men in Mexicali. Many local governments
used the municipal police for civic action as opposed to hard
police work. New criminal patterns were also making the job
harder with organized groups taking over robbery and other
activities that, while much more prevalent than drug
killings, had traditionally been the work of individual
criminals that were easier to combat. Garcia Luna favors
collapsing state and municipal police into one force, with
federal police filling the gap during the transition.

6. (SBU) Valenzuela noted the difficulty of bringing
together federal and local law enforcement efforts. His work
with Mexico over the years had given him a good understanding
of the country and the challenges involved in dealing with
local authorities. With regard to raising the competence of
local police, the problems were not only political. Both the
Ambassador and the Assistant Secretary noted the need to
proceed carefully in closing down businesses in Ciudad Juarez
that could complicate a difficult economic environment and
spur additional violence and criminality.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Foreign Ministry: Mexican Leadership on Honduras ...
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (SBU) A breakfast with SRE Undersecretaries Julian
Ventura (North America) and Salvador Beltran del Rio (Latin
America) provided an opportunity to review regional issues,
e.g., Honduras, and review ways to strengthen our bilateral
cooperation. A/S Valenzuela noted the need to find a way past
the Zelaya/Micheletti impasse in Honduras, restore peace and
stability and open the way to rebuilding Honduras' shattered
economy. The trick was not allowing Brazil and others to
monopolize the mantle of regional leadership. One alternative
is for Mexico and the United States to support a Central
American-Caribbean Initiative advanced by Presidents
Fernandez and Arias. This could help advance a unity
government and truth commission, and could usefully balance
Brazil's mis-steps with Zelaya. Ambassador Pascual emphasized
that the US and Mexico have similar stances on Honduras and
have the most to gain from working cooperatively as equals:
what was needed were concrete, practical ways that we could
work together more effectively. Beltran agreed, noting the
importance of preventing Venezuela and other countries from
dominating the debate without offering any viable solutions
(Note: During the breakfast Beltran commented on regular
reports coming in on his blackberry from Foreign Secretary
Espinosa, in Uruguay for the Mercosur meeting. End Note).
Valenzuela encouraged Beltran to support ongoing efforts to
get Zelaya and Micheletti out of the headlines so that
negotiations on a unity government could move ahead.

--------------------------------------------- --
Binational Commission, Bridges and Bicentennial
--------------------------------------------- --

8. (SBU) Ventura raised the challenge of coordinating the
huge number of agencies engaged on both sides of the border.
The Bi-National Commission had lived out its time, but some
mechanism was needed to get agencies to share their plans and
improve their coordination and planning. Ventura noted that
significant work continued on the Mexican side to prepare the
opening of three new bridge crossings along the Mexican-U.S.
border. The Mexican government saw the events as a way to
dispel the perception that all of its efforts along the
border were about fighting drug cartels. Ventura noted
Mexican interest in having Presidents Obama and Calderon
inaugurate one of the bridges together in early 2010.
Valenzuela suggested adding a cultural/public affairs
element, e.g. a musical event with Juanes and Mexican

MEXICO 00003504 003.3 OF 005

entertainers that would emphasize positive themes and
invigorate grass roots participation in rejecting violence
and criminality. We would also consider initiatives, said
Valenzuela, to contribute to the upcoming Mexican
bicentennial, in a way that could celebrate our progress in
building a more honest, transparent and productive bilateral

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Trade and Competition Talk at the Presidential Compound
--------------------------------------------- ----------

9. (SBU) At the President,s residence, Presidential Advisor
Rafael Fernandez de Castro laid out what he characterized as
our negative and positive economic agendas. and the
imperative to put our economic agenda on a constructive
plane. The negative agenda, as described by SRE Under
Secretary for Trade Beatriz Leycegui, includes trade disputes
such as trucking, tuna, Country Of Origin (COOL) legislation,
Buy America legislation and shrimp. A/S replied that it was
important to address each country's political concerns to
make real progress. Ambassador Pascual urged U/S Beatriz
Leycegui to meet with U/S of State Robert Hormats on these
issues. On the more positive agenda, the GOM officials at
Los Pinos raised border infrastructure, regulatory
cooperation and efforts to promote medical tourism from the
United States. Ambassador Pascual suggested the GOM focus on
three key sectors that would help Mexico become a more
competitive partner: investing in technology and telcoms,
renewable energy and looking for joint areas to improve
Mexico,s infrastructure. He noted that efforts on medical
tourism needed to be carefully coordinated with our ongoing
health reform efforts and asked for time to follow up in
Washington before Mexico moved ahead on a specific
initiative. He closed by saying he hoped to work with the GOM
to develop a strategy for a competitiveness agenda that could
run parallel to our shared security agenda. (Septel will
provide more details on trade and business discussions.)

And also with Local Business Leaders

10. (SBU) A/S Valenzuela also participated in a briefing by
a group of local business leaders, representing Microsoft de
Mexico, Cisco, General Motors de Mexico, Wal-Mart Mexico,
Kimberly-Clark Mexico, Kansas City Southern Railways, Sempra
Energy and Goldman Sachs. Discussion focused on obstacles to
further growth, including an overreliance on oil for
government revenues, an education system in which 54 percent
of students leave school at age 15, and low computer and
internet use, particularly in small companies. Most of the
U.S. companies present had made substantial investments in
Mexico and, with the exception of General Motors, were
profitable, despite the challenges. Nevertheless, they
characterized Mexico as &stagnant8 and noted the need for
the government to find a way to reduce dependence on oil and
make the economy more dynamic. Some suggested modeling the
state-owned oil company Pemex after Petrobras, the Brazilian
counterpart. WalMart and General Motors said they were
focused on developing world class suppliers in Mexico, both
for domestic sales and export. Information Technology leaders
observed Mexico's lack of competitiveness compared to the
BRIC countries, and low internet penetration rates (25
percent) and pointed to a recent study, commissioned by two
U.S. tech companies, that showed a 10 percent increase in
broadband penetration could increase the country's GDP by 2.8
percent over five years. Next steps on competitiveness could
also include a joint U.S. Mexican approach on China, and
closer bilateral cooperation in APEC.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
Civic Groups and Bloggers on Zero Tolerance for Violence
--------------------------------------------- ------------

11. (SBU) A/S Valenzuela also led a roundtable discussion
with Mexican NGOs on using new media to engage citizens in

MEXICO 00003504 004 OF 005

the campaign against violence in Mexico. The discussion was
video-streamed live on the internet from the Benjamin
Franklin Library, with questions submitted by web-chat from
on-line audience members. More than 9,000 contacts of the
library, including Mexican researchers, university
professors, journalists, and students, were notified of the
webcast by Facebook and email. Roundtable participants
included AMB Pascual, representatives of leading Mexican NGOs
Iluminemos Mexico, SOS Mexico, Mexicans United Against Crime
(MUCD), the National Association of Councils for Civic
Participation, and the CEO of Mobile Accord James Eberhard.

12. (SBU) Panelists agreed that reaching out to target
audiences, particularly youth, through new media was a key
component of local NGO strategies to increase citizen
participation. Texting, Facebook, and other digital services
are powerful tools that pose new opportunities and challenges
for Mexican NGOs seeking to amplify their messages on
anti-violence. NGO leaders concurred that greater
cooperation and collaboration among NGOs, political leaders,
and other members of civil society are essential to the
success of anti-violence efforts in Mexico. Ambassador
Pascual underlined the critical role that citizen engagement
through new media and traditional forms plays in the broader
context of the Merida Initiative and the promotion of a more
prosperous and secure Mexico. During the panel discussion,
photos of the event were posted on the Library's Facebook
page on a continual basis. The event received positive press
coverage in leading Mexican newspapers "El Universal" and

--------------------------------------------- ------------
Political/Intellectual Leaders on the Change Mexico Needs
--------------------------------------------- ------------

13. (SBU) A/S Valenzuela and AMB Pascual participated in a
seminar and dinner hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center Mexico
Institute Advisory Board bringing together political,
academic, and civil society leaders. A/S Valenzuela
emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral
relationship and noted the series of challenges shared by
both countries that needed to be addressed through joint
action, including organized crime and managing economic
integration. Questions and commentary raised by the audience
questioned whether counternarcotics merited the focus it was
receiving in the bilateral relationship. Ambassador Pascual
noted the urgent need to address what was a hemispheric
problem that left unchecked would continue to undermine
economic growth, exploit marginalized communities and
frustrate efforts to bring our two countries closer. A/S
Valenzuela also joined a post-dinner conversation with major
parliamentary and media leaders (mechanical problems with the
plane delayed his arrival) that engendered a lively
discussion on the need for political change and the
difficulty of finding a way to effect it among political
parties focused on safeguarding their own political fortunes.
At a capstone lunch before departing for the airport,
Secretary of Governance Gomez Mont delved into the Mexican
government's ideas on political reform, particularly on
re-election of deputies to the parliament and reform of the
voting system. Both are necessary parts of a strategy to
create citizen accountability.


14. (SBU) The two-day visit of A/S Valenzuela engendered
discussions on the full scale of the bilateral agenda. A rich
exchange -- on security cooperation and joint efforts to
expand and deepen our Merida cooperation; on trade and
competition ideas that could help spur economic recovery and
future investment; on Mexican leadership to coordinate
regional diplomatic initiatives with our efforts; and even
disquiet from the political and intellectual class on the
need for structural change that will help prepare Mexico for
future challenges -- reflected a strong and growing

MEXICO 00003504 005 OF 005

partnership. The tone throughout reflected an honesty and
openness of engagement that was surprising for its lack of
nationalist edge. Capacity still lags, and not all bad habits
have been broken. But the platform for progress is genuine,
and increasingly broader in scope.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at and the North American
Partnership Blog at /

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