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Cablegate: Garcia Luna Testifies Before Congress

VZCZCXRO8544
RR RUEHCD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS
DE RUEHME #0081/01 0262016
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 262016Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0222
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 000081

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/26
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR MX
SUBJECT: GARCIA LUNA TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS
REF: 10 MEXICO 53

CLASSIFIED BY: Gustavo Delgado, Political Minister Counselor; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary. Public Security Secretary Garcia Luna appeared
before Congress on January 21 to discuss Mexico's security
situation and the country's struggle with escalating rates of
narco-related violence. Garcia Luna reiterated his call for police
reorganization, sought to deflect some of the blame for security
woes from the federal government, and tried to put a positive spin
on crime statistics. Despite some criticism from the opposition,
Garcia Luna's hearing was far less tense than his last appearance
in September. Nevertheless, the security debate will assume a more
heated tone come the next legislative session and as the state
electoral contests draw closer. End Summary.

Summoned to Speak

--------------------------

2. (SBU) Public Security Secretary (SSP) Genaro Garcia Luna
testified before the Permanent Commission on Government,
Constitutional Points, and Justice on January 21 after being
summoned by the Permanent Committee earlier this month to explain
Mexico's escalating rates of violence. The Committee - which holds
session while Congress is adjourned until February 1 - requested
Garcia Luna speak to the current state of the country's security
situation. It also asked that the Secretary of the Navy, Mariano
Francisco Saynez, appear to explain the Navy's actions during the
December 16 operation against cartel capo Arturo Beltran Leyva.

3. (SBU) Garcia Luna's testimony came on the heels of President
Calderon's announcement that the SSP's Federal Police will replace
the military as the primary security player in Ciudad Juarez, which
set off a volley of criticism from Calderon's detractors and some
supporters alike that the GOM's broader security strategy has
failed. Indeed, 2009 set new record levels of narcotics-related
violence, including a dramatic increase in Ciudad Juarez homicide
rates from 130 executions in 2006, 148 in 2007, 652 in 2008, to
well over 2000 in 2009, according to statistics from respected
Mexico City daily, "Reforma." Nevertheless, local press described
Garcia Luna's hearing as more congenial and "light" than his
September 24 congressional appearance, in which legislators
repeatedly called for his resignation and accused him of being a
"murderer" for civilian deaths during law enforcement operations.

Defense of GOM Strategy: It's Old News

--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) The Public Security Secretary's testimony focused on a
number of key issues, some of which were repeats from his September
24 appearance and other public discussions. Garcia Luna
highlighted GOM security accomplishments and defended the
administration's strategy, reporting that between December 1, 2006
and December 31, 2009, the GOM had made some 99,115
narcotics-related arrests. He did not, however, indicate how many
of those arrested had been tried or even formally charged with a
crime, an omission that has been the standard from him and other
GOM officials. He also underscored efforts to improve the Mexico's
intelligence apparatus, including the Federal Police's own work to
modernize and inaugurate a technologically up-to-date Intelligence
Center.

Adding Context, Casting Blame

--------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Garcia Luna repeated many themes the GOM has presented
before in other venues. He sought to place Mexico's security woes
in a broader context, arguing that the 2009 homicide rate, 14.7 for
every 100,000 inhabitants, is actually lower than the 1999 figure.
He noted that the 2009 rate makes Mexico safer than a number of
other countries, including Russia, Brazil, Colombia, and El
Salvador. The security czar also looked to divert some of the
blame from the federal government to state and local leaders, and
argued that 93 percent of all crimes committed in Mexico are those
that fall under state or municipal authorities, while only 7
percent are of federal responsibility. Additionally, Garcia Luna
claimed that an increase in domestic drug consumption - up to 4.7
million consumers in Mexico, including 1.7 users of cocaine and 3
million marijuana - is to blame for escalating crime rates since a
larger local market offers fertile ground for organized criminal
groups. Finally, Garcia Luna noted that a "historic" absence in
institutional investment in public security (meaning by past
administrations) had created large spaces of impunity easily
exploited by criminal groups.

Proposals

------------

6. (SBU) By way of concrete proposals, Garcia Luna suggested
addressing the state and local crime problem by reiterating his
call to reorganize Mexico's police by eliminating municipal
corporations in favor of 31 state-led forces (reftel). Speaking in
general terms, he also told his congressional audience that Mexico
must create a legal framework to guarantee the strengthening of
security institutions, protect systems containing information on
criminal information, institutionalize the police force throughout
the country, and revitalize a civic culture of respect. Garcia
Luna said the federal government will continue to use the military
in a frontal attack against drug trafficking organizations, and
called the Army a "bulwark" in counternarcotics operations.

Congressional Response

------------------------------

7. (SBU) Despite the hearing's more affable mood, legislators
prodded Garcia Luna on several topics. Worker Party (PT) Senator
Ricardo Monreal said that the positive figures quoted by the SSP
chief were "tricks," and the PRI bloc warned they might even be
false. According to press reports, Garcia Luna evaded tougher
questions on progress made against money laundering and in using
recently approved asset forfeiture legislation. Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI) Senator Ricardo Fidel Pacheco argued that
it is difficult to believe in Garcia Luna's vision of improvements
when the public holds the opposite perception. Revolutionary
Democratic Party (PRD) and PT legislators also agreed that the
Secretary's distinction between federal, state, and local level
crimes is a means of politicizing the problem. What is needed
instead, they claimed, is a shared vision of Mexico that goes
beyond one government and its party.

Comment

------------

8. (C) Despite some criticism from opposition sectors, Garcia
Luna's testimony seems a far cry from his experience in September.
Garcia Luna (and the GOM) is far from invulnerable to rhetorical
attack: several of his key points were repeats of past messages;
end-of-year narco-violence numbers set new records; and the partial
replacement of the military with the Federal Police in Ciudad
Juarez is being billed as a defeat of Calderon's security strategy.
He and the GOM are, however, coming off of recent counternarcotics
victories that may have temporarily taken some of the wind from the
opposition's sails. Nevertheless, when Congress again convenes on
February 1 and parties gear up for a series of gubernatorial
contests, the speechifying will undoubtedly again assume a far more
testy tone.
FEELEY

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