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Cablegate: Calderon Visits Juarez, Announces New Strategy

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0468
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM PETERSON AFB CO
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC

248767
2010-02-13 01:07:00
10MEXICO518
Embassy Mexico
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

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FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0468
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM PETERSON AFB CO
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 000518

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
WHA DAS JACOBSON, DIRECTOR LEE
NSC O'REILLY AND RESTREPO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MX PINR
SUBJECT: CALDERON VISITS JUAREZ, ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGY

1. (SBU) Summary: The January 31 murder of fifteen people in
Ciudad Juarez, most of whom were students with no known criminal
ties, captured the nation's attention and prompted increased
government engagement in the city from the federal and state
governments to restore security in the city. Most importantly, in
response to the Salvarcar massacre, President Calderon hastened the
announcement of a new Juarez strategy, which the GOM has been
developing with US Mission support. The new approach will not only
increase GOM's commitment to improving the capacity of law
enforcement and judicial institutions in Ciudad Juarez, but will
also invest in the necessary socio-economic interventions for
Juarez residents to resist criminal organizations in the long-term.
Calderon's announcement is consistent with the needs identified
during our assessment visit to Ciudad Juarez-El Paso and months of
bilateral engagement. End Summary

Juarez Massacre Sparks Public Outrage, GOM Response

2. (SBU) The January 31 murder of fifteen people, mostly high
school and university students, in a private home in the working
class Ciudad Juarez neighborhood of Villas de Salvarcar has
captured the nation's attention and convinced the GOM to move
quickly to revise its strategy to reduce violence in the city. The
attack, carried out by members of the Juarez Cartel, ignited an
outpouring of anger against state and federal authorities for not
preventing the death of so many youth, whom law enforcement
authorities say were innocent. January was the most violent month
in Mexico since Calderon initiated his war against organized crime,
with well over 900 narcotics-related homicides, 240 of which took
place in Juarez.

3. (SBU) The attack hastened the Calderon government's announcement
of an evolving security strategy in Juarez and has created an
unprecedented level of engagement by every level of government to
address the violence in Juarez. In his February 11 visit to
Juarez, President Calderon presented the GOM's estimated USD 230
million proposed action plan for Juarez, which focused on four key
themes: 1) Strengthening rule of law; 2) Building civilian police
and investigative forces, including enhanced intelligence capacity;
2) Socio-economic development, including investments in education,
health, and job creation; and 4) Civil society participation. He
unveiled the plan in a public forum to leaders from the city's
political, economic and social sectors, and received credit for
assuming partial responsibility for what he called the "city's dire
security situation and breakdown of social capital." Further, he
recognized that federal authorities need to better coordinate
actions with state and municipal governments and overcome political
differences if the plan is to succeed. He apologized for his
initial handling of the homicides - while in Tokyo, the President
publicly suggested that the victims were likely involved in illicit
activities - and also announced he will return to Juarez next week
to receive feedback from the community on the proposal.

4. (SBU) Calderon's announcement marked a shift toward a new
programmatic focus in Ciudad Juarez that will include
socio-economic development and community involvement to support law
enforcement's efforts to reduce violence. Notably, Secretary for
Education Alonso Lujambio and Secretary for Social Development
Heriberto Felix Guerra accompanied Calderon on the presidium, along
with the usual security players. Calderon's delegation also
represented a rare joint appearance by members of his National
Security Cabinet and Economic and Development Cabinet. Members of
Calderon's security team told the Ambassador that his delegation
was expanded at the last moment - a possible sign of his commitment
to Juarez and his effort to make a strong showing of federal force
there.

State Government, Opponents, Offer Their Take

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5. (SBU) Calderon's advance team was at work in Juarez on the new
strategy since at least the January 31 massacre, but pressure from
the Chihuahua State government and other political opponents
hastened the unveiling of the plan. Chihuahua Governor Jose Reyes
Baeza Terrazas had also received heavy public criticism after the
Salvarcar attack, and when President Calderon announced during his
February 1-2 trip to Japan his plan to integrate jobs, education
and drug treatment programs into his government's security package
for Juarez, Baeza accused the federal government of cutting the
state out of the program's planning process. (Note: That claim is
disingenuous. Baeza participated in a number of planning sessions
with federal agencies, including one with the Ambassador.) During
a visit to the Salvarcar site on February 3, Baeza emphasized that
any federal programming in Juarez must be coordinated with the
state and local governments, and complained that he had received no
information about the kinds of programs the GOM is considering for
the city. Baeza's visit to Salvarcar coincided with a national
security cabinet meeting in Mexico City to discuss the federal
government's strategy for Ciudad Juarez, to which the governor
claimed he was not invited.

6. (SBU) Baeza's frustrations were compounded by recent polls
showing that Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) gubernatorial
candidate Cesar Duarte's lead in the poll numbers over National
Action Party (PAN) rival Carlos Borruel had narrowed over the past
month from 40 to 20 percent in advance of state elections election
in July. By the time Calderon arrived in Juarez on February 11,
however, tensions between the federal and state governments were
reduced. Much of the credit for this could be attributed to the
intervening visit of Secretary of Government Fernando Gomez Mont.
During his visit on February 8, Gomez Mont visited the Salvarcar
massacre site and stressed the federal government's commitment to
working with state and local authorities on the new security and
development program.

7. (SBU) The massacre and its aftershocks reverberated in Mexico
City, as well, and Calderon's PRI and Revolutionary Democratic
Party (PRD) opponents accused the President of pursuing a failed
policy. Even members of his own PAN asked that the GOM's security
approach be revised in light of continued violence throughout the
country, and in Juarez particularly. Immediately following the
incident, the Senate called for the Secretaries of Public Security,
Defense, Navy, Government, and the Attorney General to testify -
the closed hearing is scheduled for February 16 and will be in
front of only twelve select senators.

8. (SBU) Meanwhile, in a move that took the GOM by surprise,
Governor Baeza also announced on February 6 his intention to
transfer state executive, legislative and judicial functions from
Chihuahua City to Ciudad Juarez for an indefinite period of time.
Baeza said that the move was to "ensure that the federal government
implements its social programming plan for Juarez in a manner
consistent with the city's needs." Public opinion polls and
Consulate conversations with local politicians, civil society, and
the private sector suggested that Juarez residents were skeptical
the proposed transfer of powers would have any impact on the
security situation, and in a February 12 vote the state
legislature's PAN bloc abstained; a measure to move the state
congress's functions to Juarez fell two votes short of the
two-thirds super-majority required. Still, the governor's office
says that Baeza intends to spend several days each week in Juarez.
[Note: As has commonly been the case in the past, Juarez Mayor Jose
Reyes Ferriz has been a non-factor in the aftermath of the
Salvarcar tragedy and the subsequent disputes between the federal
and state governments. If Governor Baeza and Agriculture Reform
Secretary Abelardo Escobar Prieto take up at least part-time
residence in Juarez (as promised by Calderon) to manage the new
programs, their presence could represent the kind of hands-on
governance that the city has lacked for some time.]

Comment

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9. (SBU) Ciudad Juarez has become emblematic of Mexico, shaping the
political debate domestically and perceptions of the country
internationally. The January 31 Salvacar massacre - while a new
low for the city - has prompted a previously unseen level of
attention by federal and state governments to resuscitate Ciudad
Juarez, with both Calderon and Baeza accepting ownership and
responsibility for both the city's ills and providing the remedies.
Additionally, the GOM's new Juarez strategy is a sign that the
Calderon government and Chihuahua state counterparts have taken on
what we have learned from months of bilateral engagement on this
topic - that the development of more effective judicial and
security institutions, as well as social and community side
solutions will create the institutions and opportunities necessary
for long-term success in the counternarcotics fight that an
exclusive focus on the capture of high-value targets will not.

10. (SBU) One of Calderon's key challenges is to channel the
public's new engagement - and anger - in Juarez and around the
country in a constructive way. A poll conducted by Ulises Beltran
and Associates following the Juarez massacre indicates that, while
67 percent of respondents support Calderon's counternarcotics
strategy, 60 percent still see the President as not having control
of the country. The GOM can address the public's growing weariness
by demonstrating results from a strategy that is broader than
arrests and raids and offers instead real citizen security on the
ground. This will not be easy, and the issues of impunity, lack of
accountability, and the need for real law and order are all
critical components that must be addressed in addition to
development and economic issues. Moreover, we should fully expect
security issues - and Juarez in particular - to be increasingly
politicized as the country moves toward state elections this summer
and presidential elections in 2012. Nevertheless, the USG is
well-placed to support efforts to implement new and creative
strategies, starting with the February 22 bilateral planning
session in El Paso. Building on the findings of the December
assessment visit to El Paso-Ciudad Juarez, the week-long event will
be a key opportunity for us to develop with Mexico the kind of
strategy it needs to re-establish control of Juarez's streets.
PASCUAL

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