Category Archives: Mexico

Mexico faces political and economic turmoil on the eve of Obama visit

By Don Knowland 
1 May 2013
US President Barack Obama is visiting Mexico Thursday amid rising political turbulence. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was forced to suspend this week’s planned introduction of federal legislation to reform the banking sector following the release of recorded evidence that operatives of his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the state of Veracruz had plotted to tie disbursement of federal anti-poverty funds to support for the PRI in the upcoming July 7 state elections.
Peña Nieto took over as president in December after 12 years of rule by the right-wing National Action Party (PAN), which itself followed on 71 uninterrupted years of PRI rule. The Veracruz scandal called into question, at least temporarily, the viability of the so-called Pact for Mexico. A deal was reached last December between these two parties and the third major Mexican party, the center-“left” Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), to back Peña Nieto’s “reform” agenda.
This 34-page agreement proposed 95 reforms to the judicial and educational systems, national security, labor relations and the banking, energy and media sectors of the economy.
At the time that the PRD’s president, Jesús Zambrano, signed the pact, the party’s general secretary, Alejandro Sánchez Camacho, said that Zambrano’s signature was a personal choice, and did not bind the PRD. But so far the PRD has supported the legislation, including Mexico’s recent labor reform bill, which allows hourly wages for a maximum of eight hours per day, temporary hires, subcontracting labor, and probationary employment periods of up to six months. The legislation was passed after measures purportedly aimed at creating union transparency and accountability were weakened at the hands of PRI and PRD legislative deputies, who have long maintained cozy relations with corrupt union bosses.
In his campaign, Peña Nieto had promised a new, more democratic and less corrupt PRI. The revelations of election corruption in Veracruz naturally call all this into question.
PRI Social Development Minister Rosario Robles, a former PRD member, initially came under heavy fire for these shenanigans. When Peña Nieto refused to fire her, additional sparks flew. As a result, Peña Nieto was forced a few days later to insist there would be no tolerance for the use of social programs for electoral ends.
The PAN, said its leader, Gustavo Madero, would not attend the banking reform presentation in the wake of the corruption allegations, threatening to withdraw from the pact. Certain PRD officials then echoed this threat.
On Friday of last week, Mexican Government Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong told the Spanish daily El Pais that the crisis of the Pact for Mexico arising from the corruption allegations had not been overcome.
Jesús Ortega, former chairman of the PRD and a member of the pact’s presiding board, told Reuters that the reform would proceed once the inter-party disputes are settled. Jesús Zambrano, president of the PRD and another member of the pact’s board, after initially expressing outrage, agreed. Similar sentiments were expressed by other senior officials of the PAN.
According to the Mexican weekly magazine El Proceso, representatives of all three parties in fact met over the weekend and reportedly agreed to measures to shield social programs from being used for electoral ends.
An indication of how this will play out will likely be seen in whether a sweeping telecom sector bill passes this week as expected. The bill was ostensibly designed to curb the power of billionaire Carlos Slim Helú’s phone giant América Móvil and the largest Mexican broadcaster Televisa, permitting competition from foreign and domestic firms.
The immediate casualty of the dustup was a delay in the banking legislation. Mexico’s commercial credit market, at 10 percent of GDP, is the smallest of any country in Latin America, with less than half the share in Brazil. That is because historically, Mexican banks have preferred to make money on high-interest rate credit cards, buying government bonds and lending to large companies.
Because it is difficult to execute on loan collateral in Mexico, small and mid-sized businesses, which account for 98 percent of companies in Mexico and employ 70 percent of its workers, have had great difficulty obtaining credit. Under the new banking plan, government development banks will offer more loan guarantees through commercial bank lenders, along the lines of the Brazilian model.
What has been invariably left unsaid is that because almost all large Mexican banks are now owned by giant foreign banks, the legislation will greatly benefit them as well.
In 2009, the Mexican economy, the thirteenth largest in the world, plummeted 6.4 percent. Mexico averaged 2.5 percent growth over the last decade, slower than the 3.6 percent pace in this period for all of Latin America. Last year the Mexican economy grew 3.9 percent, far faster than Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, which had stalled.
The securities firm Nomura has predicted that the economic overhaul will help Mexico overtake Brazil in GDP within a decade. But the economy expanded at the slowest year-on-year pace in more than three years last month, due to a drop in industrial activity.
Mexico’s unemployment rate also rose in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.01 percent, further stoking concerns of sluggish growth. Official unemployment rates still have not reached pre-crisis rates, which were below 4 percent.
Rising wages in China since the 2009 crisis have, in fact, led many firms to relocate their manufacturing plants to Mexico, where wages remain relatively low. The labor legislation passed earlier this year was designed to constrain wages in order to maintain this competitive advantage.
Easier access to US and Canadian markets through the North American Free Trade Agreement, and shorter distances to travel to these markets, have also contributed to the increase in Mexican production.
US-Mexico trade amounted to $500 billion last year. Mexico is the most important export market for 22 of the 50 US states.
Much of the recent growth in the Mexican economy is due to foreign direct investment in high-tech production in Mexico’s central states, from Jalisco to the west to Guanajuato and Aguascalientes to Querétero in the east. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, in Jalisco, is now heralded as Mexico’s Silicon Valley.
According to Peña Nieto’s chief economic adviser, Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, the overall goal of the Pact for Mexico program is to boost annual economic growth to 6 percent.
Other economic measures Videgaray says he expects to contribute to the higher growth rate are “zero deficits—excluding investment in state oil company Pemex—and fiscal responsibility.”
Peña Nieto is stressing foreign investment to upgrade the productivity of Pemex, which has seen production drop from 3.8 million barrels per day in 2004 to just 2.9 million in 2011. In its turn to opening the Mexican economy to international exploitation, the PRI, which nationalized foreign oil holdings under President Lázaro Cardenas in 1938, long ago dropped its populist and nationalist objections to selling off Pemex.
Peña Nieto has discussed going beyond joint ventures with foreign companies to permitting investment in ownership of Pemex, even though the Mexican constitution bans this.
In the last two elections, the PRD’s presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, raged against privatizing Pemex. But since the December election, that position has been exposed as little more than political showboating. Now elements of the PRD have eagerly embraced these proposals to restructure Pemex. They simply want to maintain their relations with the corporatist leadership of the oil workers union during that process.
In the final analysis, all three of the major Mexican political parties are now united in opening up the Mexican economy to foreign capital. All have become conscious servants of international finance capital.
Their unity in approving the Pact for Mexico reflects this. Whatever squabbles they may have amount to tactical disagreements about how to best accomplish these ends.
Inevitably, despite some political grandstanding over the Veracruz electoral scandal, all of the Mexican bourgeois parties will back these reforms so as not to upset investor confidence.
Accolades for Mexico’s reforms have come from the highest levels of international finance. At a press conference in March during a meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF’s director, Christine Lagarde, lauded Peña Nieto’s reform program, particularly stressing his efforts at “privatization of various sectors of the economy.”
Over the last year, indirect foreign investment in Mexico has reached a flood, with Mexican shares and bonds routinely depicted as highly promising. Foreign funds tracked by the EPFR Global index invested a record $8.78 billion in private Mexican debt in 2012.
This investor optimism overlooks that growth in the Mexican economy, geared for exports, is completely tied to the fate of the world economy, which continues on shaky footing and is heading downward.
The Mexican bourgeoisie and its “reform” program also ignore the precarious position and suffering of the Mexican working class. Over half of Mexico’s population, well over 50 million people, continue to live in poverty. Upwards of 18 million Mexicans go hungry.
Most jobs created since the 2009 economic crisis pay only around $10 a day. A high percentage have been temporary or part time. Yet the cost of food and other necessities continues to rise. This is the result of international speculation in commodities and the gearing of large-scale Mexican agricultural production for export.
In contrast, the wealth of the richest 39 Mexican families amounts to over 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The wealth of the ten richest people in Mexico, including that of Carlos Slim Helú, the world’s richest man, exceeds ten percent of GDP.
The Mexican working class has no voice whatsoever, including among the groups that posture as “left” critics of the reform programs.
Conditions are growing increasingly ripe for mass struggles against the current political and economic order. These are being fueled by Peña Nieto’s reforms. Recent struggles of teachers across the central and southern Mexican states of Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca and elsewhere reflect this brewing cauldron. (See “Teachers struggle erupts in Mexican state of Guerrero”)
During his visit this week, Obama is expected to join in the accolades for reform of the Mexican economy and push to end any lingering restrictions on the penetration of US capitalist investment.
Behind the scenes, Obama will attempt to deal with a new setup in terms of the security relationship between the US and Mexico.
During the six years of Felipe Calderon’s presidency, the US played a historically unprecedented role in Mexico’s internal security. It spent $2 billion providing intelligence and drug agents, police and military trainers, drone aircraft and other assistance. CIA, DEA, FBI and border patrol agents had direct access and worked side by side with units of Mexico’s federal police, army, navy and other agencies. These activities were purportedly focused on Calderon’s “war” against the drug cartels, which cost 70,000 lives while thousands of others disappeared.
Much of this activity had been channeled through a powerful Public Security Ministry, which included the federal police. A law approved December 13, 2012 dissolved that agency, leaving all federal security efforts under the umbrella of the Interior Ministry.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Sergio Alcocer, deputy Mexican foreign secretary for North American affairs, emphasized that all US contacts will now have to go through senior channels at the interior ministry.
Alcocer seemed to depict the drug war as a diversion from Mexico’s striving “to convert the North American region into the most competitive and the most dynamic region of the world,” and “integration” of the US and Mexican economies.
The Chicago Tribune said Monday that the PRI wants to assert much more control over how US officials operate in Mexico, citing a former Mexican official with close ties to the administration who said that the “doors [to the Americans] are closing.”
This may not prove to be so easy, given that US involvement has become so deeply entrenched in Mexico’s security establishment.

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Teachers’ struggles escalate across Mexico

By Rafael Azul 
30 April 2013
Across México last week, tens of thousands of teachers mobilized in rejection of the education reforms imposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto. On May Day this Wednesday, teachers and their supporters are planning mass mobilizations in Guerrero, Jalisco, and Mexico City to repudiate the education and labor policies promoted by Peña Nieto’s PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and the other major Mexican political parties as the centerpiece of their “Pact for México.”
The education reform law, which was approved by the Mexican Congress and ratified by a majority of state legislatures, is being motivated as a means to improve student performance and weaken the power of the unions, attacks job security in teaching, making educators dependent on what the government calls “universal evaluation” exams. Even veteran teachers would be subject to sackings, depending on their evaluation. In the last few weeks, teachers have escalated their mobilizations in many parts of the country, including Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guerrero.
Peña Nieto’s so-called reforms have polarized a teachers union that for years had been divided between the official SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Educación) and the CNTE (Confederación National de Trabajadores de Educación). The SNTE President, Juan Díaz de la Torre, was appointed to lead the union by Peña Nieto after the arrest of its former president Elba Gordillo for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars in union funds. He fully backs the education reform and collaborates closely with Peña Nieto and the PRI.
The CNTE, and other SNTE factions, are organizing and mobilizing teachers across México against the reform.
The government’s policy would pave the way for the dismantling of public education and its replacement with religious and private schools.
Michoacán: Mexican teachers and normalistas (students at Normal (teaching) colleges) escalated their struggles across the state.
On April 27 In Morelia, the state capital, 500 normalistas from eight teaching colleges blocked downtown streets and occupied a shopping center. The demonstrators carried signs repudiating the education reform that makes the hiring of teachers contingent on examinations. Instead, they are demanding that the Michoacán government guarantee posts to Normal school graduates. In addition, the students and teachers are demanding the creation of 200,000 more teaching posts. Last month the teachers had petitioned the state government for decent wages and benefits, as well as free supplies, shoes and uniforms for the students.
The Michoacán state government has refused to oppose the Peña Nieto reforms, and argues that there is no money for more jobs, decent wages and benefits, or for supplies, shoes and uniforms.
Michoacan Governor Jesús Reina García vowed to prosecute teaching students and teachers for allegedly stealing state vehicles to block a highway outside of Morelia.
Two days earlier, Michoacán normalistas and teachers, members of the SNTE had taken over highway tollbooths, while 14,817 members of the CNTE walked off their jobs at 3,000 schools, affecting 25 percent of the State’s students.
Guerrero: Following the issuing of an arrest order last week against leaders of the teachers union over a protest that saw that saw the sacking of PRI and other political party offices, Guerrero police announced their intention to set up check points to prevent their escape. Minervino Morán, leader of the Oaxaca union, announced that mobilizations would continue across the state.
Adding to the teachers’ anger was the decision to release—supposedly for lack of evidence—Ismael Matadamas Salinas and Rey David Cortes Flores, two state security officers who had been charged with the murder of Gabriel Echeverría de Jesús and Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino, two normalistas from the Ayotzinapa Normal College. Police gunned down Herrera and Echeverría de Jesús during a protest march in 2011.
On Thursday, a group of 1,000 teachers stoned the state attorney’s office over the liberation of the arrested police officers. The protesters also stoned the offices of the PRI-affiliated union federation, the SNTE.
A massive protest march is planned in Guerrero for May 1. In addition to the Guerrero teachers, delegations are expected from Michoacán and Chiapas. “This is not over,” declared a Guerrero educator to CNN.
In response to the violent protests last week, the federal administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto, announced that it was sending security agents to “intervene, if necessary,” against the teachers. 
Jalisco: The state legislature has provisionally suspended imposing the measures of the education reform law in Jalisco, maintaining relative labor peace with teachers. However, all factions of the SNTE have called for marches on May Day and are inviting parents and members of other unions to join them in the repudiation of the new law.
Mexico City: On April 25, over 2,500 teachers and students marched in the nation’s capital fighting for the rejection of so-called universal evaluation that the Peña Nieto reform would mandate.
Baja California: On April 23, hundreds of protesting teachers invaded the state legislature in Mexicali, protesting the education reform. The protesters, chanting, “Fighting educators are educators that teach,” forced the legislature to suspend its session for the day.
Baja California Sur: On April 19, teachers belonging to the SNTE and to its dissident faction, the CNTE, fought each other for possession of the union headquarters in the city of La Paz. A CNTE spokesperson accused the SNTE leadership of attempting to “demobilize” teachers, who are rejecting Peña Nieto’s reforms across México. Though the Baja California Sur section of SNTE has so far not joined in the protest demonstrations, an SNTE spokesperson denounced the overcrowding that exists in the schools, with 50 or more students in elementary school classrooms, making effective teaching impossible.
Chiapas: Ten thousand educators marched in the city of Tuxla Guerrero on April 20; the Chiapas SNTE, dominated by the CNTE, has called for a teachers’ strike, set to begin on May 1. “We will not allow education to be subordinated to corporate interests,” declared CNTE leader Alelfo Alejandro Gómez. “We will aggressively defend free, public education.”

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Teachers struggle erupts in Mexican state of Guerrero

By Rafael Azul 
26 April 2013
The governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, issued arrest orders on April 24 against two leaders of the Guerrero Teachers Union (Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores de la Educación en Guerrero,CETEG): Minervino Morán and Gonzalo Juárez.
Both are charged as the intellectual authors of popular upheavals that erupted in connection with the escalating struggle of Guerrero state teachers in defense of their jobs and in opposition to Mexican President’s Enrique Peña Nieto call for the reform of education.
The arrest order is the latest in a series of government attacks on the teachers’ movement in Guerrero, and throughout Mexico, that have included police repression and provocations. Protests are being criminalized.
“They are vandals; they are delinquents,” said Aguirre, also accusing CETEG of being connected to the ERPI guerrilla movement (Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army –Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente) that operates in the state.
The Guerrero public school teachers began their protest strike on February 25 2013. At issue is their opposition to the Education Reform of President Peña Nieto. In March, the Guerrero government appeared to have signed an agreement with the CETEG that included the preservation of free and public education, respect for the existing rights of education workers, and “democratic evaluations” on teacher performance, a measure that would have allowed the union the proverbial seat at the table with school management and the government. The Guerrero government agreed to pay teachers’ wages lost during the strike.
Teachers resumed their protests in April when it became evident that the governor was going back on the agreed settlement. On April 5, 3,000 teachers and their supporters—members of the union of public employees (Sindicato Único de Trabajadores Públicos, SUSPEG), the United Front of Teaching Schools (Frente Único de Escuelas Normales, FUNPEG)—barricaded the highway that connects Guerrero’s resort city of Acapulco with México City. They were attacked by a 1,500-member police force, leaving three teaches wounded and five arrested.
While many chanted ¡Cuidado, Cuidado con Guerrero que es estado guerrillero! (“Don’t mess with Guerrero; it is a state of guerrilleros!”), the educators held their ground for about half an hour. Press reports describe the retreating teachers as angry, with many in tears, but undeterred.
Confrontations between teachers and state security forces are not new, or unique to Guerrero. On December 12, 2011, on the same highway, police killed two students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college, Gabriel Echeverría de Jesús, and Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino. Violent clashes have also taken place in Oaxaca, Michoacán and other states.
The strikes and protests continued with marches, picketing and rallies. The Aguirre administration claimed that 59 schools, out of 300 were shut down by the strike. On April 8, the governor threatened to replace strikers who did not return to their posts. Days later, legislators met in Acapulco to discuss modifications to the Guerrero Education Code.
On April 24, the legislature rejected some of the union’s demands, including its demand to be part of the evaluation of teachers. “ No se pudo” (it could not be done), shoulder-shrugged a PRD legislator, claiming that the CETEG demand for a democratic evaluation process for teachers, was “unconstitutional.” The legislature did agree to a union proposal to abolish student fees and make public education in the state free for all who attend.
On the same day, a mass demonstration in repudiation of the legislature’s decision culminated in an attack on the headquarters of the National Action Party (PAN), the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Citizen’s Movement (Movimiento Ciudadano, MC), in the city of Chilpancingo, resulting in broken windows and vandalized property.
Inexplicably, police are said to have stood by while the vandalism was taking place, limiting themselves to protecting a nearby municipal building. Face-masked individuals entered the buildings threw furniture out the windows and sprayed painted the interior with signs denouncing the politicians’ betrayal. According to the Mexico City weekly Proceso magazine, the vandals attacked and insulted women reporters and the media.
Government explanations were contradictory. Governor Aguirre was unable to explain why it was that the police did not intervene to stop the attacks and placed the blame for the incident squarely on the CETEG leadership, ordering the arrest of Morán and Juarez, and breaking off talks with CETEG negotiators. The talks have since resumed.
In Chilpancingo, Government Secretary Humberto Salgado Gómez threatened that “there will be no quarter given; those that are responsible will have to bear their guilt.” Salgado explained that provocateurs had initiated the vandalism to invite repression from the authorities. The police did not intervene, he said, because it had information that the attackers had Molotov cocktail type gasoline bombs.
Salgado would not elaborate who the provocateurs could have been or how the police knew about the gasoline bombs; later on he declared that teachers were under investigation.
Peña Nieto’s reform legislation is part of a package of reforms (counter-reforms, really) inspired by the right-wing business group “Mexicans First” (Mexicanos Primero, MP), designed to undo many of the populist and nationalist reforms associated with the Mexican Revolution, and to subordinate education to the profits needs of big business.
The Mexican president’s draft education reform is very similar to US President Barack Obama’s “race to the top.” As in the United States, it has the support of all the main bourgeois parties (PAN, PRI, and PRD) through their “Pact for Mexico.’”
Governor Aguirre himself belongs to the PRD, a bourgeois party that posed as a “left” breakaway from the PRI, the party that ruled Mexico uninterruptedly for seven decades.
The strategy being followed in Mexico, which includes singling out and slandering educators in the mass media for the supposed failures of public education, shares the script being used by Mexico’s northern neighbor. As in the US, the position of the teachers unions has been not to reject the reactionary plan, but to demand that they be included as partners.
Behind a mask of intransigent radicalism and militancy, the CETEG is no different than its US counterparts. Minervino Morán confirmed yesterday that the violent protest against the parties’ headquarters had been in retaliation for the legislative vote—the demonstrators were “responding to the approval by the local congress of an education reform that ignored our proposals,” he said.
In particular, he cited the union’s demand for a democratic evaluation process—i.e., one in which the CETEG would act as a partner with the Aguirre administration. The union spokesman also charged that state legislators had voted in accordance with instructions from the governor and President Peña Nieto in violation of separation of powers and of Guerrero’s state’s rights. He described the vandalisms as “radical” tactics that were part of a “popular movement strategy to defend Guerrero’s sovereignty.”
Morán also demanded that Aguirre’s arrest orders be lifted, warning that “otherwise there will be a bigger confrontation.”
In their rejection of the new legislation, the CETEG leaders threatened to extend their movement to the rest of México, and called for a massive mobilization of teachers and their supporters on May 1, International Workers Day.
Behind its militant posturing and Guerrero nationalism, the CETEG is looking to engage in horse trading of a different form. For his part, Governor Aguirre will likely use the lifting of the arrest order as a negotiating card of his own to extract concessions from the CETEG bureaucracy at the expense of the teachers.
Parallel to the struggle of Guerrero education workers, teachers protests have taken place in nearby Oaxaca State, in Michoacán and Chihuahua, across the US-México border.
Defeating the “reform” drive for privatization of education requires the development of a united political offensive by teachers and the entire working class of Mexico, independent of the bureaucratized trade unions. Such a movement, which would find allies among teachers in the US facing the same kind of attacks, must be based on the demand for the material resources necessary for quality public education for all, as part of a revolutionary struggle against the capitalist profit system.

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Mexican government prepares a dirty war

By Rafael Azul 
25 February 2013
As Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration approaches its third month in power, it is rapidly escalating the militarization of Mexican society. A combination of commando special operation forces and paramilitary death squads, both equipped by and in close contact with the US military, is being placed at the service of Mexican big business and transnational corporations. Increasingly Mexico is operating under an unofficial state of siege.
Since Peña and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) took over from President Felipe Calderón and the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN) on December 1, 2012, a long-standing relationship between the Pentagon and the Mexican Government has intensified.
On January 17, the Associated Press reported that the US military will open a new operations center in Colorado to train Mexican security personnel that will confront criminal drug and smuggling syndicates—utilizing the same counterinsurgency methods as the US military in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The announcement followed the news that US special operations forces have helped the Mexican Government establish its own CIA-like agency, the National Intelligence Center (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, CNI), in Mexico City.
The military training center will be under the command of NORTHCOM, the division of the Pentagon for North American operations. In addition to other duties, Mexican police and army officials will be trained in setting up a network of intelligence agencies, similar to those that carry out the criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then-US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta established the program on December 31.
Both Mexican and US officials went out of their way to present the program as business as usual, except that from now on the US commander of the program will have the rank of general. In a written statement, Navy Captain Jeff Davis declared, “We are merely placing a component commander in charge of things we are already doing.”
The current training at the NORTCHOM station in Colorado is part of a 2008 military-to-military agreement. That program will now be expanded and upgraded to accommodate up to 150 students at a time; presently, it trains 30.
Under the Merida initiative—which provided $2 billion in military resources to Mexico—the government of Felipe Calderón gave free rein to US agencies such as the CIA, DEA, FBI, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) and to private contractors under their supervision.
Their agents would routinely carry out activities banned in the United States, such as money laundering and torture training; they also provided criminal drug cartels with weapons. By 2011, there were hundreds of US operatives inside Mexico.
Also in operation throughout Mexico is USAID (Agency for International Development). This last agency was instrumental in setting up and supporting military-fascist regimes in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Brazil in the 1970s. The agency supposedly is in Mexico for other reasons, such as criminal judicial reform and the mitigation of crime and violence.
Although Calderón is no longer in office, this close relationship with the US State Department and the Pentagon is escalating under the PRI government. It has the support of all the parties in the Legislature that signed the Pro Mexico Agreement (Pacto por México, in Spanish), the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democratico), the Green Party (Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano, PVEM) the PAN and PRI.
In August of 2012, a WikiLeaks cable revealed that a secret agreement has existed between the Pentagon and the Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina, SEMAR). The agreement specifies that all exchanges of “national security” information between those two bodies would be kept confidential; no government authority, corporation, institution or organization would have access.
Dubbed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the pact was signed in September 2008. Admiral Francisco Saynez, who headed SEMAR under Calderón, had signed it behind the backs of the Mexican people. Once the WikiLeaks cable became public, the official story became that this secret pact was to protect Mexican borders against drug contraband.
The agreement led to an unprecedented exchange of information between NORTHCOM and SEMAR on the drug war and on the war on terrorism. The Obama administration defines the drug cartels as examples of “narco-terrorism,” and by doing so places Mexico under the umbrella of the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war.
The American military involvement in Mexico is part of a broader policy of military intervention in the region. At any one time, some 4,000 US military personnel operate in Central America and the Caribbean, allegedly to interdict the flow of drugs into the US. In Mexico alone, over 2,000 US personnel were involved in the training of Mexican military forces.
The war on organized crime provides a pretext to expand military policing, though use of the military as a repressive tool against the working class is not new in México. It was a feature of the PAN’s 12-year rule (under Vicente Fox in 2000 and Calderón in 2006).
For this purpose, the government counted on the collaboration of both the PRI, the PRD as well as the CT (Mexican Labor Federation, Congreso de Trabajadores) against Oaxaca teachers and public employees, in 2006 and 2011, as well as against striking miners and steel workers in Michoacán in 2006. In Michoacán, a combined federal and state force of 1,000 attacked striking workers at the Lázaro Cárdenas steel mill, accusing the workers of “terrorism.” Two young workers were killed and 30 others injured.
During the Calderón presidency, the drug war was always the reason given to further institutionalize the army as a repressive force; to pass legislation that outlawed social protests and legitimized the violation of human rights; and to carry out, with legal impunity, the disappearance, torture and death of thousands of innocent citizens. Complaints of torture increased fivefold between 2006 and 2012.
In May 2012 twin documents by Amnesty International and by the US State Department cited “multiple reports of forced disappearances by the army, navy, and police.”
Peña has appointed Ardelio Vargas Fosado to head the National Institute of Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración, in Spanish, INM), a man with a well-established reputation as a violent repressor of the working class. The INM deals with the hundreds of thousands of Central American immigrants that each year travel north through Mexico on their way to the United States and who routinely fall prey to criminal gangs and corrupt police officials. As Chief of the Federal Preventive Police, Vargas had led—under Peña’s orders—the savage attacks on the people of San Salvador de Atenco in 2006, plus the repression of Oaxaca teachers the same year.
According to Vargas, the movement of Central Americans through Mexico has become a “national security issue” that must be handled “with precision.”
In addition to special and regular military forces, Peña is proposing setting up paramilitary squads made up of former soldiers and police officers in order to carry out more “surgical campaigns.”
Phrases like “surgical campaigns” and “with precision” echo the language used by Latin American dictatorships of the 1970s to describe the kidnapping, torture and disappearance of political opponents and the suppression of class struggle.
Vargas’s Colombian counterpart, Police Chief Oscar Naranjo, himself a notorious violator of human rights, has been tapped by president Peña to help set up the paramilitary forces. As a police chief in Cali, and as chief of the National Police, Naranjo was instrumental in setting up the paramilitary death squads that terrorized Colombian workers and peasants.
Recounting Naranjo’s intimate ties to the DEA and other US police agencies, an investigative article by the Mexican daily La Jornada, described the ex-Colombian police chief as having been turned into “Washington’s export product to the subcontinent,” bringing with him expertise in the organization and cover-up of dirty wars.
Then candidate Peña tapped Naranjo to serve as an “adviser” in the face of pressure from Washington that he provide assurances that the PRI—out of power for a dozen years after its uninterrupted 71-year-long rule—would escalate the militarization of Mexico pursued under the PAN and Calderón.

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US Border Patrol Selling Weapons to Mexican Drug Cartel

By Project Censored
February 19, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – With 21,000 agents and 700 miles of fencing, the US Border Patrol plays a big role in securing the border our nation shares with Mexico. The border control efforts did not take-off until after 9/11, when the Department of Homeland Security focused some of its resources on Border Control. A government witness named “Victoria,” a former member of the Sinaloa Cartel’s enforcer group “Gente Nueva” under the “Javelin” subgroup whose job was to execute individuals in rival groups, testified that the the Border Patrol was supplying weapons to the Sinaloa Cartel.
In January 2012, the Mexican government issued the death toll for drug-related killings as 47,515 people. The guns supplied by the Border Patrol are aiding the Sinaloa Cartel to fight off rivals like the Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva Organization. How far should the United States turn its head until this Drug War winds up in our own backyard? Many accuse the Obama administration of allowing guns to enter Mexico; promoting other gang related violence. Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s President, did not emphasize stopping drug shipments or capturing drug kingpins. He suggested that while Mexico should continue to work with the United States government against organized crime, it should not “subordinate to the strategies of other countries”. By turning a blind on on thiese crimes, we are not helping secure our border.
Americans should not fear immigration but fear the drugs that are associated with the Sinaloa Cartel. Mr. Calderon, Mexico’s previous President, states that Mexico has failed in its attempts to stop cartels governing a state within a state; by levying taxes, putting roadblocks in place and implementing their gang’s rules of perverse codes of behavior the cartels have become the new authority . The Border Patrol providing the Sinaloa Cartel with guns has led to the Sinaloa Cartel taking the turf of Mexico’s west desert while simultaneously building up their drug territory all the way to the United States border.
Alden, Edward. “Immigration and Border Control.” Cato. N.p., n.d. Web. <;.
Farago, Robert. “More Evidence That Feds Armed the Sinaloas. On Purpose.” The Truth About Guns. N.p., 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. .
Maung, David. “Mexican Drug Trafficking (Mexico’s Drug War).” Mexican Drug Trafficking (Mexico’s Drug War). N.p., 09 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. .
Taylor, Jared. “Fast And Furious: Mother Of U.S. Federal Agent Claims Gun From Botched Operation Killed Son.” HUFF POST. N.p., n.d. Web. .
Student Researchers: Carson White and Michael Downs
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley
Evaluator: Bret O’Bannon, Political Science Department, DePauw University
This article was originally posted at Project Censored

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US Training of Mexican Troops Has Escalated in Step With Mexico’s Murder Rate

Boots-On-The-Ground Instruction Carried Out by US Military in Mexico City, Campeche and Chiapas — Home of the Zapatistas
By Bill Conroy 
February 19, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – US training of Mexican military forces spiked in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, coinciding with a sharp rise in drug-war homicides in Mexico, an analysis of records made public under the Foreign Assistance Act show.
The training in those two years, funded by the US Department of Defense, and to a lesser extent by the US Department of State, covered a wide range of military skill sets and involved hundreds of training programs offered in the US to Mexican forces as well as dozens (at least 60) provided inside Mexico.
For example, in Mexico City during that two-year period, the US military provided to Mexican security forces training in, among other tactics, “asymmetrical conflict,” “anti-terrorism,” and “open-source intelligence” gathering. US military training also was provided in other parts of Mexico, including the state of Campeche, where infantry, marksmanship and intelligence programs were offered to Mexican troops; and in Chiapas, in fiscal 2011, infantry training was provided to Mexican Marines over two-week periods in April and September.
The latter training programs might be considered particularly sensitive for Mexican politics, given the Mexican state of Chiapas is home to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials).
The Zapatistas are a rebel indigenous group governing more than 1,000 rural communities that rose up in arms in 1994. However, since peace talks were initiated in 1995, the Zapatistas have not fired a shot and have converted to peaceful and civil resistance.
In the 1990s, under Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, a member of the PRI Party, an unsuccessful, violent counter-insurgency campaignwas waged against the Zapatistas that involved the use of both the Mexican military and civilian paramilitary forces — as part of an effort to destroy the indigenous movement and its autonomous communities.
On another sensitive front for Latin American/US relations, Foreign Assistance Act records reveal that US military training also was provided to Mexican soldiers in fiscal 2010 and 2011 by the US Department of Defense’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation(WHINSEC). The Institute was formerly the School of the Americas, which, in past decades, provided training to some of the most notorious violators of human rights in Latin America.
WHINSEC, now reportedly reformed and sensitive to human rights, offered at least 10 different training programs (some multiple times) to Mexican troops in fiscal 2010 and 2011 in subjects such as “counter-narco-terrorism,” “joint operations” and “counterdrug ops,” according to data provided to Congress under the requirements of the Foreign Assistance Act.
US officials interviewed by Narco News contend that any correlation between increased US military training and rising homicide rates in Mexico is nothing more than “anecdotal.” They argue further that, based on the US military’s internal “classified” assessments, there is no evidence that Mexican troops trained by the US are subsequently being drafted into organized crime rings or otherwise involved in narco-trafficking corruption. In fact, a DoD official actually argues that the homicide rate in Mexico could likely be reduced if there were a more “persistent” use of military force to counter the “cartel” violence in affected regions in Mexico.
However, the correlation between US training and Mexico’s homicide rate remains striking, and there is public-source evidence pointing to significant corruption within Mexico’s military that arguably could exploit US military training. Also, the trajectory of the drug war to date makes clear that the more Mexican security forces attack criminal organizations, the more violence those groups commit, including against civilians, to protect their markets and turf from both the government and rival organizations.
The hard-nosed military strategy pursued by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón in prosecuting the drug war, as a result, has failed to adequately account for the blowback on the civilian population of Mexico, some critics charge.
Mexico’s new president, PRI Party member Enrique Peña Nieto, is promising a different course in the drug-war conflict, recently announcing plans to direct a considerable amount of funding, $9.2 billion (US dollars) this year, to social programs — though he offers few specifics. Peña Nieto also is promising to put an emphasis on aggressively pursuing street-level crime (extortion, kidnapping, gang violence) as opposed to targeting narco-trafficking “kingpins” — the latter a strategy pursued at great cost by his PAN Party predecessor.
But is Peña Nieto’s drug-war strategy really that much different than Calderón’s, or is his policy rhetoric simply a mask concealing a much-less innovative plan — an approach already being pursued by the Mexican security forces, with US help, for years now?
The Numbers
In fiscal 2006, ended Sept. 30 of that year, just prior to Calderón assuming the presidency in December, total funding for US training provided to Mexican troops totaled $1.3 million. In fiscal 2010 (which began Oct. 1, 2009), that figure jumped to $12.6 million; and a year later, for fiscal 2011 (the latest year for which finalized figures are available), US funding jumped to $15.2 million.
Likewise, the total number of Mexican security forces trained annually by the US military exploded from 632 in fiscal 2006 to 2,206 in fiscal 2011, according to figures released under the Foreign Assistance Act.
Homicides in Mexico totaled 10,452 in 2006, according to INEGI (the Mexican State Statistics Agency). In 2009, that number jumped to 19,803; and then to 25,757 in 2010; in 2011, the number rose again, to 27,213.
Though the uptick in Mexican homicides began in 2008, within a year of then-President Calderón’s deploying the Mexican military in large numbers in the drug war, the three-year period (2009-2011) in which Mexican homicides hit a zenith during his presidency clearly tracks closely with the steep increase in US military training provided to Mexican troops over that same period.
That training is overseen by US Northern Command (Northcom), a DoD branch created in 2002 that is responsible for US homeland defense as well as security cooperation efforts with The Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.
Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for Northcom, explains that the Mexican government ultimately controls the US military training provided to Mexico, whether funded by DoD or the State Department.
“The way it’s done is that it’s up to the Mexico to decide what training we [the US military] provide,” Kucharek says. “We provide them with a list [of options], and the Mexican military decides what they want.”
Kucharek adds that “we [DoD] do not see the training as counter-productive” and stresses that any perceived relationship between US funding for military training for Mexico and that nation’s homicide rate is “anecdotal.” He insists there is no real evidence to show that the US-trained Mexican soldiers are joining the ranks of criminal groups and committing murders.
“We do not see it that way,” he says. “We think journalists are making a leap (when they claim Mexican soldiers are joining organized crime in large numbers). Just so you know, we have our own way to check on those dynamics. … I think what is being taken as fact (with respect to Mexican soldiers trained by the US later being linked to narco-trafficking) may not, in fact, be fact.”
Kucharek, in essence, says the blame for Mexico’s huge homicide problem (more than 120,000 murdered and some 25,000 disappeared over Calderón’s term in office) has more to do with inadequate military force.
“It is a war among cartels who themselves are under increasing pressure [by Calderón’s military strategy],” he says. “Where it is not working, it is because of the lack of persistent force in some areas of Mexico to combat it [narco-violence].
“[New Mexican President] Peña Nieto now wants to sink more money into social programs as an alternative to the lure of the cartels,” Kucharek adds. “We’ll see if that works, but expect military-to-military and security cooperation [between the US and Mexico] to continue.”
Kucharek’s bullishness on the Mexican military and the benefits of US training, though, doesn’t seem to square with the facts on the ground in Mexico that are not classified. A January 2013 report by Human Rights Watch points out that between January 2007 and April 2012, the Mexican military opened some 5,000 investigations into human rights violations carried out by Mexican soldiers against civilians, yet “military judges sentenced only 38 military personnel for human rights violations.”
And corruption within the Mexican military is not a low-level problem, either. Last year, a Mexican Army general and three retired officers (two of them former generals) were arrested and accused of having ties to narco-traffickers. But Mexican generals being accused of links to narco-traffickers is nothing new. In the mid-1990s, Mexico’s drug czar, a former Army general, also was accused, and later convicted, of providing protection to the head of the Juarez Cartel.
Over the course of the Calderón administration, more than 16,000 Mexican soldiers were convicted of desertion — a figure that does not include the tens of thousands of additional soldiers who deserted, and were not caught, but by the mere act of deserting are now branded criminals. How do you think those individuals are now making a living?
And then we have the Zetas, a fierce organized crime group operating in Mexico that is highly skilled in paramilitary tactics — such as intelligence gathering, surveillance and marksmanship. The Zetas were started by former Mexican special-ops soldiers who were assisted by members of a Guatemalan special-forces unit, the Kaibiles, according to a DEA Powerpoint presentation obtained by Narco News previously.
The Guatemala Human Rights Commission has this to say about the Kaibiles:
While former members of Guatemala’s Elite Special Forces Unit (Kaibiles) are finally being sentenced for human rights atrocities committed during the 36-year internal armed conflict, Guatemala continues to train Kaibiles and their role is expanding to include combating organized crime.
Despite a congressional ban restricting direct funding to the Guatemalan army due to its involvement in brutal violence, the United States continues to support, train, and coordinate with the Kaibiles.
So it seems the path between US military training of Mexican security forces and their exploitation by organized crime in Mexico may not always be direct, but it certainly can’t be declared nonexistent either.
“My take is we made a huge investment of resources in Mexico to support Calderón’s [drug-war] policy that did not work and only increased the bloodshed, and put innocent people in the crossfire,” says Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the Washington Office on Latin America — an independent, nongovernmental group focused on shaping US policy to support human rights and social justice in Latin America. “[The Calderón administration] did not reform [Mexico’s] security services, but just put them into the street [to fight the drug war]. And we helped to supply the equipment [not measured in the Foreign Assistance Act figures] and training for that. Calderón should have had a different policy that took into account civilians more.”
The Laboratory
Although recently empowered Mexican President Peña Nieto is promising a new course in Mexico’s approach to the drug war, there are already signs that it won’t do much to change the underlying dynamics of the carnage in Mexico’s cities and rural communities.
On one front, the Peña Nieto administration plans to take a page out of the lessons learned from the US war in Vietnam by making an effort to reduce and control media coverage of drug-war violence and death. According to Mexican reports, he is urging the media to make an effort to find an “equilibrium” between bad and good news, and his administration also is tightly controlling the perp walks, information and data released about the drug war.
“What Peña Nieto is doing is … sweeping violence under the rug in hopes that no one notices,” security expert Jorge Chabat said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It can be effective in the short term, until the violence becomes so obvious that you can’t change the subject.”
Peña Nieto also plans to stand up a paramilitary force, composed of ex-soldiers, that could eventually be some 40,000 strong. Peña Nieto also hopes to created a single, consolidated national police force. With these tools, he says, the Mexican military can be replaced as the primary enforcer of security in the drug war in Mexico, and the battle can be refocused from hunting down the top narco-capos to stemming street violence and other crimes against the community, such as extortion and kidnappings.
But is this focus on street-level violence really anything new?
A trail of email correspondence involving a Mexican diplomat obtained by the secret-spilling organizationWikiLeaks seems to show that the Mexican military has been focused on “surgically” attacking street-level crime since at least 2009, when it made Ciduad Juarez, a Mexican border city that abuts El Paso, Texas, a laboratory for the strategy.
The description in the emails obtained by WikiLeaks of the Mexican diplomat, codenamed MX1, reveals that he doubled as a confidential source for a US-based private intelligence firm called Stratfor. The details revealed about MX1 via his email correspondence with Stratfor match the publicly available information on Fernando de la Mora Salcedo — a Mexican foreign service officer who studied law at the University of New Mexico, served in the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, Texas, and was later stationed in the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix (though, sources indicate, he appears to have since been recalled to Mexico).
MX1, in one of the emails released by WikiLeaks, describes the Mexican military’s mission in Juarez in 2009 (the very year Mexico’s homicide rate began to explode) as involving a special-operations and intelligence-unit component that was embedded within the larger Mexican military force. These special units were charged with carrying out “surgical strikes” against narco-trafficking “cells” and street criminals.
An even more troubling revelation in the MX1 email trail is what the Mexican diplomat describes in a July 13, 2009, email as a “change in strategy” in the Mexican troop deployment in Juarez — a change that refocused the mission on a more “modest goal.”
From a July 13, 2009, MX1 email correspondence:
The larger picture of the change in strategy has to do with a more modest goal. As the major cartels have all guaranteed routes into the US, the addiction problem [in] Juarez is causing most of the violence. About 80% of kidnapping victims that survived that you talk to mention that their captors seemed to be high on something.
Therefore, a major component of the [Mexican military] strategy will be to prevent kidnappings and the like by directing efforts against drug addicts and gangs. Gangs are presenting major problems because they are pissed off at each other and their cartel bosses because they are not getting what they were promised. The more modest goal of combating the social violence is supposed to give some breathing room to the [cartel] bosses so that they can issue orders to calm things down. [Emphasis added.]
Is the strategy outlined by MX1 really that much different from Peña Nieto’s plan to essentially back off pursuit of the leadership of the “major cartels” and instead attack street-level crime — with the help of former Mexican soldiers re-branded as a paramilitary force. If anything, utilizing paramilitaries, instead of the military, may open the door to even more deadly consequences for an even larger number of innocent citizens and purely political targets. Could that be why, in part, Peña Nieto’s administration is now so intent on controlling the media message about the drug war?
Time will tell.
But one thing is clear. US officials do not appear poised to slow down the provision of military training — special-operations, intelligence and infantry-readiness training, etc. — that is necessary for Peña Nieto to accomplish his drug-war objectives.
Peter Valasco, spokesman for the US State Department, stated the following in an email to Narco News:
When President Obama met with then President-elect Peña Nieto on November 27 [2012], the two leaders reiterated our shared commitment to working together to meet our common citizen security and rule of law challenges. The United States remains committed to working in partnership with Mexico, and the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, to address our shared security challenges. 
We commend the government and people of Mexico for their courage and commitment to combat criminals and corruption while strengthening institutions. The government has taken major steps, including professionalizing its police forces; instituting anti-corruption initiatives; and establishing long-term judicial reforms. We are committed to working in partnership with Mexico and look forward to advancing common goals for both our nations in the coming years with the Peña Nieto administration.
The next experiment in the drug-war laboratory is set to unfold. And it seems Mexico’s civilian population still finds itself in the Petri dish.
Stay tuned….
To see the full reports on US military training made to Congress under the Foreign Assistance Act, click on these links:
This article was originally posted at News Now

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Twenty-four dead in Mexican prison riot

By Rafael Azul 
22 December 2012
Last Tuesday, 15 prison inmates and nine guards where killed at the Center for Social Reintegration II prison in the city of Gómez Palacio (CERESO II—Gómez Palacio) in the northern state of Durango, Mexico. Six others were injured.
The killings took place in a shootout between prison guards and armed prisoners, who were aiding some of their fellow inmates to escape through a tunnel. At the time of the confrontation, the prison held 720 inmates. According to Durango State Attorney Sonia de la Garza, inmates are able to obtain weapons that they stash or bury inside the penal facility. Federal troops that were rushed to the CERESO facility were able to prevent anyone from escaping.
It is not yet clear who fired first. Durango authorities blame the inmates for firing first, saying that prison guards initially fired shots in the air to disperse the prisoners. According to the online journal Patria Grande, it was the guards who peppered the prisoners from the guard towers, eliciting a response from the prison inmates.
The day before, federal police had inspected the prison areas common to all the prisoners and found mobile phones, homemade weapons and other objects. As a result, 137 prisoners were transferred out of the facility.
Once in control, prison authorities transferred the inmates to other prisons in the state and announced the next day that the CERESO prison would be shut down permanently. Durango authorities have begun an investigation into the involvement of drug gangs in the escape attempt. Since 2009, over 100 inmates have been killed, supposedly while attempting to escape from the prison.
There are reports that prisoners were brutally beaten and tortured following the escape attempt. News of the armed confrontation and transfers gave way to protests outside CERESO II by family members demanding to know the identities of the dead prisoners and the names and destinations of those prisoners that were transferred.
A report from the Madrid daily El País describes the area surrounding the prison as one of the most violent in México. This was the second confrontation between prisoners and guards in less than 14 months. In November 2011, 11 inmates were killed by imprisoned members of a rival criminal gang as they arrived at the prison. According to the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), a government agency, 352 inmates have been murdered inside Mexican prisons since 2010. Since President Peña Nieto was sworn in on December 1 there have been 57 murders in the region.
Relative to before former president Felipe Calderón launched his war on the drug cartels in 2006, escape attempts have become common in México. Since 2010, 521 prisoners have escaped in 14 attempts. The most recent escape took place on September 13 when 131 prisoners escaped from the Piedras Negras prison, in the state of Coahuila, near the US Mexico border. Sixteen Piedras Negras guards have been detained under suspicion of being involved in the escape.
Mexican prisons are notoriously violent, overcrowded and corrupt. The Gómez Palacio facility was no exception. In the summer of 2010 it was discovered that prison authorities were complicit in providing arms to prisoners associated with the Zeta cartel and in allowing them to enter and exit the prison freely to assassinate their enemies.
Mexico’s 419 state and federal prisons, which according to the government ministry were originally built to house 188,000 inmates, now have a prison population of 237,000, double that of 15 years ago, largely as a consequence of the war on the drug cartels. Official statistics of an overcrowding rate of 26 percent are hard to accept, given anecdotal evidence of extreme overcrowding in many prisons. Some Mexico City prisons are so overcrowded that prisoners sleep on the floor or hang hammocks that they made out of sheets. Prisoners are rarely provided with cots or bedding, and are forced to rely on family members. Prison-provided food is insufficient and of poor quality.
Inmates with no family support survive either through an informal network of “prison industries”—fabricating footballs, for instance, that are sold outside prison walls and for which they receive small amounts of money—or in less legal activities, such as the drug trade.
These conditions do not apply to wealthy inmates who live in relative luxury, in single cells, with air conditioning and other comforts.
Last September CNDH released a report that indicated 60 percent of Mexican jails are controlled by organized crime rings. The report was the outcome of an investigation of 100 state prisons across the country.
“No one can deny the deterioration that has take place, as shown by escapes, fights, prison self-government and attacks on prison employees,” declared CNDH President Raúl Plascencia. The report also documents the existence of prostitution rings, protection rackets, and weapons and drug sales inside the prison system.
The deterioration of Mexican prisons itself mirrors the deterioration and decay of society outside prison walls, a product of the collapse of living conditions, rising malnutrition, illiteracy, and a widening gap between the rich and the poor.
The war between the government and the criminal cartels involved in drugs, kidnappings, and human trafficking has resulted in the deaths of some 60,000 people, a conservative estimate.

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Peña Nieto moves toward privatization of Mexican oil

By Rafael Azul 
18 December 2012
No sooner had Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), won the presidential election in July, he began to implement a conservative, pro-business agenda, first with his support for labor reform legislation and second by laying out an energy policy. The lynchpin of that energy policy is the privatization of Pemex.
In a visit to Brazil in September, Peña Nieto indicated that he favored the so-called Petrobras model. Petrobras is the Brazilian national oil company.
Starting in 1997, Petrobras was transformed from a fully national oil company, to an investor-owned company in which the state owns 60 percent of the shares.
At a press conference following a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Peña Nieto declared that the Petrobras “model inspires what we want to do in Mexico.” The Mexican president attributes Petrobras’ supposed efficiency to the entry of private capital. Turning to Pemex, he said that an influx of private capital would leverage investments and job growth in Mexico.
A few weeks later in Germany, Peña Nieto again announced his intention to present before the legislature an energy reform law, declaring that his models for Pemex were Petrobras and the Colombian Ecopetrol. “To cling to old resistances is to postpone benefits for Mexicans,” declared the newly elected president.
As with Pemex, Petrobras was subjected to a campaign to discredit it in the eyes of the public. As with Pemex it was starved of necessary funds to modernize.
The Brazilian company’s privatization resulted in the loss of some 30,000 jobs. The world market sets domestic oil and fuel prices, while the profits of private investors are taxed at a relatively low rate, by international standards.
The reference to Ecopetrol is even more ominous. The privatization of that company in 2003 was accompanied by savage attacks, kidnappings and murders of oil workers by right-wing paramilitary death squads. According to conservative estimates, some 200 workers have been killed at the hands of death squads since 2003. At least 400 others have been expelled, with their families, from their homes and towns. In May 2004, the Colombian government of former president Alvaro Uribe responded to a strike by 3,800 oil workers protesting savage repression in the oil center of Barrancabermeja by militarizing the region, terrorizing thousands of workers and their families and expelling militants from the oil fields and refineries.
The main beneficiaries from Ecopetrol’s privatization have been Chevron Texaco (US), BP-Amoco (UK), and Schlumberger (Austria).
The privatization of Pemex will inevitably spark strong opposition in Mexico, and President Peña Nieto is no stranger to repression. Mexican students and youth who protested his inauguration in Mexico City and Guadalajara on December 1 experienced this first hand; protesters were singled out, dragged and beaten.
As a governor of the state of Mexico he ordered the 2006 attack on the community of San Salvador Atenco, which resulted in two deaths, 100 wounded and sexual assault against two women, followed by draconian prison sentences against leaders of the community. During his campaign, organized PRI goons attacked protesting youth at campaign events. Pemex es de los mexicanos, the slogan that Pemex belongs to all Mexicans, while never fully a reality, continues to be a source of nationalist pride for Mexicans. It is the one state-owned company that was not privatized in the 1980s.
Since then, a backdoor form of privatization has proceeded in stages through outsourcing. According to Petroleum Industry Classified Workers Union (Unión de Trabajadores de Confianza ) spokesperson Alfredo Hernandez Peñalosa, Pemex now contracts out over 60 percent of well drilling, maintenance and repair to privately owned foreign companies. Subcontracting accounts for 70 percent of the monies that Pemex budgets for such purposes.
This policy has displaced thousands of skilled and technical workers. Those who do find work end up as low wage contract workers with little or no job security. In tandem with this outsourcing, Pemex has also dismantled much of its petrochemical infrastructure. The closure of a petrochemical plant in Camargo, Chihuahua State, will soon result in the destruction of 5000 jobs.
The company was born in the oil industry nationalization of 1938, a response by the bourgeois nationalist government of President Lazaro Cardenas to the massive labor rebellion in the Shell and Standard Oil facilities. The strikes and occupations over wages and the length of the working day lasted seven months.
Pemex’s original mission was that of insuring domestic oil needs and promoting national (i.e., bourgeois) interests.
Currently, Pemex is the largest Mexican company, public or private. It generated over $124 billion in revenues last year from crude oil and refined products. High revenues do not translate into profits; it lost about $9 billion in the second quarter of 2012.
It has now become an oil monopoly tied to the global energy market and committed, in the name of efficiency, to the profit interests of its bond holders—finance capital, the privately owned banks and financial institutions that own its debt—and private contractors. Pemex is also closely allied to Repsol, the Spanish oil company, with whom earlier this year it announced a 10-year partnership that includes ownership by the Mexican firm of Repsol shares.
Private sector economists blame Pemex’s low profitability on shady contracts with suppliers of oil drilling and other equipment, on payoffs to the oil workers union to suppress worker discontent, on a fall in the value of Repsol stock, and on excessive government taxes—over one third of the federal government’s income comes from company revenues.
Peña Nieto and the Mexican ruling class promote the notion that Pemex’s difficulties are the results of the intrinsic inefficiency of being a state-owned corporation and to the high wages, benefits and pensions that the company gives its workers. All this will be solved, they insist, by the injection of private capital.
Parallel to the process of privatization is the gradual elimination of fuel subsidies for domestic consumers, who will soon be forced to buy fuel at the world market price.
The incorporation of Pemex into a publicly traded company is a way of handing it over to private companies; it is immaterial that the government plans to own a large chunk of its shares, or even a majority.
In anticipation of the changes, both Exxon Mobil and BP have established closer ties with Pemex.
A recent article in the Financial Times quotes Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, who said in June that this oil giant was carrying out joint studies with the Mexican firm “so we can get to know each other.” But he added: “It’s going to be a long process … And if the next step provides an avenue for Exxon Mobil to participate, we will.”
BP has offered to share with Pemex the oil capping technology that it derived from its experience in the Gulf of Mexico, at “no cost” to the Mexicans, as a way of creating a working relationship with Pemex.

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Thousands protest as new Mexican president takes office

By Rafael Azul 
3 December 2012
On Saturday, as newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto began his first day in office, thousands of workers and youth demonstrated in Mexico City and other cities across the country against the right-wing, anti-working class agenda of the new administration.
The police and military responded to the protests with mass arrests and beatings. In Mexico City at least 35 protesters were injured, and one remains in critical condition.
The transfer of power to Peña Nieto and his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), took place under tight security. Hidden from the press and the public, Mexico’s new president was officially sworn in a few minutes before midnight on Friday. He was protected by police, military forces and a network of barricades that blocked public access.
The PRI returns to power after 12 years of National Action Party (PAN) rule. The day before Peña Nieto’s swearing in, the main political parties—the PRI, the PAN and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)—agreed to collaborate in imposing a series of free market educational, financial and energy “reforms.” Peña Nieto and the leaders of the three parties formally signed what is being called the “Pact for Mexico” on Sunday.
In a show of anger, thousands of teachers, workers, peasants and students marched across Mexico, from Chiapas in the South to Baja California and Chihuahua in the north. In the city of Tuxla Gutierrez, capital of ChiapasState, thousands of teachers and their supporters marched into the city, calling for a national strike. The National Committee of Education Workers (CNTE) led the demonstration.
In Mexico City itself, a chaotic situation developed early Saturday morning when a group of young people tried to break through the police barriers blocking access to the legislature. The protest was led by the YoSoy#132 movement, which takes its name from the students at Iberoamericana University who expelled Peña Nieto from their campus during the presidential campaign. Those students were protesting the PRI candidate’s role in the brutal police repression of the working class community of San Salvador de Atenco in May 2006, in which two workers were killed and many women violated by the state security forces.
The confrontation between students and security forces in the Mexican capital on Saturday took place in close vicinity to a protest by 3,000 CNTE teachers.
The teachers, from the State of Oaxaca, refused to be drawn in by what many saw as a police provocation. A spokesperson for the Oaxaca teachers later declared that Peña Nieto already in his first hours in office stood condemned by the acts of repression against student protesters at San Lázaro and elsewhere in the city.
At the statue of the Angel of Independence in Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma Boulevard, police and military personnel blocked supporters of Andrés López Obrador from joining a rally opposing Peña Nieto. López Obrador and his National Reconstruction Movement (MORENA) have refused to recognize the PRI victory, accusing the Peña Nieto campaign of buying votes and of violating Mexican campaign laws.
In the industrial city of Guadalajara, hundreds of young people, many of them students from public and private universities, protested against Peña Nieto. The police attacked them as they approached the site of the International Book Fair. Over 20 students were dragged off and arrested. Eyewitnesses reported that students were beaten up inside police cars. A woman was beaten and injured by a tear gas canister.
In Oaxaca, hundreds of students chanting, “We want schools, not soap operas,” marched into the city. They linked up with a separate contingent of student teachers from across the state at Oaxaca’s central square.
Education workers participated in protests in the border city of Tijuana. Demonstrations also took place in Puebla, Guanajuato, León and the mining and industrial cities of Hermosillo and Zacatecas.
An extraordinary sequence of political events occurred in the run-up to the “Pact for Mexico” agreed upon last Thursday. On November 14, Mexican legislators approved a reactionary labor reform law, overwhelmingly opposed by Mexican workers.
On November 19, thousands of teachers marched in Tlaxcala, capital of Tlaxcala State in central Mexico, to protest the new labor law. The protests also denounced the program of “universal evaluation” and tests for teaching jobs. It is not unusual for Tlaxcala teachers to work for years without a permanent post.
On November 22, the conservative Mexican Institute for Competition (IMCO) warned that Mexico faced a “catastrophe similar to Spain’s” within the next five years, pointing out that that many of Mexico’s 31 states were deeply in debt. The report singled out public pensions for cuts and demanded a bailout of the banks holding state debt alongside a program of austerity for the working class.
The “Pact for Mexico” agreed by the major parties last Thursday followed the agenda outlined by IMCO. The PRI’s national president, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, confirmed that the initiative for the agreement had come from Peña Nieto himself. “This is not a conjunctural pact,” declared Coldwell. “It is for the long term, to insure the governability of the country.”
The pact signifies that every faction of the Mexican ruling class has lined up in a common attack on the working class, the peasantry and the poor.
Despite divisions over the agreement within the PRD, on Saturday PRD President Jesús Zambrano declared that the “deal is on.” Zambrano defended the need for a government based on the agreement and promised that the PRD would be a “loyal opposition” to Peña Nieto.
Legislative supporters of the labor law claim that it merely codifies the existing state of affairs. In truth, in the space of little more than a generation Mexican workers have been stripped of rights and protections they struggled to establish over the previous 65 years.
Mass layoffs, the abolition of contractual rights and the elimination of benefits have been enforced with brutal repression, resulting in the arrest, injury and death of strikers, demonstrators and militant workers. Collaborating in this process have been Mexico’s corporatist trade unions. Time and time again the union apparatus has been used to ensure maximum capitalist exploitation and minimum working class resistance.
With trade union assistance, companies were shut down to destroy jobs and living standards, only to reopen with casual and part-time labor. Thousands of national labor contracts have been replaced with agreements known as protection contracts (contratos de protección), hidden from the workers, who in many cases are not aware that they are nominally represented by a union. The trade unions also lend themselves to the firing of militant workers who dare to question this state of affairs.
Trade union organizations such as the Congress of Labor (CT), which includes the Federation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and the militant-sounding Revolutionary Federation of Workers and Peasants (CROC), conspire with Mexican and global capitalist firms and financial institutions. Captive in these organizations are some 25 million workers.
Peña Nieto is publicly committed to further market-based “reforms.” High on his list is the opening up of the energy and mineral sectors to foreign firms, the privatization of education, the deregulation of the financial sector, and the inclusion of food and medicine under the highly regressive Value Added Tax (VAT).
Outgoing president Felipe Calderón claimed that in the context of the world economic crisis, the Mexican economy managed to avoid losing ground. Calderón’s claims are contradicted by a recent European Union report indicating that since 2006 the number of Mexicans in poverty has risen by 12.2 million people, from 45.5 to 57.7 million. The number of those living under conditions of malnutrition has increased by 6.5 million, from 14.7 to 21.2 million.
The EU document, presented to the European Parliament in September, also examined social inequality in Mexico. It ranked Mexico 120th in social inequality out of 160 countries, with the 160th country being the most unequal.
Mexico has gone backwards by every measure—in education (nearly 3 million children do not go to school), health care and nutrition. Fifteen million workers, 29 percent of the labor force (up from 26 percent in 2006), subsist under some form of disguised unemployment. Five percent are officially unemployed, up from 3.5 percent in 2006. All this is in the midst of a brutal war on criminal gangs that has resulted in the death of more than 80,000 people in the last six years.
In a meeting at the White House last week with his Mexican counterpart, President Obama endorsed Peña Nieto’s free market program, calling it an “ambitious reform agenda.”

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Amid mass protests, Mexican deputies approve labor counter-reform

By Rafael Azul 
3 October 2012
Thousands of workers and students have marched in Mexico City and other cities since September 21, denouncing a new law that, if passed, will degrade wages and working conditions for the mass of workers. On Sunday, Mexico City demonstrators called for a national strike in repudiation of the labor reform.
The demonstrators have also condemned the corporatist trade unions, which have thrown their support behind this measure, because it protects the bureaucracy’s interests and income.
This is the most controversial piece of legislation in President Felipe Calderón’s six-year mandate. President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party)has promised to make labor reform and the reform of the energy sector the keystones of his own administration.
On September 29, the federal House of Deputies approved the new labor law—a product of negotiations between the ruling PAN (National Action Party), the PRI and the unions. This measure virtually completes the dismantling of historical rights conquered by the working class in bitter struggles.
The debate and vote that began on Friday had been repeatedly delayed as demonstrators and PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) lawmakers attempted to take over the podium of the Chamber of Deputies. The Mexican Senate now has one month to discuss and vote on the reform law.
The mammoth measure excised from existing labor legislation 42 provisions that protect workers and replaced them with 135 clauses that protect transnational corporations and Mexican big business. PAN officials insist that the existing provisions are “unsustainable” given global realities. In a typical remark, PAN deputy Juan Bueno Toro said that the legislation would benefit young workers, by eliminating the abuses of the underground economy.
Making the dubious claim that more workers could be hired if it were easier to fire them, the Calderón administration has tried to convince Mexicans that this reactionary law will scale back the underground economy, the so-called informal sector, and create new jobs.
Behind closed doors, both Calderón and Peña Nieto, like President Barack Obama in the United States and their counterparts across the world, are committed to the defense of capitalist profits by abolishing the rights of the working class to decent jobs and living standards.
In accordance with the capitalist mantra of labor flexibility, the new law allows free rein for bosses to sack workers at will. Three new types of contracts are established: “on trial,” “in training” and “temporary.” The purpose of these contracts is to give employers greater leeway in hiring and firing. No severance pay will be required for these workers. The law also adds to the list of causes for which a worker may be fired.
In the case of agricultural workers, the law establishes new norms for migrant workers that grant agricultural businesses virtually total control over the conditions and terms of their labor, including the elimination of many health and safety rules. Nothing will stand in the way of the slave-like conditions that sparked numerous rebellions of the peasantry and plantation workers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
It will be no different for miners and oil workers, who are already forced to work alongside contract laborers. Wherever it appears, subcontracting—now ubiquitous across Latin America (where it is known as tercerización)—creates what amounts to legalized fraud. Under the guise of being self-employed, workers are denied pensions and other benefits. Youth are hired as interns, while employees are forced to hand in blank and signed letters of resignation.
Wages, salaries, and job descriptions are left entirely up to the employer, as are bonuses, commissions and other incentives. Job descriptions, days off, and working hours can be changed as required by the needs of the bosses. Those workers that resist, or reach the point of exhaustion, can be easily replaced at no cost to the mining, energy and industrial corporations.
The minimum daily wage of 59.80 pesos, a starvation wage, is to be partitioned into hourly amounts, 7.47 pesos an hour (about US$0.60). Existing disability rules and health and safety are weakened in favor of the bosses.
The original draft of the measure sought to impose greater transparency from Mexican unions. They would have been required to reveal their finances and the income of the bureaucracy to their members. The draft also called for greater internal democracy. These points were dropped when the PRI signaled that it would not support any changes to the “charro” system—the corporatist relationship between the unions, big business and the state.
Following the September 18 explosion at a Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) gas plant in Reynosa, in which 30 contract workers died and 40 more were injured, Oil Workers Union leader Carlos Romero Deschamps came out in defense of the oil company PEMEX and its safety record. “We have no reason to maximize an incident that does not merit exaggeration,” declared Deschamps.
A 2008 article in the Mexican journal Emeequis revealed that Deschamps receives US$3,000 per hour for his services to PEMEX and to the Mexican State. Deschamps, who was appointed to his post by President Salinas nearly two decades ago, is typical of the corporatist labor relations.
The Oil Workers Union supports the new law, as does the CTM, the Federation of Mexican Unions, whose leaders participated in the negotiations “to a create a new culture of labor,” with the PRI and PAN, that led to this piece of reactionary legislation.
On the other hand, verbal denunciations of this law by left bourgeois parties, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Party of Labor (PT), as well as those of the pseudo-left and of the YoSoy#132 indignados, including the theatrics of taking over the podium of the Chamber of Deputies, are consciously designed to divert workers from the practical revolutionary consequences of this new law and into innocuous protests.
What is required is the mass mobilization of the Mexican and North American working classes in a political struggle to end this bankrupt social system and replace it with a system that puts human needs ahead of corporate profits. Despite their protestations, the left parties have been complicit for many years in the sweatshops of Northern Mexico.
It has been 48 years since the first maquiladora assembly plants were established along the US-Mexico border—opening the door to the globalized economy. In the intervening 48 years, the Mexican state has guaranteed sweatshop labor to transnational capital at a fraction of the wages of US workers. Safety conditions and job security rules exist at the bosses’ discretion, as does the eight-hour day. Labor discipline is enforced by the trade unions. A permanent work force of super-exploited workers toils under conditions and with wages that are only marginally higher than those in South Asia and China.
If approved by the Senate, this labor reform promises to extend the maquilasystem to all of Mexico.

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USA and Mexico: Best democracies money can buy

By Saul Landau and Nelson Valdes
“Do you really want to live in a country where one party is so desperate to win the White House that they go around trying to make it harder for people to vote if they’re people of color, poor people or first generation immigrants?” – Bill Clinton on Republican voter-ID laws
Some friends look nostalgically at U.S. history as if our current situation means that a once-great and deeply principled America has eroded and collapsed.
Is this the America founded on slavery? The Constitution, which tried to mute every aspect of direct democracy?
The Tea Party rhetoric claims to represent the values of the Founding Fathers, who did not believe in democracy, religion, or free market nonsense. Democracy, to the wealthy elite then and now, meant that the property-less masses (the poor) would some day rule – if they learned to use the vote. To the oligarchs the majority are inferior people unfit to make decisions for the educated and financially well endowed. For the 1%, billionaires and their families, the idea of poorer people making decisions impacting on their wealth resonates sourly, or as they call it “class war.”
The oligarchs decided, long ago, that they were to permanently rule. The most recent development gained the Supreme Court’s help (Citizens United) so that the super-rich could “own” the 2012 election. The reactionary high court opened the door for super corporate donations to political campaigns. Compare gambling casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s pledge of $100 million to the modest amount a working person could afford to contribute.
Republicans have also tried to limit participation in voting by numerous means, including pushing so-called Voter ID laws that would demand photo identification of all voters. The less the masses vote, the better for the oligarchs. In Ohio, the GOP controls both houses of the Legislature, the governorship, the secretary of state’s office, and the state Supreme Court. Soon after the 2008 election, it imposed a draconian photo ID law designed to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of suspected Democrats, as is being done in other states around the U.S. Since 2009, the Ohio GOP has purged roughly a million citizens from the state’s voter rolls. This accounts for some 15% of the roughly 5.2 million votes counted for president in the state in 2008. The purge focuses on counties that are predominantly urban and Democratic. In addition, electronic voting machines have been installed throughout the state, which are owned, operated, programmed and maintained – and will be tallied – by Republican-connected firms.
Ironically, Mexico’s wealthy elite may have begun to copy us. Or did our billionaires take lessons from their Mexican counterparts? A transnational army of election entrepreneurs has emerged that hires itself to the highest bidder on both sides of the border.
Before this year’s July election, the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (PRI) that governed Mexico for half a century until 2000 bought pre-paid gift cards and phone money cards for shoppers at a Mexican grocery store chain in return for their votes for PRI candidate Peña Nieto. A Congressional Research Service report issued on September 4, 2012, acknowledged that some independent domestic observation groups “found that vote-buying, intimidation, and other irregularities marred the electoral process.” (Clare Ribando Seelke, Mexico’s 2012 Elections, Congressional Research Service, September 4, 2012, p. 9)
Associated Press and British Guardian reporters interviewed shoppers who crowded one Soriana grocery store two days after the elections to redeem the cards. The shoppers told the journalists that PRI officials had given them the food or telephone money-cards, in return for their votes for PRI’s candidate.
On July 4th, the Guardian reported that at least 28% of the voters interviewed acknowledged that they encountered vote buying as well as coercive tactics on behalf of PRI candidates. President Obama nevertheless immediately called the PRI presidential candidate to congratulate him and praise the democratic process of the country and its institutions.”
PRI, like the U.S. Republican Party, bought the cooperation of the TV giants, Televisa and Tv Azteca, and launched a massive propaganda campaign. On the print stage, PRI backers invested heavily in Excelsior, El Universal, and El Sol de Mexico newspapers and got favorable stories. In Laredo, for example, the program “Buen dia Laredo” reported positively on PRI and/or PAN and always negatively on the PRD candidate, or simply did not mention him or his campaign. 
This barrage included stories of bogus opinion polls declaring PRI the clear favorite by just making the numbers up. Several PRI governors even used the budget from their respective state governments to finance the PRI campaign, not exactly a legal procedure. That was the case of the state of Mexico whose governor was also the PRI presidential candidate.
Mexico’s so-called independent Instituto Federal Electoral and Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial set up to monitor elections and ensure fairness did nothing to stop the electoral fraud, or show that votes for PRD did not get counted, or that PAN and PRI votes got over counted. Instead of recognizing obvious illegalities, these institutions neither looked at the evidence nor sought it, and refused to even consider any of the charges. The Tribunal was even mandated to study, analyze and investigate the charges submitted, but the judges certified the election as legal and proper.
The Mexican Tribunal Electoral denied the petition filed by PRD candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador who demanded a reversal of the election results and called for a new election. But the presiding electoral judge announced that “there is no proof of vote-buying.” The judges did not interview any card recipients and ignored video evidence lending credibility to these claims.
The Mexican high court asserted there was no proof of electoral crime. Yet, the PRD and a citizens’ movement had delivered to the judges a 638-page document with thousands of examples of illegal activities affecting the election. The judges didn’t open the document but nevertheless declared: “It has not been demonstrated that they (the cards) were given to citizens, or if that occurred, that it was done on condition they vote for a given candidate.” The presiding judge later modified the remarks, saying that the people who received the free food cards were already committed PRI voters and workers anyway.
Eduardo Huchim of Alianza Civica, a UN funded organization, described the 2012 election as “neither clean nor fair.” This was not Mexico’s first election theft. The great Mexican revolution in 1910 began under the banner of “effective suffrage, no reelections.” Yet, electoral thefts continued in 1939, 1987 and 2006. Viva la democracia.
Mexico’s elite still attempts to hide its political hands because their Supreme Court has not yet informed their people that corporate wealth is a form of freedom of expression as Citizens United did for the American public.
So there is plenty of proof that U.S. and Mexican super elites have modernized election theft. The old days of stuffed ballot boxes and dead people voting now appear as primitive larceny techniques.
The piety of both elites about how they cherish democracy has become downright offensive.
Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens in Portland Oregon’s Clinton Theater, Sept. 13. Nelson Valdes is professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.
This article was originally posted at progreso-weekly
© 2012

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Police shootings raise questions over CIA role in Mexico

By Rafael Azul 
5 September 2012
On August 24, Mexican police shot two US intelligence officers under mysterious circumstances. Initially reported to be Drug Enforcement Administration agents (DEA) officials, they turned out to be CIA agents working with the Mexican Navy.
US and Mexican authorities subsequently gave several failed explanations that only raised more questions.
The shooting took place near Tres Marías on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway. The two CIA men were in an armored US embassy sports utility vehicle, with a Mexican naval officer in the back, who was not hurt. The embassy car was reportedly nearly driven off the road and then chased by four vehicles.
Twelve Federal Police officers were arrested for their role in the shooting. According to the Public Security Ministry (PSS), they “are testifying to authorities to determine what happened and who is responsible.”
Five days later, Mexican newspapers cited Mexican officials claiming that the wounded men were CIA operatives participating in an anti-drug task force. The daily El Universal followed up with the news that, according to a confidential official report, the CIA men were involved with instruction at a firing range at a secret naval facility.
Mexican officials’ initial story suggested that the shooting arose from “confusion” between federal police and the embassy vehicle. US authorities gave a different version, however, calling the shooting an ambush.
On Sunday, September 2, Miami’s Nuevo Herald released a third version, that the federal police were in the area investigating a kidnapping and presumably thought that they were chasing the kidnappers.
These shifting stories are aimed at obscuring the growing role of the US military, intelligence and police agencies in Mexico under the cover of an endless “war on drugs” in which the Mexican ruling class acts as a full accomplice.
The US State Department refused to disclose the real names of the wounded men and would only confirm that they were government employees carrying out “law enforcement cooperation.” The men were whisked away two days later without speaking to anyone.
It is now known that both had arrived from Afghanistan ten days earlier with tourist visas using the false names of Stan Dove Boss and Philip P. Quincannon. These CIA men had entered Mexico in at least one other occasion, also with tourist visas.
What is more, it now appears that the federal police was not permitted to question the 12 arrested police officers while US embassy officials were allowed to participate in their interrogation, in violation of Mexican law.
Yet another mystery that has yet to be explained is what the Mexican naval officer was doing riding with the Americans.
This is not the first time that US intelligence agents surface in Mexico; in fact, the entire Mexican political establishment is well aware of the CIA’s presence and semi-official role in the country.
President Calderón’s assurances that an investigation would be launched have little value. Congressional leaders and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) members also called for an investigation. “We will ask for a hearing with the public security minister, the foreign minister and the navy to find out what CIA agents are doing in Mexico and why they are fighting each other,” PRD senator Mario Delgo told MVS radio.
Also weighing in on the affair was PRD leader and Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard and 2012 PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. The PRD’s position on this is self-serving, consistent with its role as a “left” critic of the government and a safety valve for popular anger. According to Lopez Obrador, the Mexican military, commanders and soldiers alike, are unified in their hostility to the “war on drugs.”
This is part of the myth that the armed forces are the “people in uniform,” used by the PRD and Mexican pseudo-left groups like the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) to create false confidence in the armed forces. Lopez Obrador has even raised the possibility that a coup could set right the fraudulent results of the 2012 presidential ballot.
La Jornada, a daily that supports Lopez Obrador, criticizes Calderón for discrediting the military. In a September 2 editorial, it condemns Calderón for insisting on involving the national military in his “crusade”—i.e., the drug war. “This ruined the armed forces’ image among the people,” it wrote.
The CIA-military relationship does not preclude difficulties and tensions. Diplomatic cables, released by Wikileaks from the former US ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, reveal contempt towards the Mexican security apparatus and for the military, which Pascual described as ‘slow,’ ‘poorly trained,’ and ‘risk averse.’ Pascual himself was forced to resign his post because of these dispatches.
For that reason, some in the Mexican press speculate that navy officers intended the shooting as “payback,” to embarrass the Calderón administration and its American handlers.
The shooting took place amid a transfer of power from Felipe Calderón (National Action Party, PAN) to Enrique Peña Nieto (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) and a continuing “war on drugs” that has claimed tens of thousands of Mexican victims.
Under the Mérida Initiative, the Calderón government has given free rein to US agencies—the CIA, DEA, FBI, and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). In Mexico they carry out activities that are banned inside the US itself, including money laundering and giving US weapons to drug cartels like the Sinaloa syndicate. Mexico’s skies are wide-open to US drone flights.
Between 2007 and 2010, the Mérida Initiative channeled $1.6 billion into Mexico, for military equipment and training of security forces. Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been added for Mexico and Central America.
Neither the White House, nor the Calderón government wish to disclose the number of US agents in México, but it has reportedly soared since 2006, when Calderón took office. In 2011, the Associated Press identified hundreds of operatives from various security agencies.
According to the AP, there were so many State Department narcotics personnel that they exceeded their office space in two floors of the US Embassy in Mexico City and now share offices with their Mexican counterparts in a new building.
An unknown number, including the wounded men, are not registered with the government and enter and leave the country as their bosses see fit.
Mexican Laws that regulate the activities of foreign agents are often ignored. Egardo Buscaglia, a security expert and senior research scholar at Columbia University recently told the Agence France-Presse: “of course many of these operations are taking place, and of course they are bypassing the legal framework in doing so.”
He added: “the expansion of the US presence within Mexican soil is unprecedented… We are reaching levels—not in terms of soldiers but in terms of American intelligence—that are close to Afghanistan.”

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America’s Secret Deal with Mexican Drug Cartels

‘Managing’ the Plaza: 
By Tom Burghardt
September 04, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – In a story which should have made front page headlines, Narco News investigative journalist Bill Conroy revealed that:
A high-ranking Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization member’s claim that US officials have struck a deal with the leadership of the Mexican ‘cartel’ appears to be corroborated in large part by the statements of a Mexican diplomat in email correspondence made public recently by the nonprofit media group WikiLeaks.
A series of some five million emails, The Global Intelligence Files, were obtained by the secret-spilling organization as a result of last year’s hack by Anonymous of the Texas-based “global intelligence” firm Stratfor.
Bad tradecraft aside, the Stratfor dump offers readers insight into a shadowy world where information is sold to the highest bidder through a “a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.”
One of those informants was a Mexican intelligence officer with the Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional, or CISEN, Mexico’s equivalent to the CIA. Dubbed “MX1″ by Stratfor, he operates under diplomatic cover at the Mexican consulate in Phoenix, Arizona after a similar posting at the consulate in El Paso, Texas.
His cover was blown by the intelligence grifters when they identified him in their correspondence as Fernando de la Mora, described by Stratfor as “being molded to be the Mexican ‘tip of the spear’ in the U.S.”
In an earlier Narco News story, Conroy revealed that “US soldiers are operating inside Mexico as part of the drug war and the Mexican government provided critical intelligence to US agents in the now-discredited Fast and Furious gun-running operation,” the Mexican diplomat claimed in email correspondence.
Those emails disclosed “details of a secret meeting between US and Mexican officials held in 2010 at Fort Bliss, a US Army installation located near El Paso, Texas. The meeting was part of an effort to create better communications between US undercover operatives in Mexico and the Mexican federal police, the Mexican diplomat reveals.”
“However,” Conroy wrote, “the diplomat expresses concern that the Fort Bliss meeting was infiltrated by the ‘cartels,’ whom he contends have ‘penetrated both US and Mexican law enforcement’.”
Such misgivings are thoroughly justified given the fact, as Antifascist Calling reported last spring, that the Mexican government had arrested three high-ranking Army generals over their links to narcotrafficking organizations.
In Conroy’s latest piece the journalist disclosed that the “Mexican diplomat’s assessment of the US and Mexican strategy in the war on drugs, as revealed by the email trail, paints a picture of a ‘simulated war’ in which the Mexican and US governments are willing to show favor to a dominant narco-trafficking organization in order to minimize the violence and business disruption in the major drug plazas, or markets.”
A “simulated war”? Where have we heard that before? Like the bogus “War on Terror” which arms and unleashes throat-slitting terrorists from the CIA’s favorite all-purpose zombie army of “Islamist extremists,” Al Qaeda, similarly, America’s fraudulent “War on Drugs” has been a splendid means of managing the global drug trade in the interest of securing geopolitical advantage over their rivals.
That major financial powerhouses in Europe and the U.S. (can you say Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC, ING and Wachovia) have been accused of reaping the lions’ share of profits derived from the grim trade, now a veritable Narco-Industrial Complex, the public continues to be regaled with tales that this ersatz war is being “won.”
While the Mexican body count continues to rise (nearly 120,000 dead since 2006 according to the latest estimates published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, or INEGI, as reported by the Paris daily Le Monde in a recent editorial) the United States is escalating its not-so-covert military involvement in Mexico and putting proverbial boots on the ground as part of the $1.6 billion U.S.-financed Mérida Initiative.
But have such “initiatives” (in actuality, taxpayer-funded boondoggles for giant military contractors), turned the corner in the drug war? Not if estimates published by the United Nations are accurate.
According to the 2011 World Drug Report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
US authorities have estimated for the last couple of years that some 90% of the cocaine consumed in North America comes from Colombia, supplemented by some cocaine from Peru and limited amounts from the Plurinational State of Bolivia. For the year 2009, results of the US Cocaine Signature Program, based on an analysis of approximately 3,000 cocaine HCl samples, revealed that 95.5% originated in Colombia (down from 99% in 2002) and 1.7% in Peru; for the rest (2.8%), the origin could not be determined. The trafficking of cocaine into the United States is nowadays largely controlled by various Mexican drug cartels, while until the mid-1990s, large Colombian cartels dominated these operations.
Despite more than $8 billion lavished on programs such as Plan Colombia, and despite evidence that leading Colombian politicians, including former President Álvaro Uribe and his entourage, had documented links to major drug trafficking organizations that go back decades, the myth persists that pouring money into the drug war sinkhole will somehow turn the tide.
But drug seizures by U.S. agencies only partially tell the tale.
As UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov pointed out in the introduction to the agency’s 2011 report, Estimating Illicit Financial Flows Resulting from Drug Trafficking and Other Transnational Crimes, “all criminal proceeds are likely to have amounted to some 3.6 per cent of GDP (2.3-5.5 per cent) or around US$2.1 trillion in 2009.”
UNODC analysts disclosed that illicit money flows related to “transnational organized crime, represent the equivalent of some 1.5 percent of global GDP, 70 percent of which would have been available for laundering through the financial system. The largest income for transnational organized crime seems to come from illicit drugs, accounting for a fifth of all crime proceeds.”
“If only flows related to drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime activities were considered,” UNODC asserted, “related proceeds would have been equivalent to around US$650 billion per year in the first decade of the new millennium, equivalent to 1.5% of global GDP or US$870 billion in 2009 assuming that the proportions remained unchanged. The funds available for laundering through the financial system would have been equivalent to some 1% of global GDP or US$580 billion in 2009.”
“The results,” according to UNODC, “also suggest that the ‘interception rate’ for anti-money-laundering efforts at the global level remains low. Globally, it appears that much less than 1% (probably around 0.2%) of the proceeds of crime laundered via the financial system are seized and frozen.”
Commenting on the nexus between global drug mafias and our capitalist overlords, former UNODC director Antonio Maria Costa told The Observer in 2009, “that the proceeds of organised crime were ‘the only liquid investment capital’ available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.”
Would there be an incentive then, for U.S. officials to dismantle a global business that benefits their real constituents, the blood-sucking gangsters at the apex of the capitalist financial pyramid? Hardly.
Nor would there be any incentive for American drug warriors to target organizations that inflate the balance sheets of the big banks. Wouldn’t they be more likely then, given the enormous flows of illicit cash flooding the system, to negotiate an “arrangement” with the biggest players, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel run by fugitive billionaire Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán?
In fact, as Narco News disclosed last December, a “quid-pro-quo arrangement is precisely what indicted narco-trafficker Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, who is slated to stand trial in Chicago this fall, alleges was agreed to by the US government and the leaders of the Sinaloa ‘Cartel’–the dominant narco-trafficking organization in Mexico. The US government, however, denies that any such arrangement exists.”
Narco News reported that according to “Zambada Niebla, he and the rest of the Sinaloa leadership, through the US informant Loya Castro, negotiated an immunity deal with the US government in which they were guaranteed protection from prosecution in exchange for providing US law enforcers and intelligence agencies with information that could be used to compromise rival Mexican cartels and their operations.”
In court pleadings, Zambada Niebla’s attorneys argued that:
The United States government considered the arrangements with the Sinaloa Cartel an acceptable price to pay, because the principal objective was the destruction and dismantling of rival cartels by using the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel–without regard for the fact that tons of illicit drugs continued to be smuggled into Chicago and other parts of the United States and consumption continued virtually unabated.
Those assertions seem to be borne out by emails released by WikiLeaks. Conroy disclosed: “In a Stratfor email dated April 19, 2010, MX1 lays out the Mexican government’s negotiating, or ‘signaling,’ strategy with respect to the major narco-trafficking organizations as follows:
The Mexican strategy is not to negotiate directly.
In any event, “negotiations” would take place as follows:
Assuming a non-disputed plaza [a major drug market, such as Ciudad Juarez]:
• [If] they [a big narco-trafficking group] bring [in] some drugs, transport some drugs, [and] they are discrete, they don’t bother anyone, [then] no one gets hurt;
• [And the] government turns the other way.
• [If] they [the narco-traffickers] kill someone or do something violent, [then the] government responds by taking down [the] drug network or making arrests.
(Now, assuming a disputed plaza:)
• [A narco-trafficking] group comes [into a plaza], [then the] government waits to see how dominant cartel responds.
• If [the] dominant cartel fights them [the new narco-trafficking group], [then the] government takes them down.
• If [the] dominant cartel is allied [with the new group], no problem.
• If [a new] group comes in and start[s] committing violence, they get taken down: first by the government letting the dominant cartel do their thing, then [by] punishing both cartels.
“MX1,” Narco News revealed, “then goes on to describe what he interprets as the US strategy in negotiating with the major narco-trafficking players in Ciudad Juarez–a major Mexican narco-trafficking ‘plaza’ located across the border from El Paso, Texas:”
… This is how “negotiations” take place with cartels, through signals. There are no meetings, etc. …
So, the MX [Mexican] strategy is not to negotiate. However, I think the US [recently] sent a signal that could be construed as follows:
“To the VCF [the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the] VCF. Also note that CDJ [Juarez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either VCF gets in line or we will mess you up.”
I don’t know what the US strategy is, but I can tell you that if the message was understood by Sinaloa and VCF as I described above, the Mexican government would not be opposed at all.
In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner [the Sinaloa Cartel], and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis. If there was no strategy behind this, and it was simply a leaked report, then I will be interested to see how it plays out in the coming months.
Keep in mind that this “analysis” is from a senior CISEN officer describing U.S. “strategy” for managing, not putting a stop to the flood of narcotics crossing the border.
“In a separate Stratfor email dated April 15, 2010,” Conroy wrote, “MX1′s views on the US strategy with respect to the drug organizations in Juarez, essentially favoring the Sinaloa ‘Cartel,’ is referenced yet again:”
We believe that when the US made an announcement that was corroborated by several federal spokespersons simultaneously (that Sinaloa controlled CDJ [Juarez]), it was a message that the DEA wanted to send to Sinaloa. The message was that the US recognized Sinaloa’s dominance in the area [Juarez], although it was not absolute. It was meant to be read by the cartels as a sort of ultimatum: negotiate and put your house in order once and for all.
One dissenting analyst thinks that the message is the opposite, telling Sinaloa to take what it had and to leave what remains of VCF. Regardless, the reports are saying that the US message to the cartels was to negotiate and stop the violence. It says that the US has never before pronounced that a cartel controls a particular plaza, so it is an unusual event.
“Unusual” perhaps, but not surprising given the secret state’s documented history of close collaboration with major drug trafficking networks that serve as unofficial, though highly-effective instruments, for advancing U.S. imperial strategies.
In a recent piece published by Global Research, analyst Peter Dale Scott observed that America’s two “self-generating wars” on “terror” and “drugs” have “in effect become one.”
“By launching a War on Drugs in Colombia and Mexico,” Scott wrote, “America has contributed to a parastate of organized terror in Colombia (the so-called AUC, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and an even bloodier reign of terror in Mexico (with 50,000 killed in the last six years).”
And by “launching a War on Terror in Afghanistan in 2001, America has contributed to a doubling of opium production there, making Afghanistan now the source of 90 percent of the world’s heroin and most of the world’s hashish.”
“Americans should be aware of the overall pattern that drug production repeatedly rises where America intervenes militarily–Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 60s, Colombia and Afghanistan since then,” Scott noted. “(Opium cultivation also increased in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion.) And the opposite is also true: where America ceases to intervene militarily, notably in Southeast Asia since the 1970s, drug production declines.”
“Both of America’s self-generating wars are lucrative to the private interests that lobby for their continuance,” Scott averred. “At the same time, both of these self-generating wars contribute to increasing insecurity and destabilization in America and in the world.”
In this light, Narco News revelations make perfect sense. As the global financial crisis deepens, brought on in no small part by the massive frauds perpetrated by leading capitalist institutions, they have inflated their balance sheets with a veritable tsunami of hot cash generated by the Narco-Industrial Complex.
In turn, the American secret state, working to recapitalize financial markets beset by a seemingly insolvable liquidity crisis resulting from massive bank frauds, turn a blind eye as these same institutions become major centers of organized crime, monopoly enterprises which could not survive without the trillions of dollars of illicit funds parked in offshore accounts.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Mexican nudge for HSBC

By Avi Jorisch 

The US$28 million fine by Mexican regulators of HSBC’s Mexico subsidiary announced on Wednesday is just the latest, but may not be the last, blow to hit the London-based bank for its failure to counter money laundering. Mexico’s National Securities and Banking Commission said the fine, about half the subsidiary’s 2011 profits, had been paid. 
HSBC’s failure to act adequately in various countries, but particularly Mexico, to counter money laundering through its network was at the heart of a recent US investigation of the bank that could lead it to being fined up to $1 billion by US authorities. 
Last week, HSBC issued an apology and its head of compliance resigned following disclosures by lawmakers in Washington that the bank had failed to implement anti-money-laundering procedures and had facilitated illicit Iranian transactions, terrorist activity, and drug proliferation around the world. 
Banking regulators and customers alike will be disappointed to learn that this global giant had become a “sinkhole of risk” that acted counter to the public interest and pursued financial gain above all. 
One of the world’s largest banks, HSBC has more than 7,200 offices and 300,000 employees throughout Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa. In 2011 alone, it garnered profit of nearly $22 billion. 
One of its most important affiliates is in the United States and operates under the name HSBC Bank USA (or HBUS). With 370 branches throughout the country, HBUS services 3.8 million customers and processes over 600,000 wire transfers a week, two-thirds of which are reportedly handled for HSBC affiliates around the world. Access to the US dollar is crucial to HSBC’s operation. 
US lawmakers this month issued a 335-page report (and 530-page addendum of evidence) giving excruciating detail about the bank’s failings, in addition to holding a day-long hearing that included US Treasury and Homeland Security Department officials and banking regulators. 
HSBC representatives were grilled, including the famed Stuart Levey, who for seven years served as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the US Treasury Department under presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama. He now serves as HSBC’s chief legal officer. 
During the hearing, in a dramatic announcement, David Bagely resigned as HSBC’s head of compliance following a 20-year career at the bank. “HSBC has fallen short of our own expectations and the expectations of our regulators,” Bagely said.
The Congressional report, along with the testimony of officials, reads like a pulp fiction novel. HSBC helped facilitate illicit transactions around the globe for the better part of the last decade, and its compliance culture has been “pervasively polluted for a long time,” according to Senator Carl Levin. 
In Mexico, the bank deposited billions of US dollars for Mexican drug cartels and the casas de cambio that acted as their agents, allowing them to launder massive amounts of cash that they smuggled across the US-Mexican border. 
HSBC Mexico took dollars, transported them back to the United States, and deposited them in HBUS, thus completing the laundering cycle for the cartels. In 2007 and 2008, HSBC Mexico shipped over $7 billion in physical US dollars to the United States, more than any other Mexican bank. 
HSBC allegedly acted as a major conduit to rogue regimes and provided Iran with access to the international financial sector. From 2001-2007, the bank reportedly facilitated approximately 25,000 transactions on Iran’s behalf, in amounts totaling $19.4 billion, through HSBC’s American affiliate (which does not include funds facilitated through other affiliates). 
In an attempt to circumvent US sanctions efforts, HSBC concealed any link to Iran for 85% of these transactions. 
Senior HSBC officials on both sides of the Atlantic claimed that they were not aware, but congress disclosed evidence, including emails, that demonstrates they were actually in the loop from a very early stage, and well understood the risk these transactions posed to the bank. Lawmakers also presented evidence that HSBC affiliates tried to circumvent US sanctions efforts against Sudan and North Korea. 
HSBC also provided a robust correspondent banking relationship to suspect banks around the globe. For example, it serviced Saudi Arabia’s Rajhi Bank, whose key founder was a generous donor to al-Qaeda. Rajhi, in turn, provided banking services to other suspect clients. 
Moreover, HSBC America offered banking services to bearer share corporations, which provide anonymity by assigning legal ownership to anyone who has physical possession of the company’s shares. This is a notorious method money launderers use to raise and move funds. Despite warnings from US banking regulators, HSBC opened accounts for 2,000 such corporations over the last decade. 
There are a number of steps HSBC should take immediately. It should start by identifying which affiliates are located in high-risk jurisdictions and implement a robust anti-money laundering compliance program across the board. Safeguards should be put in place to ensure that none of the HSBC banks are doing business with terrorists, weapons proliferators, money launderers, or other illicit actors. In addition, HSBC should not facilitate transactions for, or do business with, the roughly 250 banks the Treasury Department has blacklisted for facilitating nefarious activity. 
Other steps the bank should take include closing down bearer share accounts. It might also wish to better share information, both within the HSBC affiliate structure and with relevant government officials worldwide. This would go a long way toward ensuring it is doing its part to curb abuse of the international financial sector. In today’s interconnected financial world, such measures are part of the cost of doing business. 
HSBC must revamp its compliance regime across the board or face the consequences from global banking regulators, which should include losing its license to operate if it fails to carry out its obligations. Global financial institutions must use every tool in their arsenal to curb the efforts of those who exploit tainted money. HSBC is no exception. 
Avi Jorisch, a former US Treasury Department official, is a Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. 
(Copyright 2012 Avi Jorisch.)

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Mexican officials to recount votes in last week’s election

By Rafael Azul 
7 July 2012
The controversy over the vote count coming out of Sunday’s elections in Mexico reflects a crisis of leadership in the Mexican ruling class. The “left” faction of the capitalist class has yet to accept the vote count. Its political organ, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is claiming massive vote rigging jointly carried out by the Institutionalist Revolutionary Party (PRI).
In reality, this seemingly bitter argument over votes is the contradictory appearance of horse-trading now taking place behind the scenes within the Mexican establishment and between it and the US Embassy in Mexico City.
The official vote count is surrounded by controversy. On Wednesday the Federal Elections Commission (IFE) released a detailed count of 54 percent of voting locations that gave Enrique Peña Nieto a 38.15 percent plurality over Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD, who got 31.64 percent. Josefina Vázquez Mota of the National Action Party (PAN) came in third place, with 24 percent of the vote. The IFE announced that it would also do a recount on about 75 percent of the voting stations to examine the votes for the federal legislature.
Both Vázquez Mota and outgoing president Felipe Calderón accepted Peña Nieto’s victory Sunday night while López Obrador reserved judgment. The PRD and its presidential candidate have now rejected the results and demand a full recount of every vote cast.
Among the evidence that López Obrador and his supporters in the Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA) movement have come up with are voting locations in which more than 100 percent of voters cast ballots, locations that never opened, protests by voters who sold their votes to the PRI and have yet to be paid, and receipts from a supermarket chain that accepted a PRI-issued debit card.
The cards, with amounts ranging from 100 to 1000 pesos (approximately US$7.50 to $75), were allegedly distributed in the state of Mexico and could only be exchanged for merchandise at supermarket chains Soriana and Bodegas Aurrerá. According to the accusation, after having voted for Peña Nieto, people could claim the cards. Both Soriana and Peña Nieto denied the charges, claiming that the evidence, including cards and video, had been falsified by the López Obrador campaign. Peña Nieto accused the PRD candidate of being a sore loser. The escalating scandal now has a name: SorianaGate.
MORENA’s on-line periodical, Regeneración, listed some 800 voting stations with more ballots cast than voters registered in that station. In one Veracruz location, Regeneración alleges that 300 percent of the registered voters cast ballots. The López Obrador campaign is demanding that the Federal Election Commission investigate all voting locations with a participation rate higher than 80 percent.
Participants in a Monday demonstration organized by #YoSoy132, an online youth activist group, were informed of other incidents of fraud—including the theft of ballot boxes, shootings, and the kidnapping of election officials —by police and security forces.
It would be a mistake to blame López Obrador’s defeat to SorianaGate or to electoral fraud. The vote against the PAN, which has held the presidency for 12 years, was a rejection of Mexico’s dirty war on the gangs, and of the collapse of living standards for millions of Mexicans.
Faced with candidates who were in basic agreement on most things, from beefing up security forces to fight the drug war, to liberalizing labor market, to protecting corporate and media monopolies, many voters had nothing to go on except media presence and personal appeal.
At the same time, this was not just another election. Mexico is a social powder keg waiting to explode. Escalating social inequality, collapsing living standards, increasing unemployment, famine and malnutrition, and a seemingly endless war on drugs are driving social conflict, from Oaxaca to Veracruz to Sonora.
This is the second time that López Obrador claims to be the victim of fraud. In 2006, where Calderón’s margin of victory was about ½ percent, the PRD candidate alleged fraud, declared himself the winner and mobilized his supporters in Mexico City to protest the result. Aside from ballot tampering, in that election López Obrador had been the object of a campaign that branded him as a “danger to Mexico,” for his so-called radical views.
In the 2012 campaign, the candidate presented an image more acceptable to the political establishment. In line with that, López Obrador has ruled out mass mobilizations or occupations of the kind that he led in 2006 in Mexico City.
Wikileaks documents from 2006 obtained by the Mexico City daily La Jornadaindicate that the United States was informed and involved in the political maneuvers to insure López Obrador’s defeat. One cable, titled “AMLO: Apocalypse not” describes conversations between the PRD candidate, referred to by his acronym, and US Ambassador Tony Garza and other US embassy officials. Despite the cable’s title, it is clear from the content of the cable that the Garza did not necessarily consider a López Obrador victory a problem for the US—though it is clear from the diplomatic exchanges that the US expected and favored a PAN victory.
Despite López Obrador’s 2006 nationalist rhetoric, Garza reported that the PRD leader “tried to ease our minds … an experienced politician, AMLO geared his discussion to his audience, showing his willingness to discuss the difficult issues and appearing open to our suggestions.” The memo also places emphasis on López Obrador’s willingness to use the military and expanded security forces to combat the drug cartels.
Other US cables from that period took note of López Obrador’s ability to appeal to rally mass support, and his support for the Oaxaca teachers who were then engaged in a struggle against Governor Ulises Ruiz. Six years later, there is no doubt that the Obama administration is as informed and involved in Mexican affairs as was the Bush White House in 2006—or more. Yet other embassy cables report on lobbying efforts by the Catholic Church and the Mexican right wing to sabotage an AMLO victory.
The anger and bitterness of the 2006 outcome, did not prevent the PRD and PAN from forming electoral alliances when they saw fit. Under the pressure of the class struggle, old recriminations will be pushed aside and both the PRI and PRD will present a counterrevolutionary united front.
Assuming Peña Nieto, as is expected, successfully fights off López Obrador’s electoral challenge, his administration may, in fact, be discredited from the start. This poses a dilemma for the Obama administration, at a time in which it is asserting imperial control over oil and other natural resources around the world against its European and Asian rivals.
As a major oil and commodity producer on the US southern frontier, Mexico is a major piece in its global strategy. In that context the assistance of López Obrador and the PRD in dealing with an increasingly restive working class will become increasingly important.

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Mexico: PRI declares victory – mass movement opposes ‘imposition’

Written by Arash Azizi, our correspondent in Mexico CityWednesday, 04 July 2012
For them, it was over very soon. Less than a couple of hours after the polling stations were closed, the night of July 1, the main monopoly television stations were already declaring the victory of bourgeois candidate, Pena Nieto, of the hated Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The newspaper “El Universal” had already printed in advance its morning edition with Pena Nieto on the cover as the “winner” in the country’s presidential elections. They had in fact planned this months and years ahead and just couldn’t wait a few more hours for such niceties as an official declaration of results!
The preliminary results declared by the IFE (Federal Election Institute) – of course – confirmed this by declaring Pena Nieto as the winner with 17,615,529 votes (37.89%), with leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) following with 14,808,521 (31.85%) and then Josefina Vazquez Mota, from the incumbent National Action Party (PAN) with 11,839,849 (25.46%). These were only preliminary results and they came amid the vast evidence of fraud and all sorts of ‘irregularities’ which, now that we write these lines, (Tuesday night) have become ever more evident. Thus, when Lopez Obrador declared, on Sunday night, that he would wait for the official results, he was only doing what any self-respecting candidate in any elections would do.
But the Mexican and International bourgeoisie, ever fearful of a repeat of the 2006 movement against the abject fraud in that year’s elections, quickly rallied around Pena Nieto and attempted to clean any stains from the banner of his victory and also heavily pressuring AMLO to concede. International media quickly crowned him “President-elect” based on the ‘exit polls’ of monopoly television stations that are so visibly in cahoots with the PRI. The New York Times, whose coverage of the campaign has been truly shameful even by its own standards, quickly ran an op-ed by Pena Nieto that dubbed him as “President-elect.” President Obama, of course, quickly called to congratulate his new Mexican friend.
These ‘confident’ gestures of the bourgeoisie initially led to a sense of shock and despair within the ranks of AMLO supporters and the fantastic youth movement, “I am 132.” In the early hours, the relatively wide margin declared between the two candidates (at least 6 percent, compared to less than 1 percent that was declared in 2006) led many to doubt if, in fact, significant fraud had taken place. But it was amazing how quickly this mood started to change. With the help of talking to youth who had gathered in the Zocalo to celebrate, and by observing trends in the social media, one could quickly grasp this changing mood. From shock and despair to anger, an endless anger not only against what quickly became clear as the fraudulent actions of the PRI (as we will describe below) but against all that the status quo of Mexican capitalism presents the youth with.
“National Shame”
As we write these lines two nights after the elections, the details of the electoral fraud and the sham that the ‘electoral process’ is in Mexico, have become ever more clear. AMLO has aptly called it a ‘national shame.’
Immediately after elections, the London based Economist (one of the feisty supporters of Pena Nieto) reported of ‘voters in poor areas being offered upwards of 500 pesos ($38) to hand over their voting cards and that ‘others were disenfranchised by poor planning on the part of the election authorities.’ (Curiously, the vast majority of such cases were in strong working class areas of Mexico City which are AMLO strongholds.) Your correspondent’s interview with several international observers from the Organization of American States (hardly a revolutionary organization!) in Mexico City voting stations revealed the same thing.
But what has been revealed since is even more shocking. Associated Press reported that “thousands of people rushed to stores [of Soriana] on Tuesday to redeem pre-paid gift cards they said were given them by the party that won Mexico’s presidency, inflaming accusations that the election was marred by massive vote-buying.”
AP’s report further reads: “At least a few cardholders were angry, complaining they didn’t get as much as promised, or that their cards weren’t working.” An angry father told AP that: “They told us they were worth 500 pesos, but when we got to the check-out, they were only worth 100 rotten pesos.”
Al-Jazeera showed a video of a man telling an assembled group of people that they will only receive their ‘gifts’ if they sign-up 10 other people! This is only an extreme and direct form of the way the PRI would force thousands of people to vote for it. We have to remember that this is the Party that ruled Mexico for more than seven decades on a corporatist model. It still controls the vast majority of state governments (19 out of 31), including, crucially, the most populous one, the State of Mexico (the suburbs surrounding the Federal District) whose last governor was no other than Pena Nieto himself. For a lot of people, ‘good relations’ with the PRI is the only way of obtaining their Taco stand permits or keep their jobs in institutions such as Pemex (the national oil company).
And to sum it up, not only AMLO’s team declared detecting irregularities in 113,855 polling places, independent election observers has said that 28 percent of voters interviewed (i.e. about one third) had faced cases of ‘irregularities’ such as this which, as a result, in their opinion, puts the whole process into doubt. AMLO has, therefore, requested a total re-count of the vote that he is unlikely to be granted.
We need to note that even before these revelations, factors like the role played by hatedTelevisa, among the main targets of the “I am 132” movement, was enough to put the whole process into question. This had been broadly revealed by outlets like Mexican magazine Proceso and the British newspaper The Guardian. In a country that has more TV sets than refrigerators, Televisa alone controls 70 percent of the market and from the beginning it worked hand-in-hand with the PRI to force Pena Nieto onto the Mexican people like a character in one of its ‘telenovelas’ (soap operas.)
This was clearly a ‘national shame’, a sham of electoral fraud and the most base vote-buying which didn’t even conform to the minimums of bourgeois democracy and Mexico’s own laws. This sham was, moreover, supported by the desperate Mexican bourgeoisie who after 12 years of disastrous rule of the PAN, was ready to hand power back to the PRI, the Party of corruption and authoritarianism. Thus, the abandoning of the PAN and its candidate, Josefina, by the bourgeoisie led to its significant fall and left it in the wilderness, a blow that PAN might not fully recover from anytime soon, if ever. (The rise and fall of the PAN in recent years and its relationship with the PRI could be a subject of an article itself.)
Youth movement demands ‘revolution’
“If you impose him, we’ll have a revolution!” This bold demand was repeated times and again in the marches of the “I am 132” movement in the last few weeks. It took less than a few hours after the initial results came out, in those crucial hours of Sunday night when surely hundreds of thousands didn’t sleep, for the ranks of the movement to decide that Pena Nieto’s ‘win’ is that ‘imposition’ that they were warning against. A march was immediately planned for Monday, 2pm from the ‘Estela de Luz’ monument to the Zocalo, the city’s massive central square. To many, including your correspondent, it wasn’t clear how many would show up to such a march, on the first day of the week, in the middle of the day, at such short notice. None of the mainstream media, domestic or international, mentioned anything about the march as they were busy broadcasting ‘love-ins’ with Pena Nieto. (Although Al-Jazeera’s correspondent did, at least, notice that there were curiously no youth present in the PRI’s semi-empty election night ‘fiesta’ in their Mexico City headquarters).
When I arrived at “Estela de Luz”, shortly after 2pm, any doubts were clarified. This was to be nothing less than a mass youth movement. Thousands upon thousands had filled the area in front of the monument and seemingly endless swarms of people kept joining in. When you came out of the Chapultepec Metro station (itself, by the way, filled with protesters holding signs up) the first thing that caught the eye was an activist that had gotten on top of a large bulldozer, waving a red flag with a Hammer and Sickle emblazoned on it. This was the state of things. The New York Times might declare Pena Nieto “President-elect”, but at the same time a red flag was flying over a mass youth movement against him!
As I interviewed many of the people present (almost all students), the mood was markedly different than on previous demonstrations. Karla, a 19-year old philosophy student from UNAM, was almost offended when I asked if she thought there was fraud. “Their whole system is a fraud!” she told me. Does she think they can overturn the IFE results? “It’s simple. If they impose him, we’ll have a revolution!” – repeating the oft-repeated slogan to me as if it was a simple fact.
This was, and is, not yet a revolution but ‘revolutionary’ would be a good word to describe the mood of those present. Shortly after march begins, for some reason people don’t want to go to Zocalo! “We always do that.” There is a correct sense that something other than ‘the usual’ is needed to confront this latest round of fraud, even though people don’t know what. What do we do then? “Let’s march to the monument of the Revolution!” Some ‘leaders’ grumble and talk about the ‘original plan’, but here people vote with their feet. On an intersection, after a sense that the majority wants the “new route” they change and head toward there.
From Estela de Luz until the Monument of Revolution it’s less than 2.5 kilometer (30-35 minutes) in a straight line. But it’s as if the youth have vowed to free themselves of their energy! They take a bizarre route, going through the affluent Polanco which takes much more time! We have previously written about the energetic state of marches in Mexico City and today it’s even more the case. Tens of thousands of youth, which are seemingly joined by more and more people every minute, march and block the streets, while running and jumping (“He who doesn’t jump is Pena Nieto!”). Their battle cry, “Look here! Look here to see Pena Nieto will not become President!”, has now, after the results, another dimension to it. If until a week ago, to vote Pena out sounded like an intention, now it sounds like a declaration of war on all the institutions that have endorsed his ‘victory’.
As if to test the energy of the youth, one of the heaviest rainfalls of recent weeks starts pouring down. While the plastic raincoat vendors are having a brisk business, the youth have seemingly found an excuse to shout their defiance. “Come rain, come wind, the movement will continue” they declare. But when they finally reach the Monument of Revolution, hiding from the rain under their huge university banners, the bother of the rain has seemingly added to the restlessness and anger. It is now closer to 6’o clock. We have marched more than 4 hours. What to do next?
The spokespersons of “I Am 132” movement take the stage while thousands are listening under a rain that is now much less fierce. They have prepared a program. Poems, declarations, songs… But it seems that the crowd has no patience for that. When an actress from a respected artistic group of UNAM wants to recite a poem, people grumble and shout her down. The spokesperson’s suggestion of going to the Zocalo now is also shouted down. One cry becomes louder than the others: “IFE! Let’s go to the offices of Federal Election Institute.” A slight problem there, IFE is about 50 kilometers away in the centre of Tlalpan, the southernmost borough of Mexico City! (Whereas the ‘city centre’ area, where we were, is actually in the northern part of the city.) The youth who shout “IFE” know that, but they seem to not care. This is what I mean when I say there was a ‘revolutionary’ mood among the youth: They want everything, and they want it now.
The leaders propose an action for Thursday, three days from now. They are shouted down with cries of “too late!” How about Wednesday? “Even tomorrow is late!” comes the answer. We need to do something now! Nowhere is the lack of leadership more obvious and in a tragicomic manner clear to see. The tens of thousands of youth gathered, having marched more than four hours, some of it under the pouring rain, are clearly full of energy and thirsting to ‘do something’. But quite what it takes to stop Pena Nieto, they are not sure. And the ‘leaders’ can offer no lead. Some of the youth who start to figure out 50 kilometers is not what they can afford marching right now, propose that for tomorrow. For now, let’s go to the PRI offices that are nearby. At least, it is something new. Somewhere we can direct our anger at!
Again, an indirect route is taken so that it takes more than another hour to reach the huge PRI offices in the city center. (‘Offices’ is probably not an accurate word as the headquarters looks like a mini-city in its own right!). The slogans become angrier and angrier as we get close to the PRI office. Pena Nieto being an “assassin” is one of the primary ones. This title, not as fancy as ‘president-elect’, is written by the youth, in huge letters, on the walls of the PRI compound. Some also enthusiastically respond to a call by some protesters by peeing in the compound through the gates! Their disgust has to be somehow shown!
But again the question of “What Now” reigns everywhere. The march has already been going on for nearly six hours. Some start to leave. But there are those who just can’t do so, just as they can’t accept the results that they heard less than 24 hours ago. Thus, they once more continue to another favorite location, the Televisa station in Chapultepec. Thousands (although the numbers are much, much lower now, as many leave when it gets dark) march there as well and greet the police forces with shouts of “Brothers, your fight is on this side!” All the walls of Televisa are, once more, decorated with slogans. After a while, and when it’s nearly 10pm, and thus we have marched for about 8 hours, some demand another stop: “Let’s go to the Zocalo!” Here, however, some youth intervene to say: “Weren’t we rejecting going to the Zocalo from the beginning? This is madness! We need direction, we need a plan! We can’t just march everywhere!” Thus, the obvious limits of the marching have dawned on some only after 8 hours of shouting anger on the streets. The Zocalo plan is rejected and people start going home. One of the last things written on the Televisa wall: “Until yesterday we were peaceful, now it’s time for the revolution!’
We have indulged in this detailed description of the march in the hope of give you, our readers, a sense of the energy and mood on display, a mood of defiance and confidence, familiar in the early stages of every mass movement.
The day after, Tuesday, similar actions continued, which your correspondent couldn’t take part in, including another tens of thousands strong march on Televisa and a sit-in in front of IFE in Tlalpan which until now – the wee hours of Wednesday morning – are still going on. (Some reports speak of this sit-in having ended in ‘violence’ with the possible involvement of police and/or army. But, by the time we write these lines, this was yet to be confirmed.)
The situation is quite clear: there is a defiant mass movement of tens of thousands of youth who are ready to fight the imposition of another 6 years of bourgeois rule and the return of the PRI. What they lack is a direction and leadership that could lead them toward their goals. Will that be found in AMLO?
Can AMLO provide leadership? What Way Forward?
The main reason why AMLO is so widely hated by the Mexican and international bourgeoisie is that in 2006, after the most obvious case of fraud that prevented him from victory, he dared to defy the bourgeois state, symbolized with his slogan, “Devil take your institutions” and led more than six weeks of blocking Reform Avenue, the main pathway of Mexico City with hundreds of thousands of supporters. That movement (an analysis of which can be found on included demonstrations of up to three million people (the largest in the country’s history) and was happening at the same time as other movements, like the one in the southern state of Oaxaca which lead to a temporary collapse of the state, but it eventually failed because of its failure to put the working class at its head with an indefinite strike that could have paralyzed the country. AMLO’s lack of a bold socialist program was matched by his hesitancy to go for such a plan and thus Calderon was finally able to be sworn-in as President on December 1, 2006, although he had to enter through the back door to escape the masses of protesters in front of the National Palace in the Zocalo. The result? Six years of poverty and misery, thousands of dead in the disastrous Drugs War and a downward spiral toward hell for the Mexican masses.
This time, the camp of the PRD, the Party of Democratic Revolution, (of which AMLO represents its left-wing, while it also has a right-wing linked to sections of the “liberal” bourgeoisie) was planning on not running the ‘embarrassing’ AMLO who had dared to take on the bourgeois ‘institutions.’ There was initially a plan to repeat an “Anti-PRI” alliance with the conservative PAN (that was done in a few state elections), .i.e. either not running a candidate and supporting the PAN or running somebody that PANistas could stomach… certainly not Obrador who had never accepted the legitimacy of the presidency of PANista Calderon. The PRD’s right-wing candidate of choice was Marcelo Ebrard, the ‘moderate’ current mayor of Mexico City. AMLO, however, threatened to run as the candidate of the smaller PT (Labour Party) if he wasn’t allowed to run on the PRD ticket. He also launched the mass movement/organization MORENA (Movement for National Regeneration) to organize his base. The PRD bureaucrats knew they had no chance against a mass-backed AMLO candidacy and conceded in supporting him, to the chagrin of many within the bourgeoisie who had hoped for a ‘responsible’ PRD as a less-embarrassing alternative to the corrupt parties, PRI and PAN.
Obrador, however, made the mistake of drawing the wrong conclusions from his 2006 campaign. Instead of now moving toward a clear socialist program that could mobilize thousands more of workers, youth and peasants, in the ballot boxes and on streets, he went out of his way to appear more ‘moderate’ – not a Chavez but a Lula, to use a popular analogy. This is even a bigger shame considering the fact that Mexico has been the scene of some huge proletarian battles like that of the electrical workers, organized in the democratic union SME, in the last few years.
The man who used to refer to himself as the ‘legitimate president’ after 2006 was now apologetic about that movement, going as far as signing a ‘civility pact’, promising to bow down to the state institutions. The man whose campaign in 2006 had been titled “For the good of all, the poor are first” now promised, on every occasion, to be a President “For both poor and rich” and referred to his goal as the vague concept of a “Republic of Love”.
This led to a truly anemic campaign that had failed, even more than in 2006, to mobilize the masses, while it also failed to ‘satisfy’ the bourgeoisie (Most significantly, The Economist explained plainly that had the PRD chosen Ebrard, they would have endorsed him but now they have no choice but to back the PRI!)
If the Obrador campaign got the energy that it did – on display with its ‘end campaign’ march of more than 1.4 million in the Zocalo – it owes that not to its ‘moderate’ program but to the fantastic “I am 132” movement, the rise of which has been chronicled in our previous articles.
This, however, was a case of ‘too little, too late’. As great as the “I am 132” movement has been, it remains largely confined to the youth (and mostly to students) whereas a movement that could truly penetrate the depths of society and the working class needs more time. This lack of mobilization (also displayed in the low voter-turnout of 62 percent, which is similar to last time) gave more room to the PRI to organize its shameless fraud.
In this context, we are right to be skeptical about AMLO leading a durable and successful fight against the “imposition”. (He is to be credited with having yet not bowed down to the pressure of the bourgeoisie in conceding the elections, but nor has he called for a mobilization by MORENA à la 2006.)
As a comrade of La Izquierda Socialista, the Marxist wing of MORENA, recently noted, Einstein once defined as ‘insanity’ as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. If AMLO’s methods failed to overturn the results in 2006, how can we expect the same methods, and even more ‘moderate’, to be victorious this time around? Especially now that the bourgeois, having learned its lessons from 2006, is more ready and has declared a wider margin in the results?
However, at the same time, this time around there are indications that we could see a stronger movement. The two main factors are: 1) the organization of MORENA, which with three million members, is present in every corner of the country, together with its youth and student wing, MORENAJE, and its ‘cultural’ wing, “Morena Cultura”, organizing some of the most well-known left-wing intellectuals and literary figures in the country. 2) There has been the fantastic “I am 132” movement, a very rare case of a mass movement against a candidate even before he gains office!
Anybody who says there are not the forces and willingness to fight is therefore fooling himself. What is lacking is not the base but a leadership that could lead these thousands of ready militants into a campaign that bears fruit and stops the PRI in its tracks.
A few hours before these lines were being written, on the invitation of La Izquierda Socialista, a public forum took place in the building of the CNTE, Section 9, a democratic teachers’ trade union. More than 100 people, mostly youth, filled the room and took every chair, with many standing in the halls. The youth had come from Morena branches, from the “I am 132” movement, the universities, etc. The room was swarming with the energy of people looking for answers. They bring many points, from mentioning cases of obvious fraud in their own locals to offering the Iranian and Egyptian revolutionary movements as role models.
Comrades Ubaldo Meneses and Adrian Alvarado, both from LIS, and the latter also a militant of Morena in the Polytechnic Institute (IPN), were the main speakers of the event who presented a way forward for the movement. Ubaldo stressed the critical role of the working class in society. He said that a demonstration is, in effect, nothing but a show of power, a barometer of the balance of forces. But in reality it hurts nobody, except perhaps some disgruntled drivers in the city centre! What is needed, instead, is to link the struggle to the working class which, with its power, could stop society. Ubaldo echoed LIS’s call for a ‘24-hour general strike’ and ended his moving speech by a call to ‘paralyze the country’ with worker’s action.
Adrian continued on the same theme by emphasizing the need for all those present to raise such a prospect in their respective organizations: branches of Morena, “I am 132”, etc. Adrian called for the formation of a “National Front against Imposition”, a call that was further clarified in the interventions of the comrades of LIS and others. Such a front would unite all the forces that are against the prospect of a Pena Nieto presidency into a mass movement aimed at stopping him from taking the presidency. Adrian noted that this movement should also include those who hadn’t necessarily taken part in the elections but want to fight against the prospect of the PRI coming back.
Comrade Adrian ended his remarks with what will prove an important lesson for the movement: “We have nothing to lose. It’s better if we fight and lose than if we don’t fight at all!” Another comrade, Ruben Ribera, added to this by saying that even if the movement didn’t succeed at stopping Pena Nieto from taking the presidency, there would be a lot at stake in continuing the fight against his policies in the coming years.
And this is the spirit of the moment! While we have every reason to doubt whether a suitable lead will be given by AMLO and the current leaders of the movement (a lead that could mean its success and could stop Pena Nieto from assuming the Presidency come December), it is also true that they can’t control the current mass movement any longer. This movement has arisen out of the depths of Mexican society, as a response to its many ills and traumas, and it will continue its march, no matter who is President.
When Calderon became President in 2006 after defeating the movement, he benefited from a relative economic boom and agreeable international economic conditions. The next Mexican president, however, will take office amidst the greatest crisis in the history of capitalism and in a period of rising revolutionary movements all over the globe. If Pena Nieto becomes President and goes forward with his declared goals, such as the privatization of PEMEX, the nationalized Mexican Oil industry, he will face huge class battles that he will, by no way, be certain of winning. (We might also add that based on a projection of current numbers, the PRI will not have a majority in both chambers of the Congress which will give it a tougher time.)
The slogan of Mexican youth, “If you impose him, there will be a revolution”, might seem a bit over-optimistic at this stage, but we are absolutely certain of its eventual realization, if not in the coming months, in the coming years!
Expose the electoral sham!
Build The National Front Against Imposition!
For a 24-hour General Strike! 
The struggle continues!
(July 4, 2012, 5am, Coyoacan, Mexico City)

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A G-20 en route to balkanization


by Alfredo Jalife-Rahme

The meetings have been coming at high speed for world leaders. After the NATO summit and the G8 in Chicago and just before the Earth Summit in Rio, then the EU summit in Brussels in late June, Alfredo Jalife analyses the G20 meeting that took place in Mexico on 18-19 June. According to him, 2012 is a transition year and the contradictions within this world economic government are too great for it to make any momentous decisions. He invites us instead to turn our attention to the bilateral meetings that were being held in the shadow of the Mexican pyramids.
We had the electoral agendas of the U.S. and China colliding with the crisis of the Euro zone, spreading infection to the heart of the G20 meeting in Los Cabos.
Obama, whose reelection is uncertain, was paralyzed and could not make strong decisions at the G20, which suffered from chronic acephaly, especially as the host itself, Mexico, no longer commands the initiative, neither locally nor regionally or globally.
For incumbent President Hu Jintao, the summit was only a formality, and it will be his designated successor Xi Jinping who will adopt the relevant decisions at the G-20 next year in Moscow. It is not China that will save the United States nor Europe from their serious financial crisis. Of the three superpowers, the only one who arrived in Los Cabos with both hands free was the President of Russia, Vlady Putin.
France has defined its new direction with the socialist François Hollande and his attractive new slogan, “growth without austerity”, while Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying, against all odds, to maintain fiscal discipline and austerity, from which even President Obama has strayed.
The G-20 is a motley grouping of the world’s top 20 GDPs, with two glaring exceptions, Spain and Iran; the idea being, from an economist perspective, to combine the G-7, in decline, and crippled with debts, with the BRIC countries’ high savings and low debt. In geopolitical terms, the G-20 would be a fractured “G-12” (G-7 + the five BRICS) plus their peripheral allies. Only three Latin American countries are included in the group: Brazil, Mexico (the host country) and Argentina.
The violently hostile position of Mexican President Calderon – who apparently wished to become the head of the predatory Spanish oil company, Repsol – to the nationalization by Argentina of that company, highlighted his country’s subservience to the U.S., in unison with his avowed antagonism towards BRICS. The shadow of fractures pursues Calderon at all levels.
The anatomy of the G-20 reveals several other fractures: between the G-7 and the BRICS, whose interests collide in Syria and Iran; between South America (Argentina and Brazil) and Mexico’s Calderon, docile towards Spain and the USA.
Western media were quite skeptical about the results of this summit, whose agenda was disrupted by the crisis in Europe, Angela Merkel finding herself under the combined pressure of the USA, Great Britain, and the new socialist presidency of France. This crisis is not without importance for the rest of the world, but is nonetheless a subject relevant to the Eurocentrism of one or the other; and now everyone knows the Greek verdict on the dra(ch)ma of its destiny
There is no cohesion in the euro zone, and Angela Merkel criticized the French economic line in an unusual verbal clash with François Hollande [1]. The French government has denied the creation of a common front with Italy and Spain against Germany, but what has supremely annoyed Angela Merkel is the French president’s meeting with the German opposition center-left, relatively tempted by the “growth without austerity” project.
China has been alerted to the possibility of Greece’s leaving the euro zone [2]. The G-20 finds itself in a catatonic state, in the best case, or the worst, rushed into fatalistic balkanization.
In any event, the most important thing -in my view- is what happened, bilateral in nature, on the sidelines of the summit: the exchanges between Obama and Putin and between Obama and Hu Jintao.
The Xinhua agency (15/6/12) had revealed that Putin had planned to meet Obama: it was the first meeting since Putin’s return to the Kremlin last month, and “it is likely to involve the signing of important agreements. “
Indeed, The Economist (16/6/12), which suffers fromPutinophobia and is the spokesman for the neoliberal globalists, hasn’t stopped ranting against this meeting. One would think they would like a world war, ostensibly to clean up their finances. This meeting was the highlight of the summit. Despite the severe collision between U.S. and Russia on the Syrian internal conflict, the Iranian nuclear dispute and the deployment of an alleged “missile defense” to Russia’s borders, it is not unlikely that both countries are in the process of delineating their respective spheres of influence in the broader Middle East.
Today we see NATO (which includes the G-7 except Japan) and the Shanghai group struggle to define their new Near Eastern borders.
Germany is on the defensive in the face of U.S. pressure, and according to Xinhua, wanting the summit to “go beyond the question of the European debt, and consider the problem of recovery and economic growth on a global scale, which means to remedy the “dismal status of U.S. finances”. The U.S. is trying to impose the theme of the European crisis, perhaps to avoid being publicly shamed for not implementing the comprehensive global financial reform that Russia defends, and which had been decided at the previous summit in Cannes.
The president of Brazil, Deilma Rousseff, warned that “the world should not expect emerging economies alone to solve the problem of the global crisis”. Will she convince Calderon?
One of the architects of the “model G-20”, the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown argued that “the European crisis is not the crisis of one, it is the crisis of all” [3] and he added that if the G-20 fails to coordinate a concerted global action plan soon, “we are facing a global slowdown, which will impact the U.S. presidential elections, and the transition to a global leadership role for China”. In conclusion, he said: “this is the last chance.”
Certainly, a global crisis will hurt Obama, but it seems exagerrated to mention China in this context, unless the perfidious Albion has a wild card up her sleeve. Gordon Brown felt the members of the G-20 should not “leave Mexico without agreeing to support a major project for rescuing Europe, to stop the contagion.”
The drama of his statements reflects the fact that the situation is difficult for Britain, because in his deconstructive semiotics, “rescue” of the world economy probably means that of Great Britain, simply.
Indeed, David Cameron has a severe infection, due to his obscene links with the pestilential oligarch Murdoch, and he is so shaken that he recently forgot his eight year old girl in a pub.
Thus the insolvent Anglosphere is dramatizing the situation. James Haley, manager of the global economy program of CIGI (a Canadian think tank) adds that the short-term challenges of the G-20 are immense, and that to “preserve the system of international trade and payments of the last 65 years” is a must. Is the situation really so tragic?
The time and place for the G-20 meeting couldn’t have been worse: the day after the Greek elections, with acatatonic Obama, and a powerless host country. What decisions can be taken with this level of fracturing within the G-20?
China Daily (06/16/12) sized up the summit in the following terms: “it is necessary to extinguish the flames of the global economy.” The problem is that some in the G-20 are more firebugs (you know whom) than firemen.

Translated from French by Roger Lagasse.
[1Reuters/Global Times, 16/6/12.
[2China Daily, 15/6/12.
[3Reuters, 15/6/12.

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Mexico: Enrique Peña Nieto wins presidential race

By Rafael Azul 
3 July 2012
According to a preliminary ballot count, Enrique Peña Nieto, 45, former governor of the State of Mexico, appears to have won the July 1 presidential contest. Peña Nieto’s party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has also won a majority of the federal legislature.
On Monday morning, the Federal Elections Commission (IFE) reported the following totals: Peña Nieto received more than 18 million votes, 38.02 percent; Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) received 31.73 percent; Josefina Vazquez Mota of the National Action Party (PAN) 25.44 percent; Gabriel Quadri of the New Alliance Party (PANAL) 2.3 percent; and 2.41 percent of the ballots were spoiled. Out of 70 million potential voters, the participation rate was 62 percent.
In addition to a new president, Mexican voters were electing 300 members of the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico’s lower house) and 168 senators. New governors were to be elected in six states and a new mayor in Mexico City. The PRI appears to have won majorities in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate.
President Felipe Calderón, who won in 2006 as the candidate of the PAN, immediately acknowledged the victory of the PRI and promised an “orderly, transparent and efficient” transition during the period leading up to the inauguration of the new president on November 1. “I want to sincerely congratulate him,” he said of Peña Nieto.
The PRD retained control of the second most powerful office in the country, mayor of Mexico City, the capital and most populous city, with Miguel Angel Mancera winning more than 60 percent of the vote, ensuring he will succeed the PRD’s Marcelo Ebrard.
The election took place amidst accusations of electoral fraud and the ongoing drug war. The alleged fraud consists of lost ballots, vote buying, and ballot sites that did not open on time. National Action Party (PAN) officials charged that some 15,000 voting locations—so-called “red sites”—were suspect, mainly for vote buying by the Institutionalist Revolutionary Party (PRI). PAN leader Gustavo Madero called on federal authorities to be very vigilant.
According to a survey by the Mexico City daily La Jornada, 70 percent of the public believed that the current election would be fraudulent. As the results became known, #YoSoy132 protesters began to rally at the IFE offices in several cities, to protest over instances of vote buying, and of voters prevented from voting.
Mexico has a long history of vote manipulation. López Obrador had raised the issue during the last few weeks, charging the PRI with using gifts to entice voters into electing its candidates. The candidate accused PRI officials of spending US$5 million to purchase debit cards that were then distributed among the population.
Despite the allegations, however, Peña Nieto’s victory is consistent with his first-place standing in polls since the start of the campaign, three months ago, although his margin has narrowed significantly, from 30 percent down to little more than 5 percent.
Mexico’s electoral system awards the presidency to the candidate with a plurality of the votes, even if less than a 50 percent majority, so unlike France, for instance, there is no second round.
The victory of the PRI is the result of the enormous popular hostility to the PAN, which has held the presidency since 2000, and left the vast majority of Mexican working people worse off than before. Despite the backing of the outgoing president Felipe Calderon, Vazquez Mota won only a quarter of the votes cast July 1, representing barely 15 percent of the Mexican population.
So discredited is the Calderon administration that sections of the PAN, including former president Vicente Fox and Manuel Clouthier, son and heir to the late party’s founder and longtime boss, both broke with their party, backing the PRI and the PRD, respectively.
Describing the record of the PAN, one worker told the New York Times, “The rich are richer, the poor are poorer; the rest of us in between, we’re just surviving.” What “just surviving” means is suggested by census figures that show 57 percent of Mexican workers earn less than $13.50 per day. Fifty-two million Mexicans live below the official poverty line, 12 million more than a decade ago.
The outcome is hardly a demonstration of enthusiasm for the PRI, widely reviled as corrupt and authoritarian, or for Peña Nieto personally, viewed by millions as the puppet of the big media monopolies and Mexico’s handful of billionaires. The longer the campaign went on, the further Peña Nieto fell in the polls, and in the end, more than 60 percent of those voting opposed him.
The PRD’s shift to the right over the past six years was a major contribution to the successful return to power of the PRI. The programmatic differences among the contending candidates were very narrow. Over the last six years the PRD and López Obrador had moved away from the left-populist rhetoric of the 2006 campaign, at times allying itself with the PAN in state elections.
For López Obrador, this strategy reaped support of business interests based in the city of Monterrey. An important layer of industrialists in this northern city shifted its support from the PAN to the PRD in this election. Some like Alfonso Romo, head of the Pulsar Group, had supported Calderón in 2006 and had condemned Lopez Obrador as a “danger to México.”
Cristina Sada Salinas, also from Monterrey, whose family owns textile and other industries, is running for the Senate as a PRD candidate. “We can’t take another six years of this decadence,” declared Sada. The support of the Monterrey elite—one of the most conservative in all of Mexico—for López Obrador is a testament to the sanitized PRD, calling for national unity under the slogan “love not bullets.”
The PRI victories in the legislature plus the election of Peña Nieto represent a big comeback for the PRI, the party that controlled Mexico’s executive branch for 71 years, from 1929 to 2000. The collapse of the PRI that year was the result of serious internal division.
The party was established in 1929 as an outgrowth of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917.) It effectively subordinated Mexican society, and its competing classes to the rule of the national bourgeoisie, while at the same time maintain a certain degree of independence from the United States, despite the overwhelming political, military and economic dominance of US imperialism in the region.
In the late 1980s, under the hammer blows of globalization and increasing economic pressure from the United States—ultimately crystallized into the NAFTA treaty—the corporatist structures that had allowed the party to attenuate the class struggle, subordinating it to national capitalism and the army, began to break down, and the PRI shifted drastically to the right, adopting the prescriptions of neo-liberal economists out to dismantle state enterprises and social reforms.
The corporatist “four pillars” of the PRI (big business, trade unions, farmers, and the military) were given lip service only, as transnational corporations and financial institutions demanded and achieved the dismantling of state industries, such as railroads, utilities and steel. The erosion of its institutional base ultimately produced the 2000 debacle, in which the even more right-wing PAN came to power under Vicente Fox.
That the PRI now returns to power Sunday is a sign of the magnitude of the current socio-economic crisis that has Mexico in its grip. In policy terms, the party continues under the domination of the extreme-right free-market faction—infamously known in Latin America as the “Chicago Boys” or the “técnicos.”
Despite demagogic promises of higher wages, more jobs and less street violence—Madrid’s El País called it a Christmas wish list—a Peña Nieto administration represents no change for Mexico. Throughout the campaign the candidate had made it clear that his promises for jobs and higher living standards were tied to increases in productivity that, in turn, depended on labor market reforms, that would give private companies flexibility in hiring, and firing.
The Mexican economy is linked to the US and, to a lesser extent, to Spain and the euro zone. A downturn of the American economy and the continuing collapse of Europe are bound to have a serious impact on Mexican exports, employment and living standards.

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The G20 debacle in Mexico

20 June 2012
When the Group of 20 became the world’s leading economic forum in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, there were hopes it would provide the mechanism for a solution to the financial crisis and a “rebalancing” of the world economy.
After all, it was claimed, the new body contained all the old powers as well as rising ones such as China, India and Brazil. At the G20 meeting in London in April 2009 there was broad agreement on the necessity for “stimulus” measures, largely in the form of low interest rate policies and bailouts for the major banks. But by the end of the year, concerns were raised over the Greek debt and within months the crisis of the euro zone was rapidly taking shape.
By June 2010, sharp differences had started to emerge among the major powers. While these were couched in terms of “austerity” versus “stimulus,” they centered on the role of governments and central banks in propping up financial institutions.
The US, concerned about the impact of a collapse of the euro zone on its banks and finance houses, has been urging Germany and other major European powers to do more to boost the European financial system and end the sovereign debt and banking crisis. Germany, on the other hand, fearful that its banks will be sucked into the vortex, has so far resisted.
Meanwhile, the tensions continue to deepen. While every effort is made to keep them out of public view, they erupted to the surface on the eve of the two-day G20 summit held Monday and Tuesday in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Arriving for the talks, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was asked by a Canadian reporter why North Americans should help pay for Europe’s crisis. “We are not coming here to receive lessons in democracy or in terms of how to manage our economy,” he shot back. “This crisis was not originated in Europe. This crisis was originated in North America. Many in our financial sector were contaminated by unorthodox practices by some sectors of the financial market.”
While insisting that US financial practices could not be held responsible for the European crisis—in spite of all the evidence to the contrary—the Wall Street Journal did note that “Barroso’s language, briefly tinged with anger, showed how tensions are boiling over as the crisis moves into a more dangerous phase.”
Signs of that “more dangerous phase” have been clearly visible in recent days. The interest rate on short-term Spanish debt jumped to 5 percent on Tuesday compared to just under 3 percent last month. And the rate on 10-year Spanish bonds has climbed to more than 7 percent as international investors withdraw their cash.
The flight of capital out of Spain means that official government funding will be needed to plug the gap, fueling fears that the recent provision of €100 billion to Spain by euro zone governments will prove far too small and that a sum more like €500 billion will be needed.
Another sign of the deepening crisis is the fact that boosts to the financial markets are proving to be ever-more short lived. The bounce in the markets provided by the provision of funds to Spain earlier this month lasted about half a day, before Spanish and Italian interest rates started rising again, while the rise sparked by the results of the Greek election was even shorter.
The Institute for International Finance, a group comprising some of the world’s biggest banks, called on the G20 to take urgent action in the face of “very real” risks of a global recession. “There are worrying signs of fragmentation, including retrenchment in international banking, reductions in cross-border lending and in finding markets,” a letter from the IIF declared. Decisions by investors to “scale back” were creating “additional market tensions.”
According to leaked drafts of the communiqué, obtained before discussions had concluded, the euro zone members of the G20 have pledged to “take all necessary policy measures” to safeguard the single currency, while the G20 as a whole is committed to action to generate growth and restore confidence.
But such phrases are virtually meaningless, having been issued on numerous occasions in the past three years and always accompanied by the rider that action has to be “based on country-specific circumstances.” In other words, national governments can do as they like and there is no globally coordinated economic policy, nor any agreement on what it might be.
The communiqué was also reported to have included a stipulation that, as well as taking measures to ensure stability, the euro zone members of the G20 would also “break the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks.”
This refers to the situation where the money that is provided to countries with the biggest sovereign debt problems goes to that country’s banks, which in turn invest these funds in the bonds of their own government. In other words, the most indebted countries and the weakest banks have become increasingly dependent on each other—a situation that has been likened to two drunks leaning against each other to prevent both from collapsing.
As with its other proposals, the G20 did not spell out how it intended to break this “negative feedback loop.”
The absence of concrete measures is an expression of the fundamental factors underlying of the crisis of the euro zone and the world financial system more broadly.
The complex interconnections of the global financial system are one very graphic expression of the processes of globalization that have developed over the past three decades, heightening to an explosive point the contradiction between world economy and the system of rival nation-states and great powers in which the capitalist system remains rooted.
This contradiction led to the breakdown of the capitalist system in 1914 and the eruption of war. But all that followed 1914—world war, depression, fascism and mass unemployment—will develop again unless the crisis is resolved through the intervention of the international working class to overthrow the bankrupt capitalist order and establish the basis for a global socialist economy.
Nick Beams

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Mexico’s 30-day Lesson in Democracy

Imposing a President
By Marta Molina
Photo by author.

June 14, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — On June 10, at 11:30 in the morning, Mexico City’s Zócalo Plaza began to fill with people wearing creative outfits and carrying posters and signs. Yo Soy 132 academics, Yo Soy 132 artists, the “free journalists 132” and everyday citizens — retirees, children, mothers and entire families — arrived from every corner of the huge plaza.
They all came for the same reasons. They want to change their country; they want an authentic democracy; they don’t accept a presidential candidate shoved down their throats by the mainstream media; and, above all, they will not tolerate another president taking power for six years on the basis of electoral fraud. But if there is one concern that most unites them, it is that they are against the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and all that he represents to them: corruption, repression and regressive politics.
It was the second “Anti-Peña Nieto” march in Mexico City. The first was called for over social networks on May 19, and it brought some 45,000 people onto the streets. This time, the Yo Soy 132 participants — who on June 5 officially declared themselves anti-party, anti-Peña Nieto, and anti-neoliberal — called for another march this past Sunday. In total, 300,000 people marched over the course of four hours between the Zócalo and the Angel of Independence. At the same time, people in states all across Mexico and abroad marched against Peña Nieto.
“This day is historic,” said José Gil Olmos, a Mexican reporter for the weekly publication Proceso. “Never before in Mexico’s history has a rally of this caliber taken place against a presidential candidate, much less 20 days before the elections.”
Thousands more joined the march in memory of the “Halconazo,” the massacre of youth rallying in support of students in Monterrey by a paramilitary group called Los Halcones (The Falcons) that served the Mexican state on June 10, 1971. Then-president Luis Echeverría Álvarez, from the PRI, denied involvement with the massacre, and justice was never served.
Photo by Alejandro Meléndez
Among the people commemorating the “Halconazo” were survivors of the massacre demanding that Echeverría be held accountable. Other Yo Soy 132 members were present, holding signs that said, “They can assassinate students, but never their ideas.” Participants spoke about the importance of holding on to historical memory, so that student massacres such as this or the Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2, 1968, would not be repeated.
“In 1971 I suffered violence from paramilitary groups in San Cosme,” said Fernando Díaz. “Ever since, I always participate in the marches for the country’s democratization, so that there won’t be torture, so that there will be justice and peace, liberty and democracy. We haven’t had that! Everything has been purely electoral fraud. ‘Let’s be realistic and do the impossible,’ as they said in May of ’68 in France.”
Imposing a president
“If there’s imposition, there’ll be revolution!” This was one of the slogans being chanted at the “Anti-Peña Nieto” march by Francisco Rojas, a 58-year-old street artist, wearing a cardboard television on his head that read, “Televisa makes you stupid.” Rojas explained why he joined the march:
If there is electoral fraud this time around and they want to put Peña Nieto in as president, we won’t sit back with our arms crossed like we did in 2006 when they imposed Felipe Calderón or in 1988 with the imposition of Carlos Salinas de Gortari. No, no, no, no. Now we are 132 multiplied by all of the citizens you see here. We are not all university students. The elderly also arrived today, because we don’t want to return to the repressive and authoritarian PRI that ran this country from 1929 to 2000.
The participants don’t want electoral fraud, nor do they want the mainstream media promoting Enrique Peña Nieto. Media collusion with the PRI was reported this week in The Guardian and confirmed by Wikileaks cables from 2009, which uncover detailed plans by Mexican TV channel Televisa to sell positive coverage to Peña Nieto, not only in news reports, but also in entertainment programs.
Among the documents published by The Guardian was a outline of fees apparently charged for raising Peña Nieto’s national profile when he was governor of the state of Mexico, as well as a plan to sabotage leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador during the 2006 elections. This is no longer, then, about supposed fraud or accusations. It confirms that Peña Nieto is a candidate invented by Mexico’s media duopoly (Televisa and TV Azteca), along with other media outlets, to win the presidential elections this July 1.
The marches on June 10 culminated at 8 p.m. in the Zócalo, with at least 10,000 people watching a screening of the presidential candidates’ debate. What the candidates on the screen didn’t realize, however, was that they should be engaging and debating with the Mexican people, not themselves.
Growing fast
Only one month has passed since this revolt against the mainstream media and for an authentic democracy began in the form of a Twitter hashtag, #YoSoy132, invented by Mexican university students. Far from having one visible leader, the mobilization has organized itself into decentralized but coordinated cells, communicating online and sharing creative materials, especially videos, like the Second Manifesto, that have gone viral. And though they use their social networks brilliantly, they still combine those tools with real-life assemblies that make strategic decisions and call for marches, which serve to connect those who are not already members of the network. That is what happened on May 23 and June 10: Those who wanted to be a part of Yo Soy 132 were no longer separated by hashtags. They met one another and saw each other’s faces.
Before their June 10 mobilization, they shared a “Brigades Manual” on their website for those who feel connected to their cause and who want to begin to organize their communities, wherever they may be. They’ve also developed rules on nonviolent discipline for all participants, which are published on their Facebook marches event page, as well as in a document full of materials about nonviolent training.
Tomás, his wife Minerva and their son Shelik. Photo by author.
The people who have come out into the streets with Yo Soy 132 over the last 30 days do indeed seem to be forging an authentic democracy. As Tomás, a writer and artist, who was dressed like a TV at the march with his wife and young son, said:
We are all 132. We are united against the PRI. This is about people realizing that the PRI and the PAN (National Action Party) are not the option. We have lived in terror under the PAN with more than 60,000 dead, 20,000 disappeared, and there is no work, no opportunity. The students are the best example. They know that they won’t have any opportunities if we don’t change our path. We are not here supporting Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”). We are here to oppose the PRI and the PAN’s corruption and the banditry of the political parties. But we will vote for AMLO, even though after that we’re all going to have to come down on him and pressure him. It will be what is necessary.
Martha, from Ciudad Mendoza, Veracruz, who is 80 years old, said:
I get so excited when I see the kids because I think it’s they who will change the country. For me they are hope. I support the youth and I’m 132 because I want a good government for all Mexicans. Don’t defraud us. 
Today, Yo Soy 132 is calling for a “Feast for the Light of Truth” at 7 p.m. in front of Televisa offices. They invite “all free and responsible citizens to participate in this family party in favor of truth and for information” with a candle, lamp or any symbol of light, and a “white notebook” to, as they say, “spread information outside social networks.”
Meanwhile, migrants in Chiapas began the “Los Migrantes Somos 132” march this morning to ask that the Yo Soy 132 movement include in its agenda the issue of migration, which is absent in the current proposals of the presidential candidates.
Regardless of what happens July 1, these ordinary citizens, housewives, retirees, academics, journalists, immigrants, peasants and florists of San Salvador Atenco all feel inspired by this new mobilization and are giving a lesson in democracy to the world.
Marta Molina is an independent journalist from Barcelona, Catalunya. She has written about cultural resistance in Brazil and Palestine, and now she is based in Mexico following the steps of the Movement for Peace Justice and Dignity (MPJD) against the war on drugs.
This this article was first published at Waging Nonviolence

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Mexican Drug War Reality TV

By Jorge Gato

April 01, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Some weeks ago, Mexico’s second largest city was hit by over a dozen narco-blockades. Narcotraficantes shut down over a dozen intersections, evacuated citizens from buses and burned the empty vehicles (one bus driver didn’t get out in time). Meanwhile, the Mexican military executed a daring raid when they landed on Opus Dei school grounds to capture a head narcotics trafficker holed up in the nearby neighborhood.
The official story is that the narcos were retaliating for the Mexican government capture of one of their head honchos or that they were executing a diversion to allow other cartel members to escape the city.
Ironically, they later posted notes around town asking citizens for their forgiveness. It almost feels like this is Gotham and we’re living in a Batman movie, except, here there is no Dark Knight.
The US Agenda
Before we examine the issue further, it is necessary to state some clear facts:
1) The CIA and other US Government agencies have been caught running drugs into the U.S.
2) The DEA has been caught laundering money for drug cartels from Colombia to Mexico.
3) The ATF and the White House were caught selling tens of thousands of guns directly to Mexican drug cartels.
4) Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught stating that their goals are to demonize gun possession and create an anti-gun culture with the ultimate purpose of disallowing lawful firearm possession.
5) Operations Fast & Furious as well as Gunrunner were attempts at fomenting such an atmosphere.
6) Under Full Spectrum Dominance, the U.S. has already divided up the North American continent as being under the common security perimeter of US Northern Command (NORTHCOMM).
Mexican Deep Politics
Dr. Peter Dale Scott is one of the preeminent researchers and authors on the topic of “deep politics” and the global drug trade. We had the great opportunity to speak with Dr. Scott for about an hour on these issues.
In his book American War Machine, he painstakingly details the nexus between the various actors. In this instance, these are mainly the US government, Mexican government and narco traffickers as well as middlemen in-between (i.e. the odd Iranian used-car salesman).
In 1947, the same year the CIA was created, the US government helped Mexico create its own agency called the Federal Security Directorate (DFS). The U.S. also assisted other countries in creating their own intelligence agencies (i.e. DINA in Chile, SIN in Haiti, etc.).
The CIA-DFS duo has been running drugs ever since. Indeed, the founder of the agency, Colonel Carlos Serrano had been caught in action. At the time, a State Department report noted the “Gestapo” powers of the DFS and how it was used “to get rid of their competition and control the business.” The main point of the DFS was not to stop the flow of drugs but to manage it and fight the communist left.
The DFS was essentially a CIA asset and many assets on the CIA payroll actually went on to become prominent politicians with at least one of them becoming the president of Mexico. Family members would then be drug trade contacts, such as was the case with Raul Salinas. Essentially, the US government was able to manipulate Mexican politics by proxy via the DFS. In a CIA report, out of six assessed Mexican agencies, despite the DFS having the worst record, the CIA went on to say that they would still work with them because they were the most “competent and capable!”
The CIA-DFS-Cartel Triad
Due to a scandal in 1985, the DFS morphed into CISEN at which time it lost its CIA protection because of the murder of a DEA agent. According to Peter Dale Scott, the institutional arrangements between the triad continued up until at least Ernesto Zedillo’s presidency (1995-2001).
One of the interesting things pointed out in American War Machine is that the agencies have their preferred cartels. The CIA and DFS/CISEN have cartels they are aligned with and make sure to support them against the competition. During the 1990s Salinas presidency, agencies and offices such as the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) were up to 95% under narco control at times.
The global drug trade is a key underlying factor in understanding world events. It has become the blood vessel of the global economy without which the system would collapse. It is what provides liquidity to the banks. It makes all those involved, from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Columbia and Wall Street, wealthy beyond imagination. It feeds the Prison-Industrial Complex with its drug offenders. It feeds the Military-Industrial Complex with the resulting violence and arms sales. It feeds the Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex with the outlaw of natural medicine.
More importantly, it provides off-the-record cash for funding acts of terror, assassinations and other black operations by governments. Could you imagine the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) reaction assessing the receipts detailing how official government funds were used for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr?
Other examples might include when Nicaraguan Contras were trained in Veracruz, Mexico by CIA/DFS narco assets. Or the case of E. Howard Hunt, who was deeply involved in the drug trade as well as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Seeing as this is the way the cookie crumbles, I am not a terrible optimist. Decriminalization is the only hope, but there are too many politicians who stand to lose too much (i.e. Hillaryious Clinton). Even the Netherlands is turning back the clock by banning cannabis sales. Only time will tell. In the meantime, keep your noses clean.
Jorge Gato lives in Mexico and is a social sciences educator who is in the trenches daily, warding off severe cases of cognitive dissonance, mass indoctrination and unhealthy reasoning. He writes at
Copyright © 2012 The Dollar Vigilante

What would James Q Wilson tell Mexico?

By Spengler 

No political scientist had more impact on the daily lives of Americans than James Q Wilson, who transformed American law enforcement. News of his death came on March 3. Rather than concentrate on kingpins, Wilson argued for controlling petty crime. His classic 1982 article “Broken Windows” argued that maintaining the perception of public order was a precondition for law enforcement; in practice, it implied that controlling petty crime was just as important as arresting the kingpins. 

Last November I had the honor to address an Amherst College seminar on the same program with Professor Wilson. He looked well and spoke with energy; no-one who heard him there would have guessed that leukemia would fell him within months. I had meant but did not manage to ask him a question: what would he advise Mexico, which has failed to stop the drug cartels’ reign of terror? 

Mexico does what Wilson debunked a generation ago, that is, concentrate on kingpins. But after nearly 50,000 drug-related deaths in the last five years, the problem is worse than before. “The government’s focus on killing or detaining cartel leaders has led younger, more violent criminals into the market,” the New York Times wrote March 18 in a story on Mexican lawlessness, adding, “Many areas now veer toward lawlessness: in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, the chance of a crime’s leading to trial and sentencing was less than 1 percent in 2010, according to government figures analyzed by a Mexican research institute known as Cidac. And since then, experts say, attempts at reform have stalled as crime and impunity have become cozy partners.” 

Libertarians used to argue that arresting criminals was futile as long as crime paid, because there always would be someone willing to take the job; the only remedy, they added, was to legalize drugs, bring down the price and eliminate the economic incentive. The trouble is that the Mexican gangs do not restrict their predations to drugs, as the frightful incidence of kidnapping makes clear. As head of Richard Nixon’s commission on illegal drugs in 1972, Wilson engaged in a celebrated polemic with the economist Milton Friedman over drug legalization. Rather than accept legalization, Wilson proposed to refocus law enforcement. 

It worked, but at dreadful cost. America has the world’s highest incarceration rate at 743 per 100,000 of population and holds a quarter of all the prison inmates in the world. And the prison population disproportionately includes minorities. A third of African-Americans between the ages of 20 and 30 have passed through the criminal justice system in 1995, according to the Sentencing Project, a prisoners’ advocacy group. According to the Sentencing Project, “More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For black males in their twenties, one in every eight is in prison or jail on any given day”. 

Controlling crime crushed a generation of African-Americans. Murder is the leading cause of death among young African-American men; an American black has a 5% lifetime probably of becoming a murder victim (against a 0.7% probably for a white American). The legal scholar Michelle Alexander observes that “there are more African Americans under correctional control – in prison, jail, or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.” 

The bad news is always the good news. There are fewer crimes because more criminals are in jail. A great deal is made over the fact that a million of America’s 7.3 million prison inmates were convicted of non-violent (mainly drug-related) crimes. It is much easier to convict a dealer for selling a modest amount of drugs to an undercover police officer, though, than to catch the dealer in a violent act. Drug gangs are violent criminal conspiracies, and most of the prison inmates convicted of selling drugs promoted such violence. 

That was Wilson’s genius, although he never quite took credit for it this way. Contrary to what the libertarians argued, you can control the population of prospective criminals – not by going after the top, where there always is room, but by waging a war of attrition at the bottom. In the past I compared the war on drugs to the American Civil War, which was won by killing off such a large proportion of military-age Southern men (nearly 30%) that the Confederate Army lacked soldiers to put into the ranks. That was the most heroic thing America ever did. 

That is the United States, where the number of young people sufficiently poor to risk life and limb in criminal activity is comparatively small. What happens in a poor country with a much larger proportion of unemployment youth? Mexico’s incarceration rate is just 200 per 100,000 population, roughly a quarter of America’s. To attack criminality from the bottom up rather than the top down would imply a social dislocation of catastrophic proportions. 

In 2010, one of Mexico’s most prominent public intellectuals, Enrique Krauze, compared today’s drug violence to the 1910 revolution, which killed 8% of the country’s people. He wrote, “Every 100 years, Mexico seems to have a rendezvous with violence. We are enduring another violent crisis, albeit one that differs greatly from those of a century and two centuries ago.In 2010, Mexico is again convulsed with violence, though the size and scope of today’s conflict does not even remotely approach that of 1810 or 1910. This war is unfolding within and between gangs of criminals, who commit violent acts that are fueled only by a competitive lust for money. This is strikingly different from the revolutions of 1810 or 1910, which were clashes of ideals.” 

What 2012 has in common with 1912, though, is the large number of very poor people without economic prospects. America’s great recession has had a disproportionate impact on unskilled workers, and a devastating impact on illegal immigrants. Only two-fifths of working-age Americans without a high-school diploma have jobs, and only 45% are counted in the labor force, while 72% of Americans with a four-year college degree or better have jobs. For Mexican migrants, legal or otherwise, the shutdown of the construction industry has been devastating. America always represented a safety valve for Mexico’s unemployed. It no longer does, nor will it for the foreseeable future. 

America’s recession, to be sure, is not Mexico’s only, or even its worst problem. Mexico’s economy is one of the world’s most cartelized, emblemized by the curious fact that the world’s richest man (the telephone czar Carlos Slim) comes from a poor country where the cost of a telephone call is a multiple of the cost in the United States. The high cost of telephony counts among the many barriers to entry that keep a third of the Mexican economy off the books. Economic reforms would ameliorate the problem, but slowly and over a long period of time. 

It is questionable whether any Latin American government can deliberately reduce the criminal element in its own population. Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori will remain in prison for decades after his 2008 conviction stemming from the use of death squads against the “Shining Path” guerrillas. And Fujimori had a relatively free hand during the 1990s because the guerrillas’ main support came from indigenous people in rural areas, where street justice is hard to document. 

Nonetheless, if it is to break the hold of criminal gangs on many of its cities, Mexico has no choice but to take a page from James Q Wilson’s book. To undertake the Herculean labor of suppressing criminality from the bottom will have terrible consequences, as in Enrique Krauze’s chilling analogy to the 1910 Revolution. The only thing worse is the alternative. It is not enough to arrest the drug lords; it is also necessary to attrite the ranks of their gunmen. How much will it cost? If you have to ask what it costs, you can’t afford to be a country. 

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Toowas published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It’s Not the End of the World – It’s Just the End of Youalso appeared this fall, from Van Praag Press. 

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The Mexican Election and the Split on the Left

The Mexican Election and the Split on the Left

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