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Topic: Mexico-US matters (Read 75828 times)
POTB: Vigilante Movement in Guerrero, elsewhere
Reply #500 on:
April 12, 2013, 02:54:36 PM »
MEXICO UNDER SIEGE
Worry grows over Mexico vigilante movement
Armed citizen patrols fighting drug cartel violence join forces with a radical teachers union in Guerrero state opposed to an education reform law.
Citizen vigilantes stand at the entrance to Tierra Colorada, in Guerrero state on Mexico's Pacific Coast. A federal official called the decision by the anti-drug-cartel vigilantes to join in political protests a “Molotov cocktail.” (Bernardino Hernandez / Associated Press / March 27, 2013)
By Richard Fausset and Cecilia Sanchez, Los Angeles Times
April 11, 2013, 4:08 p.m.
MEXICO CITY — Debate is intensifying over armed vigilante patrols that have sprung up in crime-plagued sections of rural Mexico, particularly in the state of Guerrero, where some patrols joined forces this week with a radical teachers union that has been wreaking havoc with massive protests, vandalism and violent confrontations with police.
The two groups, on the surface, would appear to have little in common. The vigilante patrols, typically made up of masked campesinos, are among dozens that have emerged in the countryside in recent months, purporting to protect their communities from the depredations of the drug cartels. The state-level teachers union, meanwhile, has taken to the streets to protest a sweeping education reform law backed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Their alliance was announced in a joint meeting Sunday. A leader of the vigilantes said they were joining with the teachers because it was the vigilantes' "watchword to fight against injustice."
The groups took part in their first joint demonstration this week in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state, which is home to the well-known resort city of Acapulco. The vigilantes apparently chose to march unarmed, and there were no reports of serious trouble.
But there is concern that an already-volatile series of political protests may take on a violent edge.
Before the alliance was announced, stick- and pipe-wielding members of the union, known as the State Coordinating Committee of Guerrero Education Workers, three times had blocked the key freeway connecting Mexico City and Acapulco, disrupting commerce during Acapulco's crucial spring break season.
Last week, some of the union protesters attacked federal police with homemade weapons as officers removed them from the road, according to police reports carried by Notimex, the state news agency. According to police, 15 officers were injured.
The vigilantes' decision to participate in political protests is an "unpleasant Molotov cocktail," Francisco Arroyo, president of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, told reporters Tuesday. "A state that permits its citizens to arm themselves in order to achieve justice by their own hand is a failed state."
In general, the idea of aggrieved campesinos taking up arms and demanding justice resonates deeply in the national mythos, and the vigilantes have been embraced in some quarters. In January, Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre proposed giving salaries and uniforms to a group that patrols the city of Ayutla.
There have been problems, however. In February, a group in the Guerrero community of Las Mesas shot and injured two tourists headed to the beach who failed to stop at a vigilante roadblock. In March, federal authorities announced the arrest of 34 members of a self-defense group in the neighboring state of Michoacan, alleging they were connected to the drug cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
The newspaper Reforma counted vigilante groups in 27 of Guerrero's 81 municipalities. The Peña Nieto government, which took power in December, has downplayed their presence as the administration tries to move the focus in Mexico away from the country's persistent violence and toward a package of reforms — including the controversial education reform law — that it hopes will spur a golden age of economic growth.
Peña Nieto was visiting Japan this week, hoping to drum up investment. At a news conference Tuesday, he was asked about the developments in Guerrero. He said the vigilantes' effort to take justice into their own hands was "beyond legality" and one "that my government will have to fight."
On Wednesday, protest leaders said their new group, which includes students and union members, would be called the Guerreran Popular Movement. On Thursday, hundreds of protesters again blocked the freeway to Acapulco.
Aguirre, the governor, told a reporter that he refused to be intimidated.
Sanchez is a news assistant in The Times' Mexico City bureau.
Re: Mexico-US matters
Reply #501 on:
April 16, 2013, 02:09:53 PM »
MEXICO - Violence recedes under Peña Nieto administration
On 10 April 2013, Governance Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong presented the results of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s first security evaluation, confirming a reduction in violence. According to Osorio Chong, between the periods of August to November 2012 and December 2012 to March 2013, homicides decreased 17 percent and kidnapping dropped by 25 percent.
Rising Violence in Cancun
Reply #502 on:
April 18, 2013, 06:45:04 AM »
The Gulf Cartel Enters a Tourist Hub
A series of drug-related killings in Cancun over the past week is the latest sign of an escalating turf war as the Gulf cartel tries to expand its presence in the popular tourist destination. Authorities on April 14 discovered the bodies of seven people, all apparently strangled, in the backyard of a residence in the 102 region of the city. The residence was reportedly used for retail drug sales. The high number of victims, once atypical for Cancun, comes a month after a March 14 attack on a bar in Cancun where seven people were killed.
While there are no indications that the current turf war in Cancun will directly affect bystanders or tourists not participating in criminal activities, the killings will likely place additional pressure on security forces in Cancun, possibly distracting law enforcement from preventing the kind of petty crimes more likely to affect tourists.
One possible explanation for the uptick in Gulf cartel activity is that a faction of Los Zetas in Cancun recently broke away from the parent organization and declared itself to be part of the Gulf cartel. Because the Gulf cartel is a far less cohesive and hierarchical organization than other cartels such as the Sinaloa Federation, the Gulf cartel operating in Cancun may or may not be coordinating with the factions in northeastern Mexico.
Regardless of how the Gulf cartel's presence grew to the point of driving the inter-cartel conflict in Cancun, any resulting violence will force municipal, state and federal authorities to redirect their focus. As part of the effort to reinforce security in Cancun, the Quintana Roo state government announced April 15 the deployment of 150 additional state police officers. Still, should violence continue to rise and put additional pressure on security forces, petty crimes more likely to affect bystanders or visitors such as theft or extortion may increase, which in turn could damage Cancun's main industry if enough tourists are deterred.
Threats Against Foreign Companies in Michoacan
On April 15, unidentified individuals distributed pamphlets, ostensibly signed "Knights Templar," in various areas of Apatzingan, Michoacan state. The message on the pamphlets warned commercial vendors as well as specific companies to stop delivering goods to Buenavista Tomatlan and Tepalcatepec, two municipalities west of Apatzingan near the Jalisco state border. Among the companies mentioned is PepsiCo subsidiary Sabritas, which was the target of coordinated attacks by the Knights Templar in May 2012.
The next day, narcomantas appeared in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, as well as Apatzingan warning that the community police operating in Michoacan -- particularly Buenavista Tomatlan -- belong to the Knights Templar's principal rival in the region, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
It is still not clear whether the Knights Templar are the actual authors of the April 15 and April 16 messages, but, as noted above, the criminal organization has targeted companies such as Sabritas in the past. In addition to questions about the authorship of the narcomantas, it is unclear whether the message they contained about Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion infiltrating the community police in Buenavista Tomatlan is true. Even if those rumors are unfounded, the Knights Templar may believe them to be true, which could lead to continued attacks against individuals residing in the stated municipalities as well as businesses operating in the region. Therefore, the threats against vendors and multinational corporations such as Sabritas likely signal an intent to target businesses in the area and should not be disregarded.
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region and designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit
Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Rising Violence in Cancun | Stratfor
Balkanization leads to regional challenges
Reply #503 on:
April 18, 2013, 08:15:32 AM »
Second post of the morning
Mexico's Drug War: Balkanization Leads to Regional Challenges
April 18, 2013 | 0911 GMT
Editor's Note: This Security Weekly assesses the most significant cartel-related developments of the first quarter of 2013 and provides updated profiles of Mexico's powerful criminal cartels, as well as a forecast for the rest of this year. It's the executive summary of a more detailed report available to clients of our Mexico Security Monitor service.
Balkanization of Cartels
Since the late 1980s demise of the Guadalajara cartel, which controlled drug trade routes into the United States through most of Mexico, Mexican cartels have followed a trend of fracturing into more geographically compact, regional crime networks. This trend, which we are referring to as "Balkanization," has continued for more than two decades and has impacted all of the major cartel groups in Mexico. Indeed the Sinaloa Federation lost significant assets when the organizations run by Beltran Leyva and Ignacio Coronel split away from it. Los Zetas, currently the other most powerful cartel in Mexico, was formed when it split off from the Gulf cartel in 2010. Still these two organizations have fought hard to resist the trend of fracturing and have been able to grow despite being affected by it. This led to the polarized dynamic observed in 2011 when these two dominant Mexican cartels effectively split Mexican organized crime in two, with one group composed of Los Zetas and its allies and the other composed of the Sinaloa Federation and its allies.
This trend toward polarization has since been reversed, however, as Balkanization has led to rising regional challenges to both organizations since 2012. Most notable among these is the split between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation. The Sinaloa Federation continues to struggle with regional crime groups for control in western Chihuahua state, northern Sinaloa state, Jalisco state and northern Sonora state. Similarly, Los Zetas saw several regional challengers in 2012. Two regional groups saw sharp increases in their operational capabilities during 2012 and through the first quarter of 2013. These were the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar.
The Beltran Leyva Organization provides another example of the regionalization of Mexican organized crime. It has become an umbrella of autonomous, and in some cases conflicting, groups. Many of the groups that emerged from it control specific geographic areas and fight among each other largely in isolation from the conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation. Many of these successor crime groups, such as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos are currently fighting for their own geographic niches. As its name implies, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco mostly acts in Acapulco, while Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos mostly act in Morelos state.
The ongoing fragmentation of Mexican cartels is not likely to reverse, at least not in the next few years. Despite this, while Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation continue to face new rivals and suffer from internal splintering, their resources are not necessarily declining. Neither criminal organization faces implosion or a substantial decline as a transnational criminal organization as a result of rising regional challengers. Both Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation continue to extend their drug trafficking operations on a transnational level, increasing both their influence and profits. Still, they will continue to face the new reality, in which they are forced to work with -- or fight -- regional groups.
In Hidalgo state, a former Zetas stronghold, the Knights Templar have made significant inroads, although violence has not risen to the level of that in the previously mentioned states. Also, the turf war within Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas that began when Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel in 2010 continues.
In light of Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero's dissent from Los Zetas and the death of former leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano, Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales could face organizational integrity issues during 2013. Signs of such issues appeared in Cancun during the first quarter when some members of Los Zetas reportedly broke from the group and adopted the Gulf cartel name. Besides possible minor dissent, a seemingly new rival has emerged in Tabasco state to counter Los Zetas. A group called Pueblo Unido Contra la Delincuencia, Spanish for "People United Against Crime," carried out a series of executions in Tabasco state throughout the first quarter, but the group's origins and significance remain unclear. No indicators of substantial splintering among Los Zetas have emerged since the Velazquez split.
Regional organizations continued to challenge the Sinaloa Federation on its turf in western Chihuahua state, northern Sinaloa state and Jalisco state through the first quarter. Intercartel violence in mountainous western Chihuahua continues as the Sinaloa Federation fights La Linea for control of the region's smuggling routes and drug cultivation areas. Los Mazatlecos so far has maintained its control over northern Sinaloa cities, such as Los Mochis and Guasave. It also has continued violent incursions into southern areas of Sinaloa state, such as Mazatlan, Concordia and El Rosario with its ally Los Zetas.
At the beginning of 2012, Gulf cartel territory appeared likely to be absorbed by larger cartels -- essentially signaling the end of the Gulf cartel. Support from the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar combined with fractures within Los Zetas allowed a Gulf cartel resurgence, leading to a renewed Gulf assault on Los Zetas in the northeastern states of Mexico. The resurgence ended with a series of notable arrests during the last quarter of 2012, such as that of former top leader Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez. The arrests triggered additional Gulf cartel infighting, which peaked in March 2013.
The escalated infighting in the Gulf cartel, particularly in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, highlighted the new state of the Gulf cartel: Instead of operating as a cohesive criminal network, the Gulf cartel now consists of factions linked by history and the Gulf label. The infighting began in 2010 after the death of former top Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel "Tony Tormenta" Cardenas Guillen. The death of Cardenas Guillen split the Gulf cartel into two main factions, Los Rojos and Los Metros. By the first quarter of 2013, infighting had broken out between Los Metros leaders, such as Mario "Pelon" Ramirez Trevino, David "Metro 4" Salgado and Miguel "El Gringo" Villarreal. This suggests the Gulf cartel is further fractured and no longer consists of just two opposing sides. The Gulf cartel may begin acting as a cohesive network during the second quarter after the escalated infighting in March, though this cannot be definitely predicted.
From March 10 to March 19, Reynosa became the focal point for Gulf cartel infighting as Ramirez Trevino escalated his conflict against Villarreal. Ramirez Trevino reportedly expelled Villarreal's faction and its allies from the Reynosa plaza and killed Salgado. This could mean Ramirez Trevino has consolidated control over other Gulf cartel factions. If true, this would represent a substantial shift in organized criminal operations in northeastern Tamaulipas state, where the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar smuggle drugs, people and other illicit commodities through the border towns of Reynosa and Matamoros while Los Zetas maintain a constant interest in fighting for control of the stated cities.
As mentioned during the last annual update, Gulf cartel factions are increasingly reliant on Sinaloa Federation and Knights Templar support to defend the remaining Gulf cartel territory in Tamaulipas state from Los Zetas. This certainly remains true after the first quarter, although the recent shift from Gulf cartel infighting may signal a shift in intercartel dynamics. Since the Gulf cartel in reality consists of separate factions, there is likely a separate relationship between each Gulf cartel faction and the larger criminal organizations reportedly in alignment with them. With Ramirez Trevino now in charge of Reynosa, a city valued by both the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar, his existing relationship with the two organizations will likely influence their strategies for maintaining their interests in Gulf cartel-controlled areas. Additionally, it is not yet clear whether Ramirez Trevino suffered any substantial losses during the March fighting in Reynosa. If he did lose some capabilities fighting Los Zetas in Tamaulipas state, or if he has challenged a faction loyal to either the Sinaloa Federation or the Knights Templar, either organization would likely have to use its own gunmen for defending Gulf cartel-controlled areas or mounting their own incursions into Zetas territory, particularly Nuevo Laredo.
Intercartel violence in the Gulf cartel-controlled city of Reynosa will likely diminish compared to the first quarter of 2013 if Ramirez Trevino has indeed won. This reduction in violence will continue only as long as Ramirez Trevino is able to hold his control over Reynosa. Influence from external organizations, such as Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar, could once again spark violence if Ramirez Trevino's efforts have harmed their trafficking operations through Reynosa or presented a new opportunity to seize control. What, if any, Gulf cartel infighting is ongoing is difficult to gauge.
Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion
The severing of the relationship between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation came to the forefront of conflicts in the Pacific states of Michoacan and Jalisco during the first quarter of 2013. The Sinaloa Federation relied on its alliance with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in defending the critical location of Guadalajara from Los Zetas and used the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as an assault force into Los Zetas strongholds, such as Veracruz state.
Although evidence of the rift between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation began to appear in open-source reporting during the last half of 2012, the conflict between the two organizations only became clear when the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion went on the offensive in Jalisco state by attacking Sinaloa Federation allies Los Coroneles, the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel.
With a now-fully independent Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the polarization of warring cartels in Mexico has effectively ended. In addition to the existing conflicts between the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation must now focus on reclaiming an operational hold over Jalisco state from the now-rival Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. The second quarter will continue to see a conflict between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Sinaloa Federation-aligned groups in Jalisco state as well as neighboring states like Michoacan.
The Knights Templar experienced intensified conflict during the first quarter from their principal rival, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. In an effort to combat the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the Knights Templar have allied with other Sinaloa Federation-aligned groups, the Gulf cartel and Los Coroneles, referring to themselves as "Los Aliados" to fight the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion within Jalisco. Violence as a result of this alliance against the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has been most notable in the Guadalajara metropolitan area as well as towns lying on highways 15 and 90, which connect to Guadalajara.
In addition to the Knights Templar offensive into Jalisco state, the group is currently defending its stronghold of Michoacan state. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion also has conducted violent assaults against the Knights Templar in Michoacan, particularly on routes leading from Jalisco state toward Apatzingan, Michoacan state. This assault has increased intercartel violence along the border of the two states as part of a tit-for-tat dynamic.
Citizens of Buenavista Tomatlan, Michoacan state, a municipality lying amid territory contested by the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar, have recently set up a community police force to counter Knights Templar operations in the municipality. As in some other areas of Mexico, this community police force is a volunteer force that assumed law enforcement responsibilities independent of the Mexican government. The community police, while established to thwart the Knights Templar, have created tension between the communities of Buenavista Tomatlan and the government. On March 8, the Mexican military detained approximately 34 members of the community police force that had been created in February in Buenavista Tomatlan.
The Buenavista Tomatlan arrests occurred after the community police took over the municipal police station March 4 and detained the municipal police chief, who the Mexican military later freed. Notably, the Mexican government claimed at least 30 of the detained community police belonged to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. If true, this suggests it has made territorial gains to the point of infiltrating the community police. However, there has been no confirmation on whether the accusations are true. Regardless, the community police force of Buenavista Tomatlan has placed its focus on stopping Knights Templar operations in the area, a focus that could only benefit the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's war with its rivals.
Read more: Mexico's Drug War: Balkanization Leads to Regional Challenges | Stratfor
Arrest of a Torreon Criminal Leader
Reply #504 on:
April 24, 2013, 08:27:44 AM »
Arrest of a Torreon Criminal Leader
Federal police have detained Daniel "El Danny" Garcia Avila, leader of the criminal organization Los Dannys, also known as Cartel del Poniente, in Zacatecas state, Mexican officials announced April 19. Los Dannys are a regional crime group operating in the Comarca Lagunera metropolitan area, which encompasses the cities of Torreon, Coahuila state; Gomez Palacio, Durango state; Lerdo, Durango state; and Matamoros, Coahuila state. While Garcia Avila's arrest could hurt Los Dannys, violence in the area is unlikely to abate.
Though much of the violence in Coahuila is related to a turf war between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation, increasing regional challenges from independent criminal groups like Los Dannys have made a substantial contribution. This regionalization of organized crime has increased the number of actors capable of contesting areas such as Torreon.
According to local authorities, Los Dannys have been responsible for a series of attacks against law enforcement officials in the area, in addition to other high-profile attacks. Whether the arrest of Daniel Garcia Avila will see Los Dannys' ability to operate diminish or whether another capable leader will step in remains unclear. Violence is likely to continue either way, since both Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation remain locked in combat for control of the region.
Violence in Tijuana
Authorities discovered the body of Edwin Jael Valencia Godinez, a leader within a Tijuana-based organized crime group under Jose Luis "El Guero Chompas" Mendoza Uriarte, on April 21 in Tijuana, Baja California state. His death follows the April 17 killing of Victor "El Sargento" Manuel Garcia, a leader of the local crime group Los Talibanes. The executions are part of a sharp increase in organized crime-related violence in Baja California state.
Violence in Tijuana and the rest of Baja California sharply declined after 2008 when the Sinaloa Federation largely bested the Arellano Felix Organization. Since then, the Arellano Felix Organization has maintained control of Tijuana, but in a subordinate role to the Sinaloa Federation. This relationship is by no means permanent. A new challenge to the Sinaloa Federation in Tijuana would not be surprising -- and would reflect another step in the Balkanization of Mexican organized crime.
Violence in Baja California state resulting from warring local criminal cells would harm Sinaloa Federation interests by drawing additional law enforcement attention to the lucrative border city of Tijuana. Indeed, unconfirmed Mexican media reports stated that Sinaloa Federation leader Ismael "Mayo" Zambada Garcia has ordered his lieutenants operating in Tijuana to halt the increase in violence. If correct, this shows a lack of control by Sinaloa Federation, since violence has not subsided. However, should the violence prove to be direct challenges to the Sinaloa Federation, then violence could intensify even more. Tijuana provides a critical port of entry into the United States, meaning the Sinaloa Federation would do everything it could to defend its operations in the area.
Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Torreon Leader Arrested, Violence in Tijuana | Stratfor
POTH: Lady Profeco
Reply #505 on:
April 30, 2013, 03:39:16 PM »
MEXICO CITY — Andrea Benítez simply did what many rich, connected Mexicans have always done: she used her influence to step on the lower born. Witnesses said that when she was not given the table she wanted on Friday at Maximo Bistrot, a popular Mexico City restaurant, she called in inspectors who worked for her father at the country’s main consumer protection agency to shut it down.
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“Dreadful service,” she wrote on Twitter, before announcing she had arrived at the agency to complain. “They have no manners.”
What followed, however, caught much of Mexico by surprise. Instead of enjoying the perks of privilege, Ms. Benítez and her father have become the targets of a broad and swift social media campaign — with tens of thousands of Tweets condemning them — that led the president’s office on Monday to announce a formal investigation into allegations of abuse of power.
This kind of response, it must be said, is exceedingly rare in Mexico. Murders are routinely ignored by the authorities here, and increasingly by senior officials who would prefer to discuss other topics. But the food at Maximo Bistrot apparently has the capacity to ignite public rage and government action like little else.
To many of its fans, the restaurant is the Chez Panisse of Mexico City, a gastro-paradise of fresh ingredients delivered with innovation for (relatively) affordable prices, in a simple dining room often populated by stars, from Mexican actors to visiting luminaries like Patti Smith. It is one of many new restaurants here that have sought to reinvent Mexican cuisine, taking advantage of both a booming economy and the fact that food is an economic exception — one of the only industries where Mexico’s monopolistic tendencies do not hold sway.
Many of the restaurant’s regular patrons said the young Ms. Benítez clearly miscalculated by assuming that all the smartphone owners at dinner would let her get away with such behavior.
“It’s such blatant corruption that’s right in our faces,” said Max St. Romain, 42, a filmmaker who saw the inspectors slap an enormous “suspension of activities” sticker on Maximo Bistrot on Friday night. “It’s a connection to the corruption that ruled Mexico for decades — the fact that a child of someone in power can use it just on a whim, on a tantrum.”
Twitter users immediately gave Ms. Benítez a hashtag: #LadyProfeco. Profeco is the abbreviated version of the office that her father directs, and “Lady” referred back to another recent incident labeled #LadiesDePolanco — when some drunken young women in the posh neighborhood of Polanco were caught on video berating police officers for being “salary men.”
As of Sunday evening, Twitter had logged around 42,000 messages referring to #LadyProfeco in every manner of vulgar insult.
Ms. Benítez’s father, Humberto Benítez Treviño, eventually apologized, releasing a statement declaring that his daughter had exaggerated, prompting inspectors to overreact.
The Net vigilantism, nonetheless, has not let up. Few of the Benítezes’ critics seem to expect a real investigation, so they are again turning to digital outrage and humor. One artist even turned Lady Profeco into a satirical comic book heroine.
“Is there a business that’s given you bad service?” she is depicted as saying on the cover. “Talk to me and I’ll tell my daddy to shut it down.”
real life "Traffic"
Reply #506 on:
April 30, 2013, 08:20:34 PM »
The movie "Traffic" tells the story of a Mexican informant who helps the U.S. fight drug trafficking from Mexico. But there are many details in the film that aren't at all like the reality of the life of Luis Octavio López Vega, an informant abandoned by the Americans and sought by Mexican authorities who accuse him of colluding in narcotics trafficking. Watch this video about the differences between Hollywood and real life in the Drug War.
Challenges to Knights Templar in Michoacan
Reply #507 on:
May 09, 2013, 09:56:43 AM »
Mexico Security Memo: Challenges to the Knights Templar in Michoacan
The conflict between the Knights Templar and the self-defense groups, also commonly referred to as community police, continues to escalate with violent acts and Knights Templar propaganda in Michoacan state near the border with Jalisco state. The Buenavista Tomatlan and Tepalcatepec municipalities have experienced the quickest increases in violence, extortion and embargos on local industries due to the ongoing conflict between Knights Templar and the self-defense groups.
On May 5, authorities discovered several narcomantas in Apatzingan, which is connected to both aforementioned municipalities by Highway 120 to the east. The messages denounced the self-defense groups, claiming they are associated with Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the now-principal rival of the Knights Templar in states such as Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato and Guerrero. Regardless of any validity behind the messages, the focus on connecting the self-defense groups to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion shows an increasing urgency for the Knights Templar to defend their stronghold state from Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the expanding self-defense groups in Mexican communities.
The self-defense groups emerged in Buenavista Tomatlan in February as a response to escalating conflict between the Knights Templar and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Since then, Knights Templar propaganda has shifted its focus from targeting Los Zetas to targeting the self-defense groups. During 2012, Los Zetas were the primary rival for the Knights Templar because they continually threatened Knights Templar routes to the United States through northeastern Mexico. But the conflict with Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion is a more immediate threat to the Knights Templar because of the former's proximity to the Knight's Templar stronghold in Michoacan. Moreover, the appearance of the self-defense groups brought additional challenges for the group.
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In addition to propaganda and violent assaults, the Knights Templar have attempted to impose embargos on the municipalities that host self-defense groups in Michoacan. On April 15, unidentified individuals distributed pamphlets, ostensibly signed by the Knights Templar, in various areas of Apatzingan, Michoacan state. The message on the pamphlets warned vendors in general and some companies in particular to stop delivering goods to Buenavista Tomatlan and Tepalcatepec.
Regardless of the validity of the claims that self-defense groups are colluding with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the groups augment the threat that the neighboring cartel poses to the Knights Templar. Additionally, the self-defense groups' ability to police their respective communities competes with the publicly stated intent of the Knights Templar to provide public services in the communities in which they operate. Should more self-defense groups also countering Knights Templar interests emerge in Michoacan, the cartel could expect to lose some freedom to maneuver in its local criminal enterprises within its stronghold.
It does not appear that the Knights Templar are in immediate danger of losing significant territory. However, it is likely the operations of self-defense groups in Michoacan state have favored the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in their current conflict with Knights Templar. Because of this, violence in Michoacan state, particularly west of Apatzingan, will likely continue at current levels and could further escalate if more self-defense groups emerge or if existing ones improve in their tactical capabilities.
Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Challenges to the Knights Templar in Michoacan | Stratfor
Re: Mexico-US matters
Reply #508 on:
May 11, 2013, 11:12:04 AM »
A remarkable clip about Mormon colonies in Chihuahau fighting the narcos and their connections to Mitt Romney.
WSJ: Mexico: Where teachers take hostages
Reply #509 on:
May 13, 2013, 07:12:42 PM »
Mexico, Where Teachers Take Hostages
President Enrique Peña Nieto needs to show the country that he will defend the rule of law.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.
WSJ's "Americas" columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady talks with James Freeman about the tension between teachers unions in Mexico and newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto. Photo: Associated Press.
The Mexican standoff, now a week old, is only the latest example of a teacher-union rebellion against recent amendments to the Mexican constitution aimed at improving public education.
Institutional Revolutionary Party President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it a priority to fix the broken public-education system. But eager reformers are often tested by politically powerful interests in their first year in office. The teachers believe they can make him back down.
Over the 71 consecutive years that the PRI ruled Mexico until 2000, it earned a reputation for heavy-handedness bordering on repression. Now that it is finally back in power, there is pressure on Mr. Peña Nieto to show that his party is kinder and gentler. This may tempt him to tolerate union violence. But the recent constitutional amendments increase transparency and accountability and depoliticize education. This is the change the PRI needs to show the public it supports.
It's easy to see why teachers are up in arms over the amendments. For the first time ever they will be vetted in a comprehensive process that includes proficiency exams. Lifetime tenure will no longer be guaranteed from the day a teacher graduates from a teaching college. Teachers will not be allowed to pass their tenured posts to relatives, the prevalent practice of selling a teaching post will be outlawed, and promotions will require evaluation. In short, teaching is to be like a real job, where performance matters.
Accountability is a foreign concept for many who go into teaching, which explains why teaching students are part of the rebellion. In April, violence broke out in Chilpancingo, the state capital of Guerrero, when the state legislature refused a request by activists to reject the new evaluation process. Union thugs vandalized property. They also blocked the highway that runs from Mexico City, through Chilpancingo, to Acapulco, with serious economic consequences. Most teachers unions at least pretend to care about their students. Many striking teachers in Mexico just walked off the job, leaving children and parents in the lurch.
Mr. Peña Nieto is leading a nation that long ago outgrew the labor laws that govern teaching. When the North American Free Trade Agreement was born in 1994, many expected Mexico to use it to become a magnet for low-skill, low-tech industries. But openness raises living standards, and destinations outside of Nafta soon became more attractive for investors seeking low-wage labor.
Mexico naturally moved up the food chain. Today it increasingly hosts middle- and high-tech industries, including aerospace. According to the ministry of the economy, "There are over 190 companies within the aerospace industry operating in Mexico, employing nearly 30,000 workers" and the aerospace market is undergoing "rapid growth."
Will Mexico have the human capital needed for that growth and the other economic changes that will accompany it? The education ministry claims that every year 90,000 Mexicans complete graduate programs in engineering and technology. But the public-education system could hold the country back.
In very poor countries, access to education is the first hurdle to clear. But step two, which Mexico now faces, is the quality challenge. Claudio X. González, president of Mexicanos Primero (Mexicans First), a nongovernmental organization, is working to build public support for reform. He says "only one quarter of each generation finishes high school," and only "10% finish their college degree." What is more, "up to 80% of each generation fails or barely passes international tests in reading comprehension, math and science."
Mexico ranks 34th out of the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in basic education achievement. Mexicanos Primero reports that Guerrero, Oaxaca and Michoácan, where much of the union violence has taken place, have the nation's worst secondary-education outcomes.
Notes Mr. González: "No country in the OECD spends as much on education, as a percentage of GDP, as Mexico. Still, we have no reliable registry of teachers and close to 160,000 people [are paid] a salary as teachers but never step into a classroom."
Mexico's elected representatives have voted to reform a corporatist education model built in the 1930s. Now the state is charged with enforcing the change. It should also prosecute vandals and kidnappers. If it does, it won't only defend the interest of millions of children but it will also be a step closer to implementing the rule of law in a country where it is sorely lacking.
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Mexico Security Memo: A New Conflict in Northern Sinaloa
May 15, 2013 | 0730 Print - Text Size +
Recent body dumps and targeted attacks in northern parts of Sinaloa state reveal an unfolding conflict among regional organized criminal groups with backing from some of Mexico's major cartels. Since April, media outlets have attributed at least two body dumps in Los Mochis, Ahome municipality's largest city, to a group calling itself La Mochomera. The group's origins and allegiances remain unclear, but the escalating violence in the state suggests that a new challenge to Los Mazatlecos -- the current dominant organization in Ahome -- is underway.
According to social media reports, La Mochomera is a remnant of the former Beltran Leyva Organization, a Sinaloa-based cartel that split in 2009. The group has reportedly been fighting Los Mazatlecos, another Beltran Leyva Organization remnant that wrested control of parts of northern Sinaloa state over the past year. In 2012, Los Mazatlecos emerged as a regional challenger to Sinaloa Federation in Sinaloa state, and the group operates in some of the few areas in the state outside of Sinaloa's control.
The ability of Los Mazatlecos to counter the far stronger the Sinaloa Federation has been partly a result of its cooperation with La Linea and Los Zetas, two of the Sinaloa Federation's principal rivals. Before the breakup of the Beltran Leyva Organization, Los Zetas allied with some of the cartel's leaders, including Alfredo Beltran Leyva. Since the split, Los Zetas have maintained a working relationship with many of the remnant groups, most notably Los Mazatlecos, whose operations in Sinaloa state have allowed Los Zetas to make occasional incursions into territories controlled by the Sinaloa Federation and afforded access to the Sierra Madre Occidental, a lucrative region for illicit drug production.
But the recent violence in Ahome indicates that La Mochomera is distinct from Los Mazatlecos. On April 20, authorities discovered six bodies inside an abandoned vehicle in Los Mochis, along with a narcomanta signed ostensibly by "El Dos Letras," presumably the nickname of the leader of La Mochomera. The message contained a threat to Ahome police chief Jesus Carrasco Ruiz and accused him of colluding with organized criminals. Then on May 4, authorities discovered another six bodies near Los Mochis and another narcomanta apparently signed by El Dos Letras. On May 9, a group of gunmen in Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, a community in Guasave municipality, ambushed a convoy ferrying the police chief to the city of Culiacan along Highway 15.
In light of the recent threats against Carrasco Ruiz and the Ahome police, the May 9 attack can likely be linked to the body dumps on April 20 and May 4. The ability to ambush an armored police convoy with a high number of gunmen suggests the involvement of a more substantial regional criminal group, rather than a local gang. Thus, La Mochomera could be receiving support from an outside organization looking to counter Los Mazatlecos. It is also possible that the new group splintered from Los Mazatlecos or perhaps is a Los Mazatlecos faction still working to defend the group's territory.
Stratfor has been unable to confirm whether the escalating conflict in northern Sinaloa state is indeed between La Mochomera and Los Mazatlecos as reported. If La Mochomera is aligned with or a part of Los Mazatlecos, then the recent violence could be the result of defensive operations against a rival, likely the Sinaloa Federation. If La Mochomera is challenging Los Mazatlecos, Los Zetas will likely respond to ensure its capabilities to conduct operations in the state and the Sierra Madre Occidental and to counter the Sinaloa Federation in the rival cartels' nationwide conflict. This would prolong high levels of violence for the foreseeable future.
Editor's note: As part of a refocusing of our Mexico coverage to include more analysis of the geopolitical, economic and energy-related issues affecting the country, Stratfor is discontinuing publication of our weekly Mexico Security Memo. We will continue to publish analyses pertaining to the security situation in Mexico, but we will do so when events warrant the coverage rather than simply once a week.
If you need access to more detailed intelligence and analysis on the security situation in Mexico, we will continue to offer a number of products and services specifically on that topic, including our Mexico Security Monitor, which you can subscribe to here. As always, we want your feedback. Please let us know what you think of our expanded coverage by sending an email to
Read more: Mexico Security Memo: A New Conflict in Northern Sinaloa | Stratfor
Understanding Pena Nieto's Approach to the Cartels
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 04:00 Print - Text Size +
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's approach to combating Mexican drug cartels has been a much-discussed topic since well before he was elected. Indeed, in June 2011 -- more than a year before the July 2012 Mexican presidential election -- I wrote an analysis discussing rumors that, if elected, Pena Nieto was going to attempt to reach some sort of accommodation with Mexico's drug cartels in order to bring down the level of violence.
Such rumors were certainly understandable, given the arrangement that had existed for many years between some senior members of Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party and some powerful cartel figures during the Institutional Revolutionary Party's long reign in Mexico prior to the election of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party in 2000. However, as we argued in 2011 and repeated in March 2013, much has changed in Mexico since 2000, and the new reality in Mexico means that it would be impossible for the Pena Nieto administration to reach any sort of deal with the cartels even if it made an attempt.
But the rumors of the Pena Nieto government reaching an accommodation with some cartel figures such as Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera have persisted, even as the Mexican government arrests key operatives in Guzman's network, such as Ines Coronel Barreras, Guzman's father-in-law, who was arrested May 1 in Agua Prieta, Mexico. Indeed, on April 27, Washington Post reporter Dana Priest published a detailed article outlining how U.S. authorities were fearful that the Mexican government was restructuring its security relationship with the U.S. government so that it could more easily reach an unofficial truce with cartel leaders. Yet four days later, Coronel -- a significant cartel figure -- was arrested in a joint operation between the Mexicans and Americans.
Clearly, there is some confusion on the U.S. side about the approach the Pena Nieto government is taking, but conversations with both U.S. and Mexican officials reveal that these changes in Mexico's approach do not appear to be as drastic as some have feared. There will need to be adjustments on both sides of the border while organizational changes are underway in Mexico, but this does not mean that bilateral U.S.-Mexico cooperation will decline in the long term.
Opportunities and Challenges
Despite the violence that has wracked Mexico over the past decade, the Mexican economy is booming. Arguably, the economy would be doing even better if potential investors were not concerned about cartel violence and street crime -- and if such criminal activity did not have such a significant impact on businesses operating in Mexico.
Because of this, the Pena Nieto administration believes that it is critical to reduce the overall level of violence in the country. Essentially it wants to transform the cartel issue into a law enforcement problem, something handled by the Interior Ministry and the national police, rather than a national security problem handled by the Mexican military and the Center for Research and National Security (Mexico's national-level intelligence agency). In many ways the Pena Nieto administration wants to follow the model of the government of Colombia, which has never been able to stop trafficking in its territory but was able to defeat the powerful Medellin and Cali cartels and relegate their successor organizations to a law enforcement problem.
The Mexicans also believe that if they can attenuate cartel violence, they will be able to free up law enforcement forces to tackle common crime instead of focusing nearly all their resources on containing the cartel wars.
Although the cartels have not yet been taken down to the point of being a law enforcement problem, the Pena Nieto administration wants to continue to signal this shift in approach by moving the focus of its efforts against the cartels to the Interior Ministry. Unlike former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who was seen leading the charge against the cartels during his administration, Pena Nieto wants to maintain some distance from the struggle against the cartels (at least publicly). Pena Nieto seeks to portray the cartels as a secondary issue that does not demand his personal leadership and attention. He can then publicly focus his efforts on issues he deems critically important to Mexico's future, like education reform, banking reform, energy reform and fostering the Mexican economy. This is the most significant difference between the Calderon and Pena Nieto administrations.
Of course it is one thing to say that the cartels have become a secondary issue, and it is quite another to make it happen. The Mexican government still faces some real challenges in reducing the threat posed by the cartels. However, it is becoming clear that the Pena Nieto administration seeks to implement a holistic approach in an attempt to address the problems at the root of the violence that in some ways is quite reminiscent of counterinsurgency policy. The Mexicans view these underlying economic, cultural and sociological problems as issues that cannot be solved with force alone.
Mexican officials in the current government say that the approach the Calderon administration took to fighting the cartels was wrong in that it sought to solve the problem of cartel violence by simply killing or arresting cartel figures. They claim that Calderon's approach did nothing to treat the underlying causes of the violence and that the cartels were able to recruit gunmen faster than the government could kill or capture them. (In some ways this is parallel to the U.S. government's approach in Yemen, where increases in missile strikes from unmanned aerial vehicles have increased, rather than reduced, the number of jihadists there.) In Mexico, when the cartels experienced trouble in recruiting enough gunmen, they were able to readily import them from Central America.
However -- and this is very significant -- this holistic approach does not mean that the Pena Nieto administration wants to totally abandon kinetic operations against the cartels. An important pillar of any counterinsurgency campaign is providing security for the population. But rather than provoke random firefights with cartel gunmen by sending military patrols into cartel hot spots, the Pena Nieto team wants to be more targeted and intentional in its application of force. It seeks to take out the networks that hire and supply the gunmen, not just the gunmen themselves, and this will require all the tools in its counternarcotics portfolio -- not only force, but also things like intelligence, financial action (to target cartel finances), public health, institution building and anti-corruption efforts.
The theory is that by providing security, stability and economic opportunity the government can undercut the cartels' ability to recruit youth who currently see little other options in life but to join the cartels.
To truly succeed, especially in the most lawless areas, the Mexican government is going to have to begin to build institutions -- and public trust in those institutions -- from the ground up. The officials we have talked to hold Juarez up as an example they hope to follow in other locations, though they say they learned a lot of lessons in Juarez that will allow them to streamline their efforts elsewhere. Obviously, before they can begin building, they recognize that they will have to seize, consolidate and hold territory, and this is the role they envision for the newly created gendarmerie, or paramilitary police.
The gendarmerie is important to this rebuilding effort because the military is incapable of serving in an investigative law enforcement role. They are deployed to pursue active shooters and target members of the cartels, but much of the crime affecting Mexico's citizens and companies falls outside the military's purview. The military also has a tendency to be heavy-handed, and reports of human rights abuses are quite common. Transforming from a national security to a law enforcement approach requires the formation of an effective police force that is able to conduct community policing while pursuing car thieves, extortionists, kidnappers and street gangs in addition to cartel gunmen.
Certainly the U.S. government was very involved in the Calderon administration's kinetic approach to the cartel problem, as shown by the very heavy collaboration between the two governments. The collaboration was so heavy, in fact, that some incoming Pena Nieto administration figures were shocked by how integrated the Americans had become. The U.S. officials who told Dana Priest they were uncomfortable with the new Mexican government's approach to cartel violence were undoubtedly among those deeply involved in this process -- perhaps so deeply involved that they could not recognize that in the big picture, their approach was failing to reduce the violence in Mexico. Indeed, from the Mexican perspective, the U.S. efforts have been focused on reducing the flow of narcotics into the United States regardless of the impact of those efforts on Mexico's security environment.
However, as seen by the May 1 arrest of Coronel, which a Mexican official described as a classic joint operation involving the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexican Federal Police, the Mexican authorities do intend to continue to work very closely with their American counterparts. But that cooperation must occur within the new framework established for the anti-cartel efforts. That means that plans for cooperation must be presented through the Mexican Interior Ministry so that the efforts can be centrally coordinated. Much of the current peer-to-peer cooperation can continue, but within that structure.
Consolidation and Coordination
As in the United States, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Mexico have terrible problems with coordination and information sharing. The current administration is attempting to correct this by centralizing the anti-cartel efforts at the federal level and by creating coordination centers to oversee operations in the various regions. These regional centers will collect information at the state and regional level and send it up to the national center. However, one huge factor inhibiting information sharing in Mexico -- and between the Americans and Mexicans -- is the longstanding problem of corruption in the Mexican government. In the past, drug czars, senior police officials and very senior politicians have been accused of being on cartel payrolls. This makes trust critical, and lack of trust has caused some Mexican and most American agencies to restrict the sharing of intelligence to only select, trusted contacts. Centralizing coordination will interfere with this selective information flow in the short term, and it is going to take time for this new coordination effort to earn the trust of both Mexican and American agencies. There remains fear that consolidation will also centralize corruption and make it easier for the cartels to gather intelligence.
Another attempt at command control and coordination is in the Pena Nieto administration's current efforts to implement police consolidation at the state level. While corruption has reached into all levels of the Mexican government, it is unquestionably the most pervasive at the municipal level, and in past government operations entire municipal police departments have been fired for corruption. The idea is that if all police were brought under a unified state command, called "Mando Unico" in Spanish, the police would be better screened, trained and paid and therefore the force would be more professional.
This concept of police consolidation at the state level is not a new idea; indeed, Calderon sought to do so under his administration, but it appears that Pena Nieto might have the political capital to make this happen, along with some other changes that Calderon wanted to implement but could not quite pull off. To date, Pena Nieto has had a great deal of success in garnering political support for his proposals, but the establishment of Mando Unico in each of Mexico's 31 states may perhaps be the toughest political struggle he has faced yet. If realized, Mando Unico will be an important step -- but only one step -- in the long process of institution building for the police at the state level.
Aside from the political struggles, the Mexican government still faces very real challenges on the streets as it attempts to quell violence, reassert control over lawless areas and gain the trust of the public. The holistic plan laid out by the Pena Nieto administration sounds good on paper, but it will still require a great deal of leadership by Pena Nieto and his team to bring Mexico through the challenges it faces. They will obviously need to cooperate with the United States to succeed, but it has become clear that this cooperation will need to be on Mexico's terms and in accordance with the administration's new, holistic approach.
Read more: Understanding Pena Nieto's Approach to the Cartels | Stratfor
U.S., Mexico: The Decline of the Colorado River
May 13, 2013 | 0703 Print - Text Size +
A ring of bleached sandstone caused by low water levels during a six-year drought surrounds Lake Powell, a Colorado River reservoir near Page, Arizona David McNew/Getty Images
An amendment to a standing water treaty between the United States and Mexico has received publicity over the past six months as an example of progress in water sharing agreements. But the amendment, called Minute 319, is simply a glimpse into ongoing mismanagement of the Colorado River on the U.S. side of the border. Over-allocation of the river's waters 90 years ago combined with increasing populations and economic growth in the river basin have created circumstances in which conservation efforts -- no matter how organized -- could be too little to overcome the projected water deficit that the Colorado River Basin will face in the next 20 years.
In 1922, the seven U.S. states in the Colorado River Basin established a compact to distribute the resources of the river. A border between the Upper and Lower basins was defined at Lees Ferry, Ariz. The Upper Basin (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico) was allocated 9.25 billion cubic meters a year, and the Lower Basin (Arizona, California and Nevada) was allotted 10.45 billion cubic meters. Mexico was allowed an unspecified amount, which in 1944 was defined as 1.85 billion cubic meters a year. The Upper and Lower basins -- managed as separate organizations under the supervision of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation -- divided their allocated water among the states in their jurisdictions. Numerous disputes arose, especially in the Lower Basin, regarding proper division of the water resources. But the use of (and disputes over) the Colorado River began long before these treaties.
As the United States' territory expanded to the west, the Colorado River briefly was considered a portal to the isolated frontier of the southwestern United States, since it was often cheaper to take a longer path via water to transport goods and people in the early 19th century. There was a short-lived effort to develop the Colorado River as the "Mississippi of the West." While places like Yuma, Ariz., became military and trading outposts, the geography and erratic flow of the Colorado made the river ultimately unsuitable for mass transportation. Navigating the river often required maneuvering around exposed sand banks and through shallow waters. The advent of the railroad ended the need for river transport in the region. Shortly thereafter, large and ambitious management projects, including the Hoover Dam, became the river's main purpose.
Irrigation along the river started expanding in the second half of the 19th century, and agriculture still consumes more water from the Colorado than any other sector. Large-scale manipulation of the river began in the early 20th century, and now there are more than 20 major dams along the Colorado River, along with reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and large canals that bring water to areas of the Imperial and Coachella valleys in southern California for irrigation and municipal supplies. User priority on the Colorado River is determined by the first "useful purposing" of the water. For example, the irrigated agriculture in California has priority over some municipal water supplies for Phoenix, Ariz.
Inadequate Supply and Increasing Demand
When the original total allocation of the river was set in the 1920s, it was far above regional consumption. But it was also more than the river could supply in the long term. The river was divided based on an estimated annual flow of roughly 21 billion cubic meters per year. More recent studies have indicated that the 20th century, and especially the 1920s, was a time of above-normal flows. These studies indicate that the long-term average of flow is closer to 18 billion cubic meters, with yearly flows ranging anywhere from roughly 6 billion cubic meters to nearly 25 billion cubic meters. As utilization has increased, the deficit between flow and allocation has become more apparent.
Total allocations of river resources for the Upper and Lower basins and Mexico plus water lost to evaporation adds up to more than 21 billion cubic meters per year. Currently, the Upper Basin does not use the full portion of its allocation, and large reservoirs along the river can help meet the demand of the Lower Basin. Populations in the region are expected to increase; in some states, the population could double by 2030. A study released at the end of 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicted a possible shortage of 3 billion cubic meters by 2035.
The Colorado River provides water for irrigation of roughly 15 percent of the crops in the United States, including vegetables, fruits, cotton, alfalfa and hay. It also provides municipal water supplies for large cities, such as Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, accounting for more than half of the water supply in many of these areas. Minute 319, signed in November 2012, gives Mexico a small amount of additional water in an attempt to restore the delta region. However, the macroeconomic impact on Mexico is minimal, since agriculture accounts for the majority of the river's use in Mexico but only about 3 percent of the gross domestic product of the Baja Norte province.
There is an imbalance of power along the international border. The United States controls the headwaters of the Colorado River and also has a greater macroeconomic interest in maintaining the supply of water from the river. This can make individual amendments of the 1944 Treaty somewhat misleading. Because of the erratic nature of the river, the treaty effectively promises more water than the river can provide each year. Cooperation in conservation efforts and in finding alternative water sources on the U.S. side of the border, not treaty amendments, will become increasingly important as regional water use increases over the coming decades.
Conservation Efforts Along the Colorado
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation oversees the whole river, but the management of each basin is separate. Additionally, within each basin, there are separate state management agencies and, within each state, separate regional management agencies. Given the number of participants, reaching agreements on the best method of conservation or the best alternative source of water is difficult. There are ongoing efforts at conservation, including lining canals to reduce seepage and programs to limit municipal water use. However, there is no basin-wide coordination. In a 2012 report, the Bureau of Reclamation compiled a list of suggested projects but stopped short of recommending a course of action.
A similar report released in 2008 listed 12 general options including desalinization, vegetation management (elimination of water-intensive or invasive plants), water reuse, reduced use by power plants and joint management through water banking (water is stored either in reservoirs or in underground aquifers to use when needed). Various sources of water imports from other river basins or even icebergs are proposed as options, as is weather modification by seeding clouds in the Upper Basin. Implementation of all these options would result in an extra 5 billion cubic meters of water a year at most, which could erase the predicted deficit. However, this amount is unlikely, as it assumes maximum output from each technique and also assumes the implementation of all proposed methods, many of which are controversial either politically or environmentally and some of which are economically unviable. Additionally, many of the methods would take years to fully implement and produce their maximum capacity. Even then, a more reasonable estimate of conservation capacity would likely be closer to 1 billion-2 billion cubic meters, which would fall short of the projected deficit in 2035.
The Potential for New Disputes
Conflict over water can arise when there are competing interests for limited resources. This is seen throughout the world with rivers that traverse borders in places like Central Asia and North Africa. For the Colorado River, the U.S.-Mexico border is likely less relevant to the competition for the river's resources than the artificial border drawn at Lees Ferry.
Aside from growing populations, increased energy production from unconventional hydrocarbon sources in the Upper Basin has the potential to increase consumption. While this amount will likely be small compared to overall allocations, it emphasizes the value of water to the Upper Basin. Real or perceived threats to the Upper Basin's surplus of water could be seen as threats to economic growth in the region. At the same time, further water shortages could limit the potential for economic growth in the Lower Basin -- a situation that would only be exacerbated by growing populations.
While necessary, conservation efforts and the search for alternative sources likely will not be able to make up for the predicted shortage. Amendments to the original treaty typically have been issued to address symptomatic problems. However, the core problem remains: More water is promised to river users than is available on average. While this problem has not come to a head yet, there may come a time when regional growth overtakes conservation efforts. It is then that renegotiation of the treaty with a more realistic view of the river's volume will become necessary. Any renegotiation will be filled with conflict, but most of that likely will be contained in the United States.
Read more: U.S., Mexico: The Decline of the Colorado River | Stratfor
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