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Author Topic: Mexico  (Read 314656 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #450 on: April 02, 2016, 08:26:44 PM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-how-to-hack-an-election/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #451 on: May 05, 2016, 02:36:34 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_LMUZ8PZ9s
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« Reply #452 on: May 13, 2016, 08:49:29 AM »

Analysis

Editor's Note: This is the 15th installment of an occasional series on water scarcity issues around the world.

When determining borders, a river is often the clearest delineation between sovereign nations. But that clarity abruptly ends when countries must decide how to use the water that the river provides. Even managing rivers that do not determine borders, but rather travel through multiple countries, is precarious at best. The Rio Grande, which partly establishes the U.S.-Mexico border, is no exception. It has been and will continue to be vital to economic growth in the region, especially in Mexico, where the river and its tributaries are crucial to supporting new opportunities for manufacturing and energy.

But growing demands and environmental pressures will increase tension over water resources in the coming decades. Unlike the waters of the Colorado River, which originate entirely in the United States, the watershed of the Rio Grande is more evenly split between the United States and Mexico. Although Mexico depends on the water resources far more than the United States does, both nations are vulnerable to increasing water stress, making it difficult for them to meet anticipated water treaty obligations.
Exceptional Management

The Rio Grande is more than just the main river that runs along the Mexican border of Texas, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Its upper reaches stretch as far north as Colorado, though the majority of the basin area in the United States lies in New Mexico. Because of a combination of factors — such as high evaporation rates in the arid region, diversions for agricultural production in New Mexico and invasive plant species — a portion of the Rio Grande effectively dries up before being replenished at its confluence with the Rio Conchos. The Rio Conchos runs entirely through Mexico's territory, beginning in the mountains of Chihuahua and Durango and moving through the Chihuahuan Desert, and it accounts for roughly 14 percent of the Rio Grande's total watershed. On the U.S. side, one of the Rio Grande's primary tributaries, the Pecos River, runs through New Mexico before joining up again with the larger river farther south.

Yet the cooperation between the United States and Mexico over the river systems of the Colorado and the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo, as it is known in Mexico) is in some ways exceptional by international standards. Treaties signed in the first half of the 20th century clearly dictate the volumes of flow guaranteed to each country, and those agreements have successfully forestalled many past disputes. Specifically, the river's use is governed in two separate sections, with Fort Quitman, Texas, acting as the dividing point for legislation and management.

It was not until the late 19th century that legal disputes over the use of the Rio Grande began. At the time, U.S. courts determined that the country had no legal obligation to deliver any water downstream. A 1906 case, however, determined that roughly 74 million cubic meters per year would be delivered to Mexico from the northwestern parts of the river but stipulated that the amount could be reduced in drought years. There were reductions in roughly a third of the years between 1939 and 2015. In fact, Mexico has not received the full allotment since 2012, and as little as 6 percent of the full amount was delivered in 2013.

Along the southeastern portion of the Rio Grande, downriver from Fort Quitman, the allotments are governed by the 1944 water treaty, which requires Mexico to receive two-thirds of the water from its tributaries and to deliver the remaining third to the United States. These deliveries are somewhat flexible because the amount (just over 430 million cubic meters per year) is tracked in five-year blocks, and one year's deficit can be accounted for in the next year if necessary. Even if a deficit spans the entire five-year block, as was the case for much of the 1990s as well as from 2010 to 2015, it can still be compensated for in the following five-year span. Mexico even made up its accumulated deficit of 325 million cubic meters within the first few months of 2016. Still, the uncertainty over consistent volumes of delivery sometimes leads to calls for political action, especially for consumers in Texas.

In addition to the two countries' shared surface water, Mexico and the United States share about 20 underground aquifers. Though these resources support the populations and economies of the border region, unlike surface water, no international treaty governs their use. Much like surface water, however, there is significant overexploitation and a decline in water quality. Consistent overuse ultimately threatens the viability of the aquifer systems.
Demand Factors

When these agreements were signed in the early 20th century, less was known about the hydrology of the region, and the Rio Grande's limited water resources were likely over-allocated based on above-average yearly flows. Furthermore, demand is growing, not shrinking. Agriculture is the primary consumer of the basin's water, but expanding populations that could reach nearly 20 million people by 2020, the rapid rise of manufacturing capacities in Mexico (following North American Free Trade Agreement) and energy production on both sides all play a role in increasing water stress in the region.

Mexican manufacturing capacity, especially in the automotive sector, may be slowing after having swelled between 2008 and 2014. But buoyed by the increasing number of nearby U.S. consumers, high-end manufacturing will soon determine Mexican economic growth, and water consumption by the sector will only rise.

Manufacturing growth has also propelled the rapid expansion of Mexico's electrical grid and, in turn, the demand for energy: Mexico continues to rehabilitate its energy sector to revive production levels. And while the full benefits of Mexico City's recent energy reforms have yet to be seen, the energy sector will likely increase its water consumption (including for hydraulic fracturing) at sites located in the Rio Grande Basin. Moreover, Mexico will not be the only country drawing from the Rio Grande or aquifers to support energy production. Agriculture is the primary consumer of water in Texas, but the Eagle Ford shale formation crosses the Mexican border, and production on the U.S. side has already increased water use in several river basins over the past decade, a pattern that will likely continue.

All of these factors contribute to current estimates that upper portions of the river will decrease by as much as a third by the end of this century, and lower portions will accumulate a deficit of more than 830 million cubic meters per year. The gap between supply and demand will grow, as will tension along the border. The treaties, signed decades ago, have been sufficient and their terms largely met until now. But overuse of water resources and environmental stress continue to rise, and basin conditions are poised to prevent amiable management of the water system in the long term. Efforts from both the private sector and governments will instead likely focus on implementing technological adaptations, including waterless hydraulic fracturing and water recycling, to mitigate water stress. Nevertheless, dwindling water supplies could hamper manufacturing growth and energy production in the basin, especially for Mexico. Moreover, Mexico's likely failure to meet delivery quotas will only ramp up tensions with the United States in the coming decades.

    Part 1: Yemen's Looming Water Crisis
    Part 2: U.S. Agriculture Wilts During California Drought
    Part 3: South Africa's Water Needs Will Be Costly
    Part 4: Indonesia's Disjointed Islands Make Water Scarcity a Problem
    Part 5: Mesopotamian Vitality Falls to Turkey
    Part 6: Water Use Reform Will Be Difficult for Fractured India
    Part 7: Sao Paulo Drought Could Benefit Brazil
    Part 8: Industrial Expansion Will Strain Mexico's Water Resources
    Part 9: China's Appetite Will Strain Australia's Water
    Part 10: Why Canada Cannot Export Its Water
    Part 11: The Sea Is a Relief for Spain's Water Problems
    Part 12: Central America: How a Drought Affects Migration
    Part 13: Algeria: A Desert Nation Fighting to Maintain Water Supplies
    Part 14: Southern Africa's Options Are Drying Up
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #453 on: June 01, 2016, 01:01:28 PM »

http://www.southernpulse.info/sp-pulses/mexico-city-vehicle-restrictions-boost-sales-of-bulletproof-cars-motorcycles?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=SPI+Networked+Intelligence+Newsletter&utm_campaign=Networked+Intelligence+Newsletter+1+June+2016
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #454 on: June 01, 2016, 01:03:19 PM »

Segundo del dia (second post of the day)

http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/hoy-no-circula-impulsa-compra-de-motocicletas-y-bicicletas.html?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=SPI+Networked+Intelligence+Newsletter&utm_campaign=Networked+Intelligence+Newsletter+1+June+2016
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #455 on: December 11, 2016, 07:46:50 PM »

Analysis

By Reggie Thompson

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Operation Michoacan, and to many, the start of Mexico's deadly war on drugs. But a decade later, the country's prospects for security and peace don't seem much better than they did when the massive crackdown on Mexican cartels began in 2006.

Most people point to Felipe Calderon's presidency as the moment when things began to go wrong for Mexico. In the face of rising crime, and under mounting pressure from the United States to stem the flow of drugs across its southern border, Calderon sent 5,000 soldiers and federal police officers into the streets of Michoacan state, firing the first shots of what would become a long and bloody struggle. But it is neither fair nor accurate to pin the blame for the conflict that ensued on a single decision. Crime-related violence plagued Mexico long before Calderon took office, albeit at a lower level than in the years that followed his declaration of war on the country's cartels. Moreover, Calderon was not the first president to deploy Mexico's armed forces against drug lords and their assets; he was just the first to do so on such a tremendous scale.
Cartels in the Crosshairs

Operation Michoacan signaled the beginnings of a concerted effort by Mexico City to tackle organized crime. Though day-to-day security tasks normally fell to local police agencies, corruption had become so pervasive at the lower levels of Mexican law enforcement that their federal counterparts — the army, marines and federal police — had to step in to maintain law and order in some areas. Under Calderon's orders, some 45,000 troops were deployed throughout Mexico each year to combat crime, more than twice the average manpower that Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox, had dedicated to the same cause. Upticks in arrests and killings of cartel members began to noticeably disrupt trafficking activities as crime groups' capabilities steadily eroded.

But the military's success came at a price. As Mexican crime groups came under greater pressure from law enforcement, they began to fight back against the government and among themselves, vying for the trafficking routes, recruits and resources that were left. Violence skyrocketed in several of the cities and regions that were vital to the drug trade and other illegal activities.
Treating the Symptoms

Ten years on, the future of Mexico's security environment looks no more promising than it did at the start of Calderon's campaign. Still, the intervening decade has brought some positive changes. From a tactical perspective, public safety has visibly improved in the areas that the government targeted because of their rampant violence, such as Ciudad Juarez and parts of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. Meanwhile, most of the large cartels that once controlled swaths of Mexican territory have splintered as military operations have left them leaderless and riven by infighting.

What has not changed is Mexico's proximity to the massive market for drugs that lies just north of its border. Despite the heavy blows Mexican officials have dealt to major drug trafficking organizations, the smaller fragments left in their wake have picked up where their predecessors left off. Driven by persistently high demand for the drugs they have to offer, Mexican traffickers have kept supply chains to the United States and beyond running, even as state security forces try to shut them down. Though the power of individual crime groups has faded in the face of continued law enforcement efforts, the scope, location and intensity of violence has ebbed and flowed over the years, rather than declining permanently.

This reality is unlikely to change so long as there are profits to be made. Since the United States and its foreign partners began cracking down on cocaine smuggling routes through the Caribbean in the 1980s, Mexico — situated between Central America and the United States and blessed with well-developed transportation infrastructure — has proved ideally suited to serve as a land bridge for northbound drugs. Though the use of cocaine has sharply declined since the mid-2000s, heroin and methamphetamine have taken over bigger and bigger shares of the U.S. drug market, and both are increasingly produced and transported by Mexican cartels. The emerging preference for heroin and methamphetamine has even hiked up profit margins, since the cartels do not have to buy these drugs from South American producers.
A War With No End in Sight

With foreign demand propping up Mexican crime, it is unlikely that Mexico City will retreat from its drug war anytime soon. The country's cartels pose a threat to national security that is far too great for the government to address on its own. Consequently, Mexico City will continue to rely on Washington's help, in the form of security training and intelligence sharing, to target cartel members and criminal networks. Perhaps even more important, Mexico's enduring effort to quash drug trafficking across its borders is a fundamental part of its relationship with the United States. Any attempt to scale down its operations against cartels would immediately meet with pushback from Washington.

Lacking other means of going after the country's criminal groups, Mexico's government will keep tasking federal forces with protecting the Mexican public. Over the past three years, Mexico City has tried to create new law enforcement bodies to bridge the gap between the military and local police, since soldiers do not have the writ or capacity to conduct criminal investigations and combat low-level crime. But forming and implementing these organizations will take years, leaving Mexico City with little choice in the meantime but to count on the military to protect its citizens from the criminals in their midst.

In all likelihood, Mexico's decadelong drug war will continue for decades to come. Fueled by geography and the economics of the illegal drug trade, trafficking and violence will remain a thorn in Mexico's side and a blemish on U.S.-Mexico relations. Though crime may not linger at the heights the country has seen over the past 10 years, Mexican cartels are central to the global drug market, and for now they have made it clear that they are here to stay.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #456 on: February 07, 2017, 06:01:06 PM »

https://magnet.xataka.com/asi-lo-hemos-vivido/un-periodista-espanol-paso-tres-meses-en-el-cartel-de-sinaloa-esto-es-lo-que-vio
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #457 on: February 10, 2017, 07:24:41 AM »

https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/the-border-wall-making-mexican-drug-cartels-great-again/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #458 on: February 12, 2017, 12:33:57 AM »

https://www.facebook.com/nayaritenlinea.mx/videos/10154208666502256/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
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DDF
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« Reply #459 on: February 19, 2017, 12:30:19 PM »

Right next to here.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #460 on: February 25, 2017, 10:31:00 AM »



The acrid political atmosphere between the United States and Mexico created by the issue of immigrant deportation dominated the visit to Mexico City by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and John Kelly, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The shifting U.S. stance toward immigration enforcement will play a significant part in shaping Mexico's domestic political landscape and will affect future relations between the two countries.

The most recent dispute between Mexico City and Washington revolves around memos written by Kelly to his department and made public Monday concerning how to implement executive orders issued by President Donald Trump that give authorities greater latitude to deport foreigners who break U.S. immigration law. Under Kelly's instructions, the United States could send those people to the contiguous country nearest to their point of detention — meaning Mexico in tens of thousands of cases — until their immigration hearings were resolved, although he said people whose cases were decided would be transported directly back to their home countries.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The policy outlined by Kelly, who at a press conference Thursday promised to prioritize the deportation of criminals and take a cooperative approach with Mexico in the matter, opens the door to increased deportation of Mexican-born migrants. This will create a number of headaches for authorities in Mexico City. Adding thousands of deportees to the ranks of the unemployed is certainly an unappealing prospect for Mexican officials, who are already dealing with federal budget cutbacks spurred by slumping oil prices. But increased deportations of Mexican citizens also could damage the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ahead of the 2018 presidential race by creating the impression among voters that the PRI's leaders are weak in the face of unfavorable U.S. policy. This could drive up support for opposition parties such as the PRI's traditional foe, the National Action Party (PAN), or the upstart National Regeneration Movement (Morena), founded by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The prospect of voters flocking to Morena is a major concern for Mexico's business and political elite. The private sector knows what to expect from PRI or PAN, but Morena has never held power. Lopez Obrador is not exactly a political outsider: He was previously mayor of Mexico City under the Party of the Democratic Revolution and twice ran unsuccessfully for president. But 2018 could produce a different result for him; polls indicate that he has the support of around a third of the electorate, and the current tussle with the United States could add to his popularity. But even as Lopez Obrador has publicly signaled a shift to the center by meeting with business leaders, economic and regulatory risks abound concerning his election. For example, he has repeatedly vowed to slow the pace of the country's 2013 energy reforms, which opened exploration and production in Mexico's oil and natural gas sectors to private foreign investment. Most recently, a Lopez Obrador spokesman said that if elected, the Moreno leader would halt Mexico City's oil and gas licensing rounds and review existing agreements. Lopez Obrador most likely made the promise in the hopes of bolstering support in areas hit hard by the downsizing of state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos and then riding a wave of nationalism to the presidency.

While his shot at the energy reforms may merely represent populist rhetoric intended to appeal to voters already angry with the government, it suggests that if Lopez Obrador assumes office, he would use his presidential powers to slow the pace of private capital entering Mexico's energy sector. This in turn raises the specter of political gridlock and infighting at a time when Mexico can ill afford it. With the United States pushing the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), such a divisive energy issue could be in front of Mexico's congress at the same time it might need to address changes in the trade status with the United States, a priority that congressional infighting could delay.

But aside from the political difficulties that changes in U.S. immigration policy could create, another angle of the issue has raised concerns in Mexico City. Accepting deported migrants from other countries (mostly those from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) without any promise of assistance from the United States would put Mexico in a difficult position. Though Mexico would accept its own citizens, the establishment of communities of largely jobless, sometimes criminal migrants from other nations (many of whom would never leave Mexico) would create long-term difficulties for the country. The number of Central Americans attempting to enter the United States illegally has surged, and the economic pressures that influence them to cross Mexico's southern border are not diminishing. That, combined with the Mexican administration's fears of a voter backlash if it acquiesces to the DHS directive, makes it no surprise that Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico would not entertain cooperating on that portion of the new orders, although Mexico could face U.S. pressure to give in.

Discussions on security issues, particularly on ways to counter illegal migration and organized crime, will continue parallel to the NAFTA discussions, slated to begin in June. Before then, one of the main tools Mexico will use to shape negotiations on security and economic matters will be the threat of refusing to help the United States rein in illegal migration. Mexico has already suggested that it would reduce security cooperation if the United States pushes for changes to NAFTA that are unfavorable to Mexico. But putting that threat into practice will be a risky proposition for Mexico. The Trump administration can retaliate by cutting off most U.S. government assistance, a threat set up by the language of the DHS memos instructing agencies to identify any sources of aid to Mexico.

The ultimate intent of such a policy seems to be to pressure Mexico to accept U.S. demands, whether to agree to the suggestion that Mexico fund a border wall between the countries or to concede points in NAFTA negotiations. A reduction in Mexico's security cooperation with the United States, whether on intelligence gathering or migrant interdiction, could lead to retaliation from Washington, which could replace NAFTA with a bilateral trade agreement. The demise of NAFTA would result in more uncertainty for Mexico, which would find itself in the difficult position of negotiating a bilateral trade deal at a time when political relations with the United States are at an ebb.

Mexico's government would probably want to divorce security cooperation from the economic talks, but doing so may no longer be possible. As the negotiations go on, long-standing security issues such as migration and drug trafficking (and Mexican cooperation on those issues) will intersect with the purely economic aspects of Mexico's relationship with the United States. Mexico would clearly be at a disadvantage in NAFTA negotiations, but for now, Mexico City will wait to see what constraints limiting the White House's ability to act on NAFTA present themselves. The future of NAFTA is uncertain, even among Washington policymakers, and Mexican leaders likely hope that uncertainty will give way to a renegotiation of the pact, rather than to a rapid deterioration in economic and political ties.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #461 on: February 26, 2017, 10:25:26 AM »

https://www.facebook.com/uniradioinforma/videos/1487013984642714/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #462 on: March 15, 2017, 01:38:22 PM »

Mexican attorney general confirms discovery massive clandestine graveyard in Veracruz



3/14/17 | Mexico | Security — The Mexican state of Veracruz Attorney General’s office confirmed the discovery of 250 skulls in a clandestine graveyard in the state of Veracruz on 14 March 2017 (El Economista). Authorities believe the site was a cemetery for a narcotrafficking cartel’s victims since the territory was once controlled by Los Zetas, but had been the subject conflict after penetration by the Jalisco Nuevo Generación cartel beginning around 2011 (El Economista). Veracruz Attorney General Jorge Winckler believed many more remains could be uncovered and revealed the site could be the largest known clandestine cemetery in the world. Winckler also noted the looting of public funds during the Javier Duarte administration have led to a lack of resources for forensic help in identifying victims (Proceso).



Violence flares in Oaxaca and Sinaloa, Mexico



3/12/17 | Mexico | Security — Authorities in Sinaloa reported on 12 March at least fourteen murders occurred from 10 to 12 March 2017 in the municipalities of Navolato and Culiacán (Excelsior). The wave of killings comes as a surprise to state authorities as a decrease in violence was expected in central areas of the state following the confirmation of the death of Julio Óscar Ortiz alias El Kevin, a man linked to the sons of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán (Excelsior). Authorities in the state of Oaxaca also reported at least nine murders, including one soldier during the same time period (El Universal).


Mexican police forces arrest Sinaloa cartel operative in Tijuana



3/12/17 | Mexico | Security — Mexican authorities confirmed the capture a Cártel de Sinaloa operative, Octavio Leal Hernández alias El Chapito Leal, in Tijuana, Baja California on 10 March 2017 (Milenio). Leal Hernández was wanted in connection with violent acts and drug trafficking in Tijuana and was arrested along with six others (El Sol de Tijuana). El Chapito Leal was a lieutenant in part of the criminal group linked to the Cártel de Sinaloa led by brothers Alfonso and René Arzate García, alias El Aquiles and La Rana. Leal Hernández had been arrested previously in 2012 but was released from prison in 2015 (El Sol de Tijuana and Milenio).


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #463 on: March 17, 2017, 01:28:58 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/world/americas/mexico-trump-pena-nieto-wall-drug-war.html?emc=edit_th_20170317&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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Cecilio Andrade
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« Reply #464 on: March 27, 2017, 10:17:45 AM »


El 17,18 y 19 del presente mes de Marzo se impartió con grandes y exitosos resultados los siguientes cursos en el campo de Las Mesas  organizados por PST Capacitaciones.

Curso uno: Tiro a Distancias Extremadamente Cortas.


Curso Dos: Tiro con Vehículos.


Curso Tres: Tiro Para Oficiales De Protección.


¿Lo mejor?

La calidad personal extrema de los alumnos, independientemente de su capacidad técnica y habilidades previas.

Ellos son los protagonistas.

Gracias.
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aqui yacemos."
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WebBlog: http://cecilioandrade.blogspot.com
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #465 on: March 28, 2017, 11:51:46 PM »

http://www.sdpnoticias.com/pitorreo/2017/03/27/amlo-invita-a-mars-aguirre-a-convertirse-en-lider-juvenil-de-morena
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #466 on: March 31, 2017, 12:07:46 PM »

https://bluelivesmatter.blue/mexican-attorney-general-edgar-veytia/
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DDF
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« Reply #467 on: April 19, 2017, 08:18:51 AM »

Came home to another dead body right next to my house....again, and then this here last night... far from the only one I've seen here now. Starting to lose count.

https://www.facebook.com/accesozac/videos/1809837469032501/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #468 on: April 19, 2017, 10:34:40 PM »

 shocked shocked shocked
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #469 on: May 14, 2017, 12:50:30 AM »

https://www.elsoldezacatecas.com.mx/zacatecas/en-zacatecas-tres-nuevos-carteles-se-disputan-la-plaza
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« Reply #470 on: May 16, 2017, 11:26:06 AM »

http://agenciacatolicamx.blogspot.mx/2017/05/un-musulman-frances-apunala-un.html
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« Reply #471 on: May 23, 2017, 07:22:41 PM »

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/us-world/border-mexico/article/Judge-presiding-over-El-Chapo-s-case-shot-in-9980271.php
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« Reply #472 on: June 25, 2017, 05:15:09 PM »

https://sicdbma.wixsite.com/sic-kali/sic-kali-gathering
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DDF
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« Reply #473 on: July 06, 2017, 10:21:20 PM »

Apostado por pedida de PGC

Voceros de Zacatecas

https://www.facebook.com/noticierostelevisa.zacatecas/videos/829591367206942/?pnref=story

Melina Gonzalez
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« Reply #474 on: July 06, 2017, 10:25:46 PM »

Gracias DDF.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #475 on: July 13, 2017, 02:13:53 PM »



    Articles

    Regions & Countries

    Topics

    Themes

A serious challenge from populist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador awaits Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in next year's presidential election. That's what polling data and the close results of the June 4 gubernatorial election in Mexico state suggest as Lopez Obrador looks ahead to a third presidential run in July 2018 after second-place finishes as the candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution in 2006 and 2012. Now leading his own party, the National Regeneration Movement, Lopez Obrador is in a statistical tie in recent polls with the PRI and National Action Party candidates.

While a Lopez Obrador victory would be historic, his ability to make sweeping changes in keeping with his populist rhetoric will be greatly constrained. Even if Lopez Obrador wins the presidency, Mexico's political and economic path will remain relatively stable.

As we've discussed the possibility of a Lopez Obrador victory with our contacts in Mexico, we've noticed that many of them believe he would seek to undertake a dramatic change in the way the government deals with Mexico's powerful criminal drug cartels. The idea is that as president, Lopez Obrador would seek to address Mexico's violence problem by cutting a deal with cartel leaders, and on the campaign trail, he has promised to end the deployment of military forces in the country. Such a deal would allow traffickers to operate in the country as long as they did so without violence. While the concept may sound possible in theory, there are simply too many obstacles to permit such a dramatic shift in policy.
A Look at History

The idea that a Mexican presidential candidate would place more emphasis on stopping violence in Mexico than on stopping the flow of narcotics to the United States is not new. Indeed, we heard similar talk during the 2006 and 2012 elections. Here is a quote from a Stratfor analysis I wrote in June 2011:

    One of the trial balloons that the opposition parties, especially the PRI, seem to be floating at present is the idea that if they are elected they will reverse [President Felipe] Calderon's policy of going after the cartels with a heavy hand and will instead try to reach some sort of accommodation with them. This policy would involve lifting government pressure against the cartels and thereby (ostensibly) reducing the level of violence that is wracking the country.

The people who believe such a shift is possible base their belief on a mistaken historical narrative. This holds that Mexican organized crime groups were controlled by the ruling PRI and were largely nonviolent until President Ernesto Zedillo, who was elected in 1994, abandoned the party's deal with the cartels after a corruption scandal enveloped his predecessor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari. When Zedillo unleashed the military on the cartels, this myth goes, violence spiked.

This rendition of events is deeply flawed. There were indeed close ties between the cartels and PRI figures at all levels of the Mexican government as well as between the cartels and powerful figures in other political parties. The cartels also fostered deep corruption into every level of law enforcement in Mexico. However, quite simply, the PRI did not control the cartels. Rather, the inverse was true. The cartels had a significant amount of control over some politicians and portions of the government.

The cartels were too rich and powerful to be corralled in this manner. In the 1980s, interdiction efforts forced an increasing amount of cocaine trafficking away from Caribbean routes and through Mexico. The vast wealth connected to the cocaine trade made the Mexican cartels far more powerful than they had ever been. It also caused them to become more protective of the source of their wealth. One of the first widely publicized manifestations of this protectionist streak was seen in the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique Camarena. While his death caused the United States to focus heavily on Mexico's powerful Guadalajara cartel and pressure the Mexican and regional governments to follow suit, cartel violence was not a new manifestation: The cartels assassinated rivals and journalists well before 1985.

After Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo and other leaders of the Guadalajara cartel were arrested in the wake of Camarena's murder, Gallardo's primary lieutenants assumed responsibility for the various areas where they operated. This resulted in the creation of the Tijuana cartel (Arellano Felix organization), the Juarez cartel (Carrillo Fuentes organization) and a group of cartels led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Ismael Zambada and others, known as the Sinaloa Federation. Tensions quickly flared between Guzman and the Arellano Felix brothers over control of smuggling routes — and profits — resulting in a bloody turf war that began in 1989 and wracked northwestern Mexico in the early 1990s. One of the high-profile side effects of their battles was the May 1993 murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo and six other people at the Guadalajara airport. It is believed that a Tijuana cartel hit team sent to assassinate Guzman accidentally killed the Catholic Church leader. After Posadas' murder, Mexican law enforcement began to dramatically step up operations against both the Tijuana cartel and the Sinaloa Federation. This heat caused Guzman to flee to Guatemala, where he was arrested in June 1993.

In the early 1980s, many cartel figures served as their own enforcers, but as tensions escalated among competing gangs over control of the cocaine trade, violence escalated as the Tijuana cartel and others began to employ teams of police officers and street gang members to serve as enforcer units. Competing gangs formed similar enforcer groups. Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, the leader of the Gulf cartel, upped the ante by hiring a unit of special forces soldiers, and Los Zetas were formed. Again, rival cartels followed suit and hired their own groups of soldiers to counter the power of Los Zetas, leading to the militarization of cartel enforcer groups. The introduction of paramilitary forces brought along with it military weapons, and cartel enforcers graduated from using pistols, shotguns and submachine guns to regularly employing fully automatic assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.

A careful review of cartel history makes it clear that cartel violence in Mexico was a significant security problem well before Zedillo came into office in 1994. In fact, Salinas in his inaugural address in December 1989 noted that "narcotics trafficking has become a grave risk to the security of the nation." It was cartel violence, and corruption within law enforcement agencies, that led Zedillo to put the military into the fight against the cartels. They were not the cause of the violence, and taking the military off the streets will not end the violence that is plaguing Mexico — especially when there is no other force to replace them.

Besides, like the violence between the Tijuana cartel and Sinaloa Federation that led to the Posadas assassination, a substantial percentage of the violence in Mexico is spawned by cartel-on-cartel attacks and is not initiated by the government.
The Impact of Balkanization

Another severe constraint on the Mexican government's ability to reach some sort of arrangement with the cartels is that the cartel landscape has changed dramatically. Two main groups — the Guadalajara and Gulf cartels — controlled most drug trafficking in Mexico in the 1980s. Even a decade ago, there were only a handful of groups controlling most of the activity. But today, infighting caused by greed and suspicion, as well as decapitation caused by the arrest or killing of cartel leaders, has led to the Balkanization of Mexico's cartels. This fracturing has caused us to change the way we think about and analyze these groups. Instead of a monolithic Sinaloa Federation, dozens of organized crime groups have splintered from it. Likewise, what was the Gulf cartel is now a constellation of geographic gangs that are often at odds — and at war — with one another. Even if the Mexican government wanted to pursue deals to end the violence, and even if each group in this array of criminal gangs was willing to entertain such an offer, it would be impossible to reach any sort of comprehensive peace agreement with this many parties.

The 2011 analysis quoted above referred to campaign rhetoric from PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto. However, after he won election in 2012, Pena Nieto has not been able to dramatically reverse course as he proposed on the campaign trail. In fact, he has struggled to enact many of the more gradual changes he proposed, such as "mando unico," or unified state command over police forces and the creation of a gendarmerie, or paramilitary police force, to replace the military force deployed against the cartels. Without a replacement, it is impossible to pull the military out of the fight because to do so would create a security vacuum in the areas where the military is deployed. This would be socially and politically unacceptable.

Speaking of politics, the Mexican Congress also serves as a severe constraint on the power of the president to enact reforms. Without congressional support, the president could make only limited changes, and lawmakers would resist making any radical shifts in cartel policy.

This means that, much like immediate predecessors Pena Nieto, Calderon and Vicente Fox, Mexico's next president will not have much freedom to change the country's cartel policy.
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« Reply #476 on: August 02, 2017, 02:21:05 PM »

Drug Cartels Fuming at New U.S. Policy Screening 100% of Mexican Cargo Trucks

AUGUST 01, 2017

In a major shift from lax Obama-era regulations, the Trump administration is finally allowing customs officers to screen all cargo trucks entering the U.S. from Mexico and sources on both sides of the border tell Judicial Watch Mexican drug cartels are fuming. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is using X-ray technology and other non-intrusive tools to screen 100% of cargo trucks crossing the southern border after eight years of sporadic or random screening permitted under the Obama administration.

“We felt like we were the welcoming committee and not like we were guarding our borders,” said veteran U.S. Customs agent Patricia Cramer, who also serves as president of the Arizona chapter of the agency’s employee union. “The order was to facilitate traffic, not to stop any illegal drugs from entering the country,” Cramer added. “We want to enforce the law. That’s what we signed up for.” Cramer, a canine handler stationed at the Nogales port of entry in Arizona, said illicit drugs are pouring in through the southern border, especially massive quantities of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says is more potent than morphine.

Approximately 471,000 trucks pass through the U.S-Mexico border monthly, according to figures published by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The busiest port of entry is in Laredo, Texas where 167,553 trucks enter the U.S. from Mexico monthly, followed by Otay Mesa in California (76,953), El Paso, Texas (58,913), Hidalgo, Texas (45,355) and Nogales with 29,439. Other busy ports include East Calexico, California (29,173), Brownsville, Texas (16,140) and Eagle Pass, Texas (12,952). Trucks bring in everything from auto parts to appliances, produce and livestock. In fact, a veteran Homeland Security official told Judicial Watch that cattle trucks passed without inspection during the Obama administration because Mexican farmers complained that the security screenings frightened their cows. “Our guys were livid that we were not allowed to check cattle,” the federal official said.

Frontline customs agents stationed along the southern border confirm that trucks containing “legitimate” goods are often used by sophisticated drug cartels to move cargo north. This is hardly surprising since most illegal drugs in the United States come from Mexico, according to the DEA, and Mexican traffickers remain the greatest threat to the United States. They’re classified as Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs) by the government and for years they’ve smuggled in enormous quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Last year the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the nonpartisan agency that provides Congress with policy and legal analysis, published a disturbing report outlining how Mexican cartels move record quantities of drugs into the U.S. Because cartels move the drugs through the Southwest border, western states have become part of what’s known as the “heroin transit zone,” according to the CRS.

Federal law enforcement sources tell Judicial Watch Mexican cartels operate like efficient businesses that resort to “other more treacherous routes” when necessary, but driving through a port of entry in a cargo truck is a preferred method of moving drugs. Cartels station shifts of spotters with binoculars in Mexican hills near border checkpoints to determine the level of security screenings. “They know if we’re on the job, the level of screening that we’re conducting,” Cramer said. “The cartels watch us all the time.” Nogales is a favorite for cartel spotters because the U.S. checkpoint sits in a valley surrounded by hills on the Mexican side, where unobstructed views facilitate surveillance. “They see everything,” Cramer said. For years the cartel spotters saw that much of the cargo passing through the checkpoint was waved through, according to agents contacted by Judicial Watch.
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« Reply #477 on: August 05, 2017, 06:54:21 PM »

Aug 3, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
Mexico's Cartels Find Another Game Changer in Fentanyl
By Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Scott Stewart
Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are shown at a press conference at the office of the New York Attorney General.
(DREW ANGERER/Getty Images)


In my July 13 On Security column about the Mexican government's anti-cartel policy, I discussed how the dynamics of the cocaine trade affected the historical trajectory of Mexican organized crime. In short, cocaine provided cartels with unprecedented quantities of cash that they then parlayed into power. Starting in the 1980s, Mexican criminal organizations began fighting over the immense profit pool produced by the lucrative trade in powder, and this infighting has continued in one form or another to this day.

But cocaine was merely the first of several drugs that were game changers for Mexican organized crime groups. The latest of them, fentanyl (and related synthetic opioids), is the most profitable yet, and is rapidly becoming the deadliest drug for users north of the border.

Disruptive Drugs

Mexican criminals have been incredibly flexible and adaptive in terms of the drugs they supply to the massive illegal narcotics market in the United States. Much of this flexibility naturally comes in response to consumer demand for certain types of drugs. But enforcement and interdiction also heavily influence the activities of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. Increased disruption of Caribbean cocaine-trafficking routes, for example, led Colombian cartels to rely more heavily on Mexican groups to move their product over land into the United States. This change transformed the Mexicans into a critical link in the cocaine supply chain and allowed figures such as Gulf cartel leader Juan Garcia Abrego to demand larger profit cuts.

Methamphetamine is another good example of Mexican cartels recognizing and seizing business opportunities created by market forces and enforcement activity. U.S. law enforcement action targeting industrial-scale methamphetamine labs in California's Central Valley, and state and federal legislation such as the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, made it increasingly difficult to manufacture methamphetamine in the United States. Mexican criminal organizations, especially several Sinaloa cartel affiliates, recognized the opportunity presented by these developments and dramatically expanded their methamphetamine production in response. They also improved the quality and purity of the drug, compared to the product made by smaller operations in the United States. As a result, methamphetamine for sale on American streets became better, cheaper and more widely available.

Sinaloa cartel lieutenant Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel even became known as the "king of crystal" due to the large quantities of methamphetamine his organization produced. Unlike cocaine, which they had to purchase from Colombian producers or, more expensively, Central American middlemen, Mexican cartels could produce methamphetamine from relatively inexpensive dual-use precursor chemicals. So, though the cartels had been making good money in the cocaine trade, methamphetamine was even more profitable, since the cartels could control the lion's share of the profit pool. And groups that had strong connections to Chinese chemical providers and could oversee the flow of chemicals through Mexico's ports had a competitive advantage. Indeed, the rise of Tierra Caliente organized crime groups such as La Familia Michoacana, the Knights Templar and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion occurred largely because they controlled Mexico's ports and the methamphetamine trade.
Areas of cartel influence in Mexico.

Fentanyl: Low Costs, Big Profits

Lately, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has cracked down on pill mills prescribing opiates in the United States. As a result, people addicted to opiates have turned to alternatives such as Mexican black tar heroin. Mexican growers have planted record amounts of opium poppies in recent years, and the large influx of Mexican heroin to the United States has filled the coffers of growers and traffickers. Mexican heroin was strong, plentiful and inexpensive. And Mexican organizations also pioneered new distribution methods, even delivering heroin to the homes of users. One no longer had to travel into inner cities to obtain the drug, and heroin use expanded in all strata of society.

However, poppy cultivation is limited by geography. In Mexico, poppies grow best along the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain chain, on ridges above the 1,000-meter mark (3,280 feet) where the air is dry. So, there is a finite amount of space where opium poppies can be planted, and these locations are not difficult for the Mexican government to find and eradicate. Mexico has a relatively gentle climate and poppy growers ordinarily can manage two harvests of opium gum a year, but heroin production is nevertheless limited. It takes about three months for an opium poppy to mature and produce opium gum.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opiates, on the other hand, are not bound by geography or growing cycles. Fentanyl can be produced anywhere a laboratory can be set up, such as a warehouse in an industrial park, a home in a residential area or a clandestine lab in the mountains. It can be synthesized as long as there is access to the required precursor chemicals, which are almost exclusively imported from China. Fentanyl is also relatively inexpensive to produce — the DEA estimates it costs about $3,300 to produce 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds). It is also very potent, so a little goes a long way. According to the DEA, fentanyl is some 50 times more potent than heroin — and carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. This makes the drug a smuggler's dream due to its compact nature. Smuggling 1 kilogram of fentanyl into the United States is, from a dosage standpoint, essentially the same as smuggling in 50 kilograms of heroin, and 1 kilogram of carfentanil is roughly the equivalent of 5,000 kilograms of heroin.

Due to fentanyl's strength, 1 kilogram can fetch more than $1 million on the retail drug market, making fentanyl the most profitable drug the Mexican cartels are trafficking. Fentanyl's inexpensive nature is why drug dealers have attempted to pass it off as various more expensive narcotics, such as "China White" heroin for example, or pressed it into pills to mimic pharmaceutical opiates such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. The potency of fentanyl, carfentanil and other derivatives also seriously increases the risk overdose. Dealers processing the drugs for sale on the street often struggle to accurately dispense the very small doses required — and small mistakes in dosage can be deadly. In fentanyl, a deadly dose is measured in milligrams — one thousandth of a gram. In carfentanil, a deadly dose is in micrograms — one millionth of a gram. When dealing with such microscopic amounts placed into a medium purporting to be heroin or a pharmaceutical pill, it isn't hard to see why miscalculations are made and why so many users are overdosing.

Lucrative Ports

Fentanyl is also relatively easy to synthesize; the chemists who work in Mexico's more complex methamphetamine labs have little problem manufacturing it. And given America's appetite for opioids, fentanyl is poised to become the latest in a line of drugs offering a competitive advantage to the organizations that produce them. As in the methamphetamine trade, those that control Mexico's ports are in the best position to benefit from the fentanyl trade: The same networks that produce and smuggle methamphetamine precursors can be used to bring fentanyl precursors into the country.

All Mexican cartels are able to smuggle some finished fentanyl from China and some quantity of the drug's precursors, but as fentanyl's popularity grows, the organizations that control the ports and have close ties to Chinese chemical providers will be able to produce the largest quantities with the most consistency. In terms of the current cartel landscape, this means that Tierra Caliente-based organized crime groups are the largest beneficiaries of the fentanyl trade — much as they have benefited the most from the methamphetamine trade. Indeed, synthetic drugs have largely fueled the rapid growth of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

The Mexican navy assumed security responsibility for Mexico's ports in June, but the ports are rife with corruption and it is going to be a tall task for the navy to put a substantial dent in the flow of precursor chemicals and other contraband. Thus the ports will continue to be valuable possessions.

As with the fighting we have seen over lucrative smuggling corridors on the border, it is likely that other organizations will attempt to challenge the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's control of Pacific coast ports such as Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, as well as Veracruz on the Gulf Coast. With the amount of money at stake, any challenge is likely to be met with force and could result in significant intercartel violence. And of course, such potential for violence is of major concern to the many legitimate businesses that use Mexican ports for shipping.
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« Reply #478 on: August 05, 2017, 06:57:16 PM »

segundo post del dia

Mexico: Lawmakers Propose Reforms to Piece Together a Fractured Congress
(Stratfor)
Connections

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Mexico's ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) proposed reforms to federal legislation that could lead to a coalition government by 2018. The purpose of legalizing a coalition government is to overcome logistical challenges posed by Mexico's political fragmentation. Since the 1990s, Mexico's political landscape splintered as several competing parties gained seats at the expense of the PRI. The PRI, which once held virtually all major elected offices in Mexico, now jostles with the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and the more leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) for power in Congress . Meanwhile, former Federal District Head of Government Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, formed his own party, the National Regeneration Movement, for the 2018 presidential campaign, which threatens to further divide Congress.

Such a fragmented political scene is a potential recipe for a legislative impasse in Congress. Heavy gridlock because of poilitcal divisions has hindered the latter half of President Enrique Pena Nieto's term. Introducing a coalition government that enables opposition parties to hold politically influential Cabinet posts may provide the government with a tool to reduce legislative obstruction from the opposition and pass legislation more easily.

The political reforms, proposed by PRI legislator Manlio Fabio Beltrones, would enable the president to incorporate legislative blocs into a formal coalition. According to the proposal, the president could choose whether to invite legislative blocs into a coalition after putting the coalition up to a congressional vote. The proposed coalition also would have to represent a majority of congressmen. The potential election of Lopez Obrador (who has never held a legislative, governor, or Cabinet position) is another possible reason that PRI is attempting to facilitate a coalition government. Successfully forming a coalition government with Lopez Obrador would allow opposition parties to more directly influence his political agenda.

But the proposed legislative changes, which come less than a year before Mexico's 2018 presidential election, may not make it through Congress. To approve legislation, PRI will have to convince legislators from PAN and PRD that forming a coalition government is in their interest. Time is running out to negotiate, discuss and approve such laws before the 2018 presidential and legislative campaign season heats up. Meanwhile, it's far from certain that the legislation necessary to formalize the creation of a coalition government will make it through Congress in time for the next president to use it.
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« Reply #479 on: August 29, 2017, 09:46:48 AM »

•   Mexico: Mexican government sources told Reuters that their government is studying the possibility of stepping in to replace Venezuelan oil program Petrocaribe if the government of President Nicolas Maduro were to fall. Petrocaribe is a trade initiative that provides subsidized oil to friendly countries. Cuba, a beneficiary of the initiative whose shipments have declined, has already had to limit retail fuel sales and request help from Russia. Mexico’s foreign minister was in Havana last week and reportedly tried to persuade Cuba to help fix Venezuela while reassuring Havana that Mexico will support it if Maduro falls. We need a better understanding of Mexico’s role in this situation. Is this the first sign of a more assertive Mexico?
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« Reply #480 on: September 21, 2017, 07:51:41 PM »

https://www.texasobserver.org/los-zetas-inc-author-mexicos-drug-war-isnt-drugs/
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« Reply #481 on: October 04, 2017, 11:04:17 PM »

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Forecast Update

Stratfor previously forecast that, even if populist Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wins the presidency in 2018, the nation's military-centered public security policies will not change significantly. The release of a document outlining Lopez Obrador's tentative policy positions confirm this overall assessment, although there is room for him to selectively withdraw the armed forces from public security duties.

According to a new policy paper, Mexico's populist presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will deliver few surprises on public security when he officially reveals his platform. On Oct. 3, Mexican news outlet La Politica Online obtained a document outlining domestic and foreign policy priorities for a potential Lopez Obrador administration. The document suggests a Lopez Obrador administration would take a similar approach to public security and fighting cartels as his predecessor, current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The Pena Nieto administration — much like the potential Lopez Obrador administration — has taken note of the military's shortcomings as police officers. The longer they remain deployed to stem the violence from cartels, the more vulnerable they become to corruption. Further complicating matters is the fact that military forces don't operate within a clear legal framework, although military authorities supported legislation to correct this earlier in the year.

Although the policy paper criticizes prior administrations for overreliance on the armed forces to pursue and arrest drug traffickers, it doesn't suggest completely withdrawing troops from their now-permanent deployments. Instead, the paper calls for studies on a possible new force, the National Guard, to replace the military in its domestic security role. In this sense, Lopez Obrador's approach to public security is the same one Pena Nieto took when he entered office in 2013. Nieto attempted to create an auxiliary paramilitary force, called the gendarmerie, to gradually supplant the military. But the force was plagued by the same corruption issues faced by Mexican law enforcement at virtually all levels of government. The gendarmerie was expensive, and it was virtually impossible for the force to supplant the military during Pena Nieto's tenure. In 2015, when Mexico implemented budget cuts, the gendarmerie's lost 25 percent of its funding.

Previous Stratfor analysis said it was unlikely that a Lopez Obrador administration would move away from Mexico's current approach to government security. This development confirms that analysis, but it's important to remember that Lopez Obrador's proposals are not policy yet. If he comes to power, he could still attempt a gradual military withdrawal even without replacing the troops with an alternative force. However, because such movements would worry Washington, it's highly unlikely that Lopez Obrador would tear down the status quo with quick action. The White House has made it clear that border security is a major priority, and Mexico is not about to risk ruining relations with its largest trading partner. 
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« Reply #482 on: October 25, 2017, 12:27:03 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/24/terror-skies-mexican-cartel-attaches-bomb-drone/
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« Reply #483 on: November 27, 2017, 08:14:06 AM »



http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-mexico-housing-es/#nws=mcnewsletter
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« Reply #484 on: December 04, 2017, 09:50:13 PM »

Forecast Update

In Stratfor's 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast, we wrote that U.S. pressure to restructure the North American Free Trade Agreement could push Mexican voters toward populist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Recently, Lopez Obrador suggested he would consider providing amnesty to cartel leaders to stem violence in the country. But considering how vital Mexico's cooperation is to the United States' international counternarcotics strategy, the move wouldn't be accepted lightly by Mexico's northern neighbor.
 
See 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

Mexico's presidential frontrunner has proposed providing amnesty to cartel leaders to reduce violence, but the proposal would be virtually impossible to implement. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made the proposal — which would be a significant departure from previous administrations' approaches to security — during a campaign rally Dec. 2 in Quechultenango, Guerrero state. But it is important to note that the suggestion is just that, a suggestion, and may not translate into actual policy should Lopez Obrador be elected. But even if the candidate does attempt to grant cartel bosses amnesty, a mountain of institutional and logistical obstacles will likely block his efforts.

By claiming that his administration will approach public security differently, Lopez Obrador may be trying to appeal to the rural populations hit hardest by violence in recent years. But just how differently the candidate can actually approach security is an altogether different question. Lopez Obrador has said in the past he would move away from a military-centric security approach but has walked back from that statement in recent months, likely realizing the impracticality of the proposal. Similarly, even if Lopez Obrador believes that amnesty would be an effective option against crime, he will soon be faced with the impracticality of it as well.

Granting amnesty to cartel leaders would encounter stiff resistance — both in Mexico and in the United States. Mexico's cooperation against organized crime is a key part of the United States' international counternarcotics strategy and domestic security policies —particularly under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. As president, Lopez Obrador and his administration would have to carefully weigh the benefits of negotiating to demobilize criminal groups against the risk of antagonizing a security-minded U.S. presidential administration. In addition, amnesty proposals would lead to major domestic political resistance. And if the Mexican Congress determined that an amnesty law were necessary to demobilize criminal groups, passing such legislation would be all but impossible.

Even if it were legally possible to grant criminal groups amnesty in Mexico, choosing which criminals to give amnesty to would risk opening a Pandora's box full of unending requests and pressure from various criminal organizations. Mexico's criminal landscape has fragmented over the past decade, as several large cartels have broken apart under law enforcement pressure and years of turf battles. Granting any particular group amnesty in Mexico would not guarantee any immediate public security benefits.

A comparison could be drawn to the Colombian government's peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In Colombia, the FARC's internal unity and hierarchical structure helped reduce militant attacks virtually overnight after the group enforced a unilateral ceasefire in July 2015. In Mexico, criminal gangs are highly decentralized and are driven by profit rather than ideology, which could hinder any government-sponsored negotiation to significantly curb violence at a national level. Still, Lopez Obrador's amnesty proposal cannot be dismissed. After all, it is a policy option proposed by Mexico's presidential frontrunner. There are enough obstacles to the successful implementation of any amnesty deal, however, that the attempts would likely fail.
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« Reply #485 on: December 08, 2017, 11:52:41 PM »

Highlights

    Long-term political and economic factors in Mexico have created fertile ground for a populist presidential candidate such as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
    Lopez Obrador's rise as a leading candidate in 2018 has been spurred by the decadeslong diversification of Mexico's political system, deep-seated economic grievances and more recent events in U.S.-Mexican relations.
    Even if Lopez Obrador loses next year's election, Mexico's political system is becoming more competitive and the results of future elections will be more uncertain.

Mexico's gradual move toward populism has made headlines for more than a year. The foreign press in particular has reported extensively on the popularity of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, creating a narrative of a recent, inexorable leftward shift among Mexican voters. The underlying reality is far more complicated. Lopez Obrador's popular approval is the product of Mexico's enduring, widespread poverty and steadily diversifying political landscape, among other broader, longer-term trends. It's also the result of prevailing, discrete events, such as the Mexican government's perceived complacency when faced with U.S. threats during talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. These dynamics will likely create a competitive presidential election in 2018, in which Lopez Obrador or a challenger from a traditional party such as the National Action Party (PAN) or the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) could narrowly clinch power. In keeping with recent history, however, whoever wins next year's election will enter office relatively weak and will struggle to implement populist policies, especially if Congress and the country's economic elites disagree with them.

A Slow Change Coming

Lopez Obrador's populist message clearly resonates with a political minority in Mexico. According to recent polls, nearly a third of Mexican voters would be willing to vote for him in July 2018. This receptiveness to populism is not a recent trend, however; it even predates Lopez Obrador's previous presidential runs in 2006 and 2012. The PRI, for example, was far more populist when it emerged in the 1920s after the Mexican revolution than it is now under President Enrique Pena Nieto. Historically, poverty and corruption have created fertile ground for populist political messages, but in recent decades, as Mexico became more economically intertwined with the United States, political leaders' enthusiasm for populism waned and the country's political parties began to favor business-friendly technocrats for president. For two decades, presidential leadership in Mexico has been primarily about keeping the status quo in domestic politics and foreign affairs, particularly in international trade.
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« Reply #486 on: December 15, 2017, 07:30:35 PM »

Called this a year ago in an email to Crafty.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mexico-violence/mexico-enshrines-armys-role-in-drug-war-with-divisive-law-idUKKBN1E91JO

Elections in Mexico may soon come under military rule.  



« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 07:34:21 PM by DDF » Logged

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« Reply #487 on: December 21, 2017, 07:21:59 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/world/americas/mexico-corruption-pri.html?emc=edit_na_20171220&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0
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« Reply #488 on: January 09, 2018, 12:06:44 PM »

How Instability in Central America Affects US-Mexico Relations
Jan 9, 2018

 
By Allison Fedirka

In Central America, organized crime, street violence and civil unrest are nothing new. The most recent example of civil unrest comes from Honduras, where demonstrators have been protesting the president’s controversial re-election in November after a court approved changes to the constitution to allow presidents to run for a second term.
The area known as the Northern Triangle – consisting of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – has been particularly marred by instability and violent crime, leading many to flee to the United States. In response, the U.S. is tightening immigration and border controls. This week, U.S. officials said 200,000 Salvadorans who had been allowed to come to the U.S. legally would have to leave the country. The program that allowed citizens from other Central American countries to also live in the U.S. is now under review because the administration claims it has been subject to abuse. Thus, security issues in the countries of the Northern Triangle are no longer mainly domestic problems; they are impacting the U.S. as well and its relationship with Mexico, a gateway to the U.S. for many Central American immigrants, increasingly making the violence and instability there a geopolitical issue.

Central America is linked to the international system largely through its ties to the United States, the world’s only super power, and Mexico, an emerging power. The region is composed of seven countries (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) that cover 202,230 square miles (523,770 square kilometers) with a total population of about 48 million. The combined gross domestic product of these countries in 2016 was $244.67 billion, roughly equal to Chile’s total GDP and just under a quarter of Mexico’s. The region is a narrow strip of land between North America and South America bounded by seas on either side. Due to their small size, isolation from the rest of the world and low incomes, Central American countries project very little power.
 
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Nevertheless, the region played an active role in international affairs during a couple of points in modern history. Since issuing the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States sought to keep foreign powers out of the Americas and to grow its regional influence. The U.S., however, was in no position to expand its power into this area until after the Spanish-American War, which the U.S. won. At that point, Spain no longer controlled Cuba, the Greater Republic of Central America had dissolved into individual countries and Mexico found itself still writhing from internal turmoil. The U.S. seized the opportunity to expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere using policies consistent with the Roosevelt Corollary, an extension of the Monroe Doctrine, including establishing business ties and military intervention. Washington’s hold over Central America in the early part of the 20th century marked its rise as the dominant power in North America.

Central America also played an important role in the proxy battle between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The region proved particularly valuable for the Soviets because of its proximity to the United States. As the U.S. chipped away at Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, the Soviets did the same in Central America. As a result, the region was rife with civil wars and foreign-backed dictatorships for decades.

When the Cold War ended, Central America no longer posed a threat to the U.S., and U.S. interest in the region began to wane. The U.S. managed to maintain influence over the Americas largely uncontested, and developments there had little impact on the United States.

This is now starting to change. In the past decade, the countries of the Northern Triangle have become known for rampant street, gang and drug violence. The area has one of the highest murder rates in the world outside of designated war zones. In 2016, El Salvador had 91 homicides per 100,000 people, while Honduras had 59 and Guatemala had 23. By comparison, the United States’ homicide rate was 5 per 100,000 people.

Violence, however, cannot be easily contained within borders. Many organized crime groups that have roots in the violence in Central America also operate throughout North America. MS13, for example, is a notorious gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, and it’s now active in many parts of Central America and the United States. Drugs from South America also find their way to U.S. markets through conflict-prone countries in Central America. Displaced by the violence, people have been fleeing the region in record numbers, and the United States is their primary destination. Since 2011, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have been among the top source countries for legal and illegal immigration from Latin American countries to the United States. According to a Pew report released in December, the number of immigrants from these three countries to the U.S. nearly doubled from 60,000 in 2011 to 115,000 in 2014.

More often than not, immigrants from this region enter the U.S. illegally. As of 2015, an estimated 1.65 million of the 3 million immigrants from the Northern Triangle had entered illegally. And many arrive in the U.S. through Mexico. In fact, the majority of immigrants entering the U.S. from the Mexican border are no longer Mexicans.
 
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As the United States imposes stricter controls on immigration and border crossing, particularly from those regions that could be seen as a security threat, it is bound to increase pressure on Mexico to tighten its own controls. The U.S. push to limit immigration includes its elimination of temporary protection status for immigrants from Central American countries – primarily Honduras and El Salvador.

The U.S. and Mexico have cooperated on border control issues for decades, as the U.S. depends on support from Mexican authorities to protect its southern border. Mexico stops 40-50 percent of the immigrants attempting to cross the border to the U.S., and both countries have worked with Northern Triangle countries to help improve local security forces and economic conditions. But in the past year or two, immigration from Central America has become a bigger issue between the U.S. and Mexico, as Washington makes it increasingly clear that its solution to the Central America immigration problem is to try to block people from crossing the border and to threaten to deport them. This in turn will place a heavier burden on Mexico to address the security issues in the Northern Triangle. Mexico may not have the resources necessary to deal with these issues now, but in time it will be forced to become more involved.

The shift in the U.S. approach to Central America, from indifference following the Cold War to intensifying interest today, makes the region more geopolitically relevant. But this relevance is derived not necessarily from developments in the region itself but from the region’s ability to impact relations between the U.S. and Mexico. The more the U.S. tries to stem Central American immigration, the more Mexico will feel the pressure to become engaged. But Mexico has its own organized crime problem to deal with and can’t spare resources on the Northern Triangle. These countries will need billions of dollars in development funding – not exactly petty cash for the Mexican government. With instability at its doorstep, Mexico will be forced to respond in some way, but its options will be limited.
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« Reply #489 on: January 10, 2018, 09:04:10 AM »

Welcome to the Interpreter newsletter, by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, who write a column by the same name.

This newsletter is the first of a three-part experiment based on our story on Mexican towns and cities that are dealing with public corruption and record violence by effectively seceding from the state. We’ll recount what it was like to report on each town, which we visited last year, and offer our thoughts on its larger lesson for Mexico and the world. Let us know what you think: interpreter@nytimes.com.



What We Learn When Corporate Elites Take Partial Control in a Major City — and Then Lose It
 

A restaurant in San Pedro Garza García, an affluent enclave of Monterrey, Mexico. Outside the city’s wealthy areas, violence and corruption daily are often part of the daily routine. Brett Gundlock for the New York Times

We came to Monterrey, a rich commercial city, with many questions. But there was one we asked over and over because we just could not believe the answer we kept getting.  Are you really okay with local business leaders seizing control of the police?

We asked rich and poor. We asked in corporate offices and community outreach centers. We asked activists and government officials. We asked a man who’d been forced from his home by criminals. We asked a nun.

Always the same impatient yes.

We tried explaining our incredulity. If top CEOs in Washington, where we were living, took over local police departments, reformed police practices top-to-bottom and paid for cops’ salaries and housing, then it wouldn’t really matter if crime dropped. There would still be something fundamentally uncomfortable about the heads of local aerospace and defense firms effectively running public security — and tehre would almost certainly be an outcry.

Finally, Armando Torjes, a community activist in the working-class suburb of Guadalupe, cleared it up for us.

No one much minded business people acting like politicians because, he said, the real problem was politicians acting like business people.

“It’s not that businessmen are bad people, they’re just getting all the privileges. They should be giving back,” he said as his mother, also an activist, served us lemonade in his living room.

“We have this political class that totally forgets why they are there. Suddenly it’s all about the possibility of business,” he said, referring to rampant political corruption.
We were starting to see what he meant. Monterrey’s problem wasn’t just crime. It was institutional breakdown at nearly every level of government, which allowed corruption to become the norm, including among police officers who sometimes beat citizens and extort money from them just as brazenly as did the drug gangs.
Fixing crime required fixing corruption, which required fixing the state.

That was also the conclusion reached by Monterrey’s business leaders. Except instead of fixing the state, they would cut it out.

Jorge Tello, a former head of Mexico’s intelligence agency and now a big man about town, met us at his private lunch club, just across from city hall, to tell us how it’d all happened.

“The first meeting I remember was with the governor at Lorenzo’s office,” Mr. Tello said, referring to Lorenzo Zambrano, the head of Cemex and unofficial leader of Monterrey’s business community until his death in 2014.

Drug cartels, after years of ravaging poorer communities, had begun to target the richest of the rich.

“The governor was the one to say: ‘You need to help me. I cannot do it by myself,’” Mr. Tello recounted. It was a tacit admission of the state’s weakness.

o get what happened next, you need to understand Monterrey’s peculiar corporate culture. It is one part worldly Davos elite, one part 1980s Wall Streeters working from their beach home in Florida (lots of men with tan suits, manicures and perfect hair) and three parts cowboy culture, which suffuses this part of Mexico.

Mr. Zambrano, who was peppery but aristocratic, agreed to lead a reform effort that grew into a takeover of local police forces. But first he would ensure that Monterrey’s executives would remain to help lead — and, crucially, to fund — the effort. Some were already considering a move to nearby Houston.

So Mr. Zambrano posted a tweet that Monterrey’s business leaders still cite as a call to arms. It read, translated into English: “Whoever leaves Monterrey is a coward. They must fight for what we believe. We must return to our great city!”

After a few years, community leaders like Mr. Torjes saw an improvement. As an experimental new police force moved into the streets, backed by the executives, crime and reports of police brutality dropped.

The reforms were an academic’s dream. Juan Salgado, a governance expert at the CIDE, a Mexico City university, called the new force “very impressive.”

“What they did was create comprehensive community police services,” he said, detailing reforms that benefited from the CEOs’ largess and as well their ability to skip the usual political corruption and horse trading.

But then, he said, “there was a change in the government.”

No one in official or corporate Monterrey likes to talk about what happened in 2015. No one except for Mr. Tello, who said it was important that the city face what had happened.

“I’m getting mad,” he said. “Things are going to get worse.”

The governor left office that year. (He later faced embezzlement charges, which we mention only to underscore that official corruption is just pervasive.) Monterrey’s executives, maybe a little taken with their newfound autonomy, backed an independent candidate whom they expected would be even more pliant.

But the new governor, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, turned out not to be pliant. He has mixed fiery populist language with old-style patronage. Reforms have lapsed and crime has returned.

Mr. Torjes, the activist from the working class-suburb, argued that the real problem wasn’t the governor himself but a political system in which reforms never seem to stick.
“Every politician comes in and brings something new,” he said; a complaint we heard from activists and academics across Mexico. “You never know if something is going to last past the next election.”

This was our big realization from our time in Monterrey. The Mexican state — which oversees the world’s tenth-largest population and 14th-largest landmass — is perilously weak.

Its institutions are too weak to fix the crime and corruption tearing away at society. They’re too weak even to maintain a fix that, as in Monterrey, is already working.
“It’s quite different than if you talk about well-developed countries with strong institutions,” Mr. Tello said. In countries like the United States, he added, “it doesn’t matter what kind of mess you have at the top of the political structure because you have strong institutions.”


Monterrey’s business leaders had tried to install their corporations as replacement institutions. But they fell victim to the same institutional weaknesses they’d tried to fix. With little in the way of a civil service, a simple change in governor destabilized everything.

That might seem like a technical or abstract lesson, but it’s one that should concern everybody, and not just in Mexico. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the health of our institutions; they’re boring, opaque and largely unseen. But maybe we should think about them.

Many of the biggest stories in the last year — ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, democratic backsliding in Turkey, regime change in Zimbabwe, a destabilizing power struggle in Saudi Arabia — come down, in part, to weak institutions. They are the guardrails meant to keep government orderly, capable and self-policing. Without them, you have corruption, instability, power grabs and leaders whose incentives do not align with the public good.

Even in the developed countries that Mr. Tello called categorically different, institutional health can’t be taken for granted. Spain has been destabilized by a secession movement led by some of its own regional institutions. Hungary and Poland, unchecked by courts and legislatures that have grown weak, are backsliding into authoritarianism. American diplomats, aghast at the gutting of the State Department, warn that American power in the world could be set back by a generation.

Many of Mexico’s leaders, like Monterrey’s business elite, hardly noticed their country’s institutional decline until they started feeling the effects personally. By then, it was too late.




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« Reply #490 on: January 13, 2018, 12:50:05 PM »

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« Reply #491 on: January 14, 2018, 04:15:31 PM »



Why This Mexican Town Has Us Worrying About the Future of Political Parties
 

Police officers in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl. Brett Gundlock for the New York Times

When we talk to political scientists who study American democracy about what worries them most — and they worry about many things these days — their answer is often political parties.

Whatever you think of President Trump, they argue, he has exposed the frailty of the Republican party, which tried and failed to stop his nomination. The party has since bent on core issues, especially those related to the Russia investigation. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties, scholars argue, have grown dangerously weak, unable to play their informal but crucial role as institutional checks on power; as guardrails of democracy.

That was on our minds when we arrived in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, a million-person suburb of Mexico City, which has effectively seceded from Mexico’s party system.
Neza, as it is known, is gritty and working class, a sprawl of short concrete buildings. But it is a quiet success story. As crime and corruption skyrocket nationally, especially in surrounding areas, they’ve remained stable or even declined here.

When we asked Neza locals and officials how they did it, they pointed to Jorge Amador, the police chief who looks and talks as if he wandered into the job after getting lost on his way to a faculty meeting.

Mr. Amador, whose background is in sociology and water management, imposed policy changes that, sweeping and sometimes eccentric, might be impossible elsewhere. He set up literature programs and chess classes. He restructured the force to emphasize community engagement. He fired 100-plus officers suspected of corruption or brutality.

So was Mr. Amador the key to Neza's success? After some time in Neza (and a lot of time with Mexican academics) we came to a different conclusion. Or, at least, a broader one. Neza’s secret was breaking from the Mexican party system, which is what made Mr. Amador’s hiring and reforms possible.

Mexico’s establishment political parties are beyond troubled. They are a dangerous combination of super-strong — are they tightly control institutions that have few career civil servants — and super-weak. They are riven with corruption, patronage and nepotism. They have the power to enforce internal loyalty but not to perform basic institutional functions.

“You don’t have any institution or agency that is capable of forcing the parties to cooperate and forcing them to be honest and fair. And that is a huge problem,” said Joy Langston, a political scientist at the CIDE, a Mexico City university.

“They are very much able to negotiate reforms that make them even stronger and give them even more distance from voters,” she said, adding that this means parties have shrinking incentive to think about policies that will help voters, or to think about policy at all.

Neza is different; it is run by the left-wing P.R.D., rather than either of the establishment parties.

Most P.R.D. holds are not like Neza. They, too, see upticks in crime and corruption. But because the P.R.D. exists outside of the mainstream party system, an official like Mr. Amador is at least freer to root out corruption or experiment with unorthodox reforms.  At the same time, however, he cannot turn for help or policy expertise from state or federal institutions. So he is walking a tightrope without a net. And  not all of his policies have worked.

After years of relatively undisturbed experimentation, Neza has become something like an open-air experiment in social engineering. The goal is to so enamor the police of their civic responsibility that they will decide to refuse the money they could make extorting civilians or aiding drug gangs, as is common in much of Mexico.

In August, we attended one of the twice-annual awards ceremonies that Mr. Amador holds for the police. Of the 700 officers in attendance, half would receive some sort of prize and cash reward. Family members in the audience waved supportive signs. In an Oprah-style twist, and to cheers even she might envy, six officers were each granted bonuses worth four months pay. It felt like a pep rally.

“At the beginning, people don’t trust you, they are very defensive,” said Diana Hernandez, one of the community officers assigned to monitor a small patch of streets — another experiment.

She understands, she said. Growing up, her family rarely called the police, seeing them as bound to bring more trouble. Now, she said, “People recognize me on the street. That they know me really makes me feel good about this.”

Neighborhood watch groups, set up to coordinate with police, are provided with police cameras, alarm systems and direct lines to the patrol cars.  But their longer-term purpose, Mr. Amador said, is to create public buy-in for his reforms “so that it doesn’t matter who’s in the mayor’s office.”

In a way, he is seeking to replicate the functions of a political party: grass-roots mobilization, civil society allies and institutionalized policies. It’s a big idea, but a reminder that trying to reform the police and society without real institutional support is a bit like writing in the sand.

“It’s fragile, this experiment,” Guillermo Valdés, a former head of the national intelligence agency, said. Establishing it “has been a long process and a slow one,” requiring time and freedom that doesn’t exist for most Mexican officials constrained by the party system.

Policing experts we spoke to generally gave Neza high marks, as did Mr. Valdés.

Juan Salgado, also with the CIDE, said the city had achieved “great successes,” in part by sidestepping civil society organizations, which, like so much in Mexico, tend to dominated by the establishment parties.

Still, not everyone has been sold. Antia Mendoza, a Mexico City-based security expert, said Neza’s officials had not proven a link between Mr. Amador’s reforms and the crime rate. And she saw little proof the community networks were working.

And Neza is hardly an oasis of safety. The day before the police awards, our photographer visited Neza to find the main traffic circle shut down by a public brawl. When we spent some time in the police command center, which includes dozens of new-looking TV screens displaying feeds from hundreds of street cameras, the officers watched helplessly as a car chase zipped across the screens.

Still, in a way, the most important thing may not be how well Mr. Amador’s reforms worked but the fact that he had space to try them at all, and for years at a time. That level of freedom, particularly to purge corruption, is rare in Mexican policymaking. It’s a major problem for Mexico, constricting officials in a time of national crisis.

That, for us, was Neza’s lesson: not the presence of reforms, but the absence of party-imposed constraints. It made us look differently at the rest of Mexico, where those constraints can be suffocating.

It made us think about Europe’s mainstream parties, which are the least popular they’ve been in years, giving rise to smaller and less professionalized fringe parties. It made us think about the global rise in populist parties, which often reject policy expertise and institutions as untrustworthy “deep state” elites. And it made us think about American parties that have been hollowed out by polarization and other factors.

Mexico’s political parties are, in many ways, particular to Mexico and its history. They are legacies of the country’s revolutionary past and its recent emergence from single-party rule. The degree to which they are failing is exceptional. But the ways that they are failing are not.




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« Reply #492 on: January 17, 2018, 08:50:57 AM »



How Do You Build a State Up From Nothing?
 

Militias, funded by Tancítaro’s avocado growers, patrolling a local orchard. Brett Gundlock for the New York Times

There is something intoxicatingly utopian about the story of Tancítaro.

This small town has succeeded at self-rule in a part of Mexico — the state of Michoacán, drug war ground zero — where so many similar experiments have failed. It is free of the drug cartels as well as the Mexican police and politicians who are widely seen as part of the problem. It has homegrown institutions. It is safe.
“It’s a nice town. You can walk around at day or night. It’s very nice,” Guillermo Valdés, a former head of Mexico’s national intelligence agency, told us this August. “They take care of themselves.”

Mr. Valdés told us about Tancítaro at the end of a long interview at a Mexico City café, where we had met him to discuss towns that were seceding in subtler ways. It was the sort of comment sometimes made after the formal questions have ended and the notebooks have closed, the casual aside that changes the whole story.

He’d recently visited Tancítaro for a book he was writing on the drug war and found its experiment in self-rule intriguing. It’s a global center in avocado production, exporting about $1 million worth every day. The orchard owners use that money to fund militias that guard and police the town.

But the more we heard about Tancítaro, the more that something seemed off. Something Mr. Valdés said stuck with us: “They expelled all the criminals.”

O.K., but how did they separate criminals from innocents? Who did the selection? There’s a version of this that sounds like frontier justice, rough but fair, and there’s a version that resembles towns controlled by drug cartels.

“It’s very hard to believe that Tancítaro is just this island of peace and perfect transparency in Michoacán,” said Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, who studies Central American security issues at Noria Research and has visited the town.

Falko Ernst, his colleague at the think tank, added, “You have an armed group acting on behalf of the real political authority, the grower’s council” — a body of wealthy orchard owners — “doing the cleansing in their name and in their interests.”

The more we learned about Tancítaro, the less utopian and the more dystopian it sounded.

But the truth, or at least what we came to understand of it, wasn’t exactly one or the other. And it wasn’t somewhere in the middle, either. It was, or seemed to be, both utopia and dystopia simultaneously.

Tancítaro is indeed pretty safe. The first evening that Dalia Martínez, a Michoacán-based journalist who worked with us on this article, visited town, there was a big street festival with families out. The streets were, as Mr. Valdés had said, safe, even at night. They were clean.

The avocado orchards were safe as well, guarded by another set of uniformed militias. There was a palpable change at the town’s perimeter, marking the edge of what militiamen called “tierra caliente” — hot ground, meaning cartel territory. The avocado trade appears to be booming.  But after a few days of scratching beneath the surface, it became clear that Tancítaro had become very good at providing security, but had developed almost none of the other basic functions of a state.

Cinthia Garcia Nieves, a community organizer who moved here to try to help build real institutions, described efforts to build community justice mechanisms and citizen councils. She had hoped that they would turn into something like a justice system and, if not a democratic government, at least a way for citizens to get involved.  But both had stalled, she said; power still rested with the militias. “Authority has become blurred, in a way. So then who gets legitimized? Who is really an authority?”

Her question made us think of very different sorts of places where deep-pocketed landowners had imposed quasi-governance by hiring bands of armed men. Another word for that is a warlord, which we use not as a value judgment but as a definitional matter.

We think of warlords as agents of evil and violence, and often they are, but just as often they are symptoms of state breakdown. Warlords are what happens when state failure, access to natural resources and the safety of a local population overlap.

Mexico is neither a failed state nor close to becoming one. But in some pockets of the country its institutions have broken down enough to reproduce conditions that partly resemble state failure. That includes the area around Tancítaro, which is rich is natural resources. The people who have access to those resources used them to achieve a monopoly on violence, creating enough stability to sustain their access to those resources. They became warlords.

Living under warlords is not the same as living under a state, no matter how many citizen councils you set up. Their rule is, by definition, arbitrary and unaccountable. Because they legitimize their rule through violence, the threat of violence hangs over everything.  But living under warlords is still better, in at least some ways, than living in anarchy, which is a bit closer to describing life in the surrounding areas, where the state is only partly present and criminal gangs fill the void.

There is a famous political science paper — one of Amanda’s favorites, and an inspiration for our coverage of Mexico — called “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime.” Its author, Charles Tilly, traces how medieval European warlords and racketeers gradually evolved, over several centuries, into today’s modern states.

Variations of this theory are increasingly applied to Afghanistan. Scholars like Dipali Mukhopadhyay of Columbia University and Frances Z. Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argue that Afghan warlords — who provide the closest thing to stable governance in parts of the country — could one day build a state from the bottom up.

But this is a process that takes generations, if it works at all, Ms. Mukhopadhyay told us last year for an article on Afghanistan. It involves a lot of hardship and pain in the meantime. And it worked in medieval Europe in part because nascent states could develop for centuries, relatively unchallenged.

What can make this harder, Ms. Mukhopadhyay pointed out, is when there is still just enough of a central state to oppose these warlord-driven movements in organic statebuilding. That’s been happening for years in Afghanistan, where the United States sometimes pushes the central government to challenge warlords for authority, and other years pushes the government to tolerate them.

It seems likely that that will be Michoacán’s future as well. The government is plenty strong enough to reassert authority over Tancítaro, much as it did a few years ago in less functional militia-run areas of the state.

The government has declined to do so, Mr. Ernst suggested, for fear that disturbing Tancítaro’s safety and avocado revenue would be too politically risky. But that calculus could always change.

Tancítaro is, for us, a microcosm of a problem that is manifesting around much of the world today, driving many of its worst crises: pockets of warlordism within a functional state. Those warlords help the state by providing local stability, but they also implicitly challenge its authority.  The state and the warlord can develop an accord that will allow the warlord to one day incorporate his or her territory into the state. Or, far more common, they can compete for control, often leading to violence. This opens space for organized crime — mafias that often now have global reach — and inhibits countries from coalescing into unified states.

And it’s much more common than you might think, playing out in chunks of Central America and Southeast Asia, in gang-controlled neighborhoods of major South American cities, and in much of the Middle East. Sometimes it does work out, as it might be in parts of West Africa and the former Yugoslavia where warlords are increasingly joining the state, though this peacemaking can come at terrible cost.

We hope you find this dynamic as fascinating as we do, because we’re hoping to cover it more over the coming year.

Ms. Nieves said she hoped that Tancítaro’s experiment could congeal into something stabler and more responsive. Still, she said, she worried about whether its ad hoc, informal practices could ever function in the absence of real institutions. That is also Ms. Mukhopadhyay’s concern for Afghanistan, and ours for so many place we’ve covered. But it can be hard to find a better way.




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How Violence in Mexico Shapes Relations With the US
Jan 25, 2018

 
Summary

Violence in Mexico is on the rise, multiple reports show, stoking alarm both inside and outside the country. Though violence doesn’t have inherent geopolitical significance, it becomes significant when it has the potential to fundamentally alter a country’s economic trajectory, political system and international relations. In the case of Mexico, reports of increasing violence, particularly organized crime-related violence, merit a closer look because Mexico is an emerging market and harbors ambitions to get out from under the thumb of the United States.

The violence in Mexico also raises the issue of the potential for spillover into the U.S., since this would likely lead to a redefinition of the bilateral relationship. Other places in the world have higher rates of violence than Mexico, but greater scrutiny is placed on Mexico because of its proximity to the U.S. and the impact violence may have on Mexico’s emergence as an economic power.

Rising Violence and Drug Trafficking

To understand the potential impact, we must first understand the types of violence in Mexico. Media reports focus on intentional homicides as well as kidnappings, extortion and armed robberies. In tracking homicides, Mexico distinguishes between homicides in which the perpetrator intentionally seeks the death of the victim and homicides that result from reckless or negligent behavior without the intention of causing death.

Intentional homicides set a new record last year. The previous record of 22,409 was set in 2011. The number of intentional homicides had declined each year since then, but the trend reversed in 2015. In 2017, there were 25,339 intentional homicides, a 23 percent increase from the previous year and 13 percent higher than the old record.

Drug trafficking organizations are often blamed for the rise in violence in Mexico. The official statistics do not differentiate between drug- or organized crime-related killings and other homicides, but some types of homicides are characteristic of the criminal and drug trafficking organizations, or DTOs, in Mexico. Homicides involving guns – which was about two-thirds of the homicides in 2017 – have a high probability of being related to organized crime or drug traffickers. Extortion and kidnapping, along with human trafficking and sales of stolen cars, are also associated with DTOs. It is not a coincidence that the states with the most homicides and kidnappings per month and the greatest increases in homicides per month are those with a strong presence of drug trafficking activity. The high-profile victims are typically journalists and politicians, who are attractive targets for organized crime groups. Further, anecdotal evidence of mass graves, dismembered bodies, decapitations and bodies found with narco messaging all point to the work of DTOs.

Homicides in Mexico do not occur uniformly across the large territory. Baja California, Guerrero, Mexico state, Veracruz and Chihuahua rank as the most violent states with the highest incidents of intentional homicide. Other states with high homicide totals are Sinaloa, Michoacan and Jalisco. In other states, such as Colima, the number of registered homicides are low, but they have a dramatic effect due to the small population. Colima registered 93.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017. Baja California Sur ranks second with 69.1 deaths per 100,000 people. For perspective, the national homicide rate in Mexico is about 20.8 per 100,000 people. Other states that have lower homicide rates have noted a faster increase in those rates. Last year, intentional homicide cases rose 550 percent in Nayarit, 116 percent in Aguascalientes and 118 percent in Quintana Roo. Overall, 26 of Mexico’s 32 states recorded an increase in homicide rates in 2017.
 
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As for kidnappings and extortion, the number of reported incidents has increased in the past two years, but not as quickly as homicides. Both peaked in 2013, with 1,688 kidnappings and 8,213 extortion cases, and then dropped significantly over the next two years. However, since 2015, the number of reported incidents has slowly increased. In 2017 there were 1,484 reported kidnappings and 5,649 extortion cases, both surpassing 2016 totals. Meanwhile, local human rights organizations and other observers say there is reason to believe these incidents are under-reported. Given the nature of extortion and due to anomalies observed in the data from Mexico state, those organizations may be correct.

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Drug Trafficking Organizations and Organized Crime

The main reasons for the spike in violence are the splintering, restructuring and growing competition among the DTOs and other organized crime groups in Mexico. This fragmentation had its roots in the presidency of Felipe Calderon (2006-12), who from day one adopted an aggressive stance on drug cartels. His “kingpin strategy” focused on killing or imprisoning the heads of major cartels, which followed a hierarchical model with strong familial and neighborhood ties.

Calderon’s approach led to a surge in homicide rates from 2006 to 2011 because it created power vacuums within groups and provoked turf wars and cycles of revenge killings. In addition, security operations began targeting these illegal groups. Over the past 11 years, Mexico’s military, which has more training and better equipment than local police, has become more involved in fighting organized crime.

The current criminal organization landscape is exceptionally fluid. Many groups operate more on a local cell-based level, and their association with other groups may shift with business interests. Many of these groups not only are involved in drug trafficking but also engage in other profitable crimes, including kidnapping, assassination, auto theft, prostitution, extortion, money laundering, software piracy, resource theft and human trafficking. Some criminal organizations have incorporated areas of specialization. For instance, some DTOs on the U.S. border have assumed the role of toll collectors, exacting payment from other traffickers, while other organizations specialize in sourcing cocaine from South America. Still others focus on transit routes within Mexico and other ways to either facilitate the drug trade or augment their profits through lower-risk activities.

The number of large DTOs jumped from four in 2006 to nine in 2017, and another 45 smaller organized crime groups have been identified. Their structure is more like a consortium, where groups are different sizes and specialize in various business activities. For example, La Linea and Los Aztecas are two distinct local criminal groups that fall under the umbrella of the Juarez cartel.

Though the Sinaloa cartel is the largest and most powerful DTO in Mexico, the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which broke off from the Sinaloa cartel in 2010, has become formidable over the past two years. In a short time it has grown and strengthened enough to compete for space, resources and markets. Given the increasing overlap of territories and resources, clashes with other DTOs become more frequent and intense. This is also the case for smaller groups that may act independently or fall under larger DTOs. Some of these groups stay in the drug business, while smaller, local criminal groups remain engaged in other criminal activity such as the illicit gasoline trade. When Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, assumed office in December 2012, security officials estimated there were 80 to 90 smaller criminal groups in operation. The latest estimates put the number at 45, which means there still are many players competing for business in the black market.
 
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Economic Impact

Mexico needs to address the violence of DTOs for domestic economic reasons and to maintain its relationship with the United States. Violence and crime cost Mexico approximately 18 percent of its gross domestic product, according to a 2017 report by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The figure factors in a wide range of related costs, including spending on security by the government and businesses and lost income due to a homicide in the family. In terms of government spending, the institute estimates that Mexico spends 6.8 percent of its GDP to help contain violence nationwide.

Growing violence may also discourage investment, according to the Bank of Mexico. The bank recently ranked Mexico’s security as 5.5 on a scale of 1-7, with 7 representing the greatest risk to investment. Private sector estimates indicate that investments may fall by up to 5 percent because of violence, with impacts already being noted anecdotally.

Despite those warnings, a large-scale exodus of companies from Mexico in response to violence has not occurred. Many businesses there understand the security risks and factor in those costs. The point at which violence becomes intolerable will largely depend on the companies’ ability to operate profitably over the long term. Any prolonged decline in revenue or absence of investment would, of course, hurt the economy.

Relations With the U.S.

In terms of foreign policy, the violence in Mexico will primarily affect its relationship with the United States. Besides their shared border, the U.S. is the main destination for Mexican-produced opium and for cocaine transited through Mexico, and is the source of illegal weapons for Mexico’s DTOs. Drug trafficking between the two countries dates back to the early 20th century when the first opium shipments from Sinaloa made their way into the United States. Shortly thereafter, alcohol flowed to the U.S. in the wake of the Prohibition Act of 1919. The products and tactics for doing business may have changed, but not the business of smuggling.

The Mexican DTOs are the major wholesalers of illegal drugs in the United States and are increasingly gaining control of U.S. retail-level distribution through alliances with U.S. gangs. Street gangs continue to work with Mexican DTOs in Mexico, along the southwest border, and throughout the United States. These relationships are based more on location and personal and business ties than on strict affiliations with a given gang.

Mexican DTOs conduct business with a much lower profile in the U.S. than they do in Mexico to avoid engaging with security officials. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Assessment notes the absence of significant spillover violence in the United States. Violence that does occur is infrequent, localized on the southwest border and mostly among traffickers. Mexican DTO activity in the United States is mainly overseen by Mexican nationals or U.S. citizens of Mexican origin. Those operating in the United States often share familial ties with, or can be traced back to, the natal region of leading cartel figures in Mexico.
 
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The U.S. and Mexico have worked closely together on border security, particularly since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But current tensions surrounding trade and immigration policies between the two countries make border security cooperation less straightforward, and the ability to strengthen such cooperation is no longer a singular issue. There is minimal spillover violence right now, but any change that causes spillover violence to rise would have massive political and geopolitical effects. The U.S. government is already studying measures for increased border controls and justifying them by vilifying Mexico. An actual spillover of violence would empower those in the United States advocating tighter border security. Right now, the U.S.-Mexico border allows for the relatively easy, free flow of trade and persons. A strong, controlled border would redefine the basic structure of this bilateral relationship.

The U.S., for its part, can try to pressure Mexico to take stronger action or pursue particular security measures. The point of leverage for this would not be a wall, as President Donald Trump has urged, since that would not be effective or practical. President Richard Nixon effectively shut down the U.S. border for several weeks in September 1969 in an attempt to stem the flow of drugs. The closed border killed local business but did little to impact the drug flow.

Perhaps more effective for the U.S. would be to limit or hinder remittances. Remittances to Mexico from people in the U.S. help to sustain or augment household income nationwide. The most recent figures from the Bank of Mexico show that from January to November 2017, remittances totaled $26.1 billion, and the year is poised to see a record high. But the move could backfire. Remittances play an even more important role in households of poorer states – Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca, for example – so cutting off remittances runs the risk of driving more desperate people to join criminal groups and creating controversy within the United States. Still, remittances are a powerful card to play and may be used as a tactic with other bilateral issues, such as NAFTA, that have a greater overall impact on the U.S.

Security Options

Though it is in Mexico’s interest, particularly its economic interest, to stop drug-related violence, the key question becomes: What can the Mexican government do? The short answer is: not much. There are several strategies the Mexican government could pursue, but it faces severe constraints that will limit the effectiveness of any approach.

One obvious strategy is putting an end to criminal groups’ illicit financial activities, primarily drug trafficking and other black market activities, including fuel sales and human trafficking. The problem is that these groups have many alternative routes and means of conducting their business. Shutting down one route, point of entry or source of materials is merely a logistical problem for a criminal group. Criminal organizations have many financial resources as well as experience in logistical planning. To be effective, the government would need to conduct multiple large-scale shutdown operations simultaneously. This would be an extremely costly and difficult endeavor. The government and security forces simply don’t have the manpower and resources to conduct a sustained and effective operation of this magnitude.

Extra resources would have to come from outside the country, and the country best positioned in terms of funding, skills and expertise is the United States. But Mexico cannot accept large-scale U.S. support – especially in manpower – on its own soil. History has proved to Mexico that it must be wary of any foreign presence, that of the U.S. above all others. The government cannot risk the country’s sovereignty or increased dependence on the U.S. Therefore, from Mexico’s position, cooperation with the U.S. is best limited to primarily border cooperation, along with selective training, weapons supplies and funding.

Similarly, the idea of tackling violence by eliminating corruption is a purely theoretical option since it is no secret that, generally speaking, local police and government officials are also corrupt. Prosecution is not guaranteed and is often lax when pursued. Attempts to remove corrupt members of local police departments nationwide have failed, which in part explains why the military has assumed domestic security responsibilities. Though the targeted elimination of high-profile corruption is possible, completely cleaning the system of it is impossible without totally dismantling everything and rebuilding from the ground up.

The Mexican government faces fewer constraints in crafting regulatory frameworks for tacking criminal groups. The main obstacles the government faces here are political in nature. The current government did pursue judiciary reforms and domestic security legislation to better combat criminal groups. Both measures have been severely criticized by various political and special interest groups, citing confusion in the judiciary reforms and vagaries and loopholes for abuse of power in the domestic security legislation. Though regulatory changes fall squarely within the power of the government, the public reaction and associated political costs prevent drastic changes and full enforcement.

A final possible strategy would be to focus more on quelling violence rather than eliminating or reducing criminal activity in the country. The violence Mexico currently experiences is a symptom of the competition between criminal groups. In theory, removing this competition – in a sense creating a monopoly – would eliminate the violence that competition produces. This would involve the government aligning or tacitly supporting a dominant drug trafficking group or cluster of groups, ultimately diminishing competition. This is not a novel strategy but it certainly is a highly controversial one. It compromises the government’s power over criminal groups, and there are no guarantees that the monopoly would hold. Not to mention it’s morally questionable and wouldn’t be feasible until at least 2019. Mexico holds presidential elections on July 1, and the sitting president cannot run for re-election. A new government will be inaugurated on Dec. 1. Criminal groups will have no incentive to negotiate with the outgoing government.


Conclusion

The rise in violence in Mexico is geopolitically significant because of its potential to affect the trajectory of Mexico’s economic development and basic framework of its relationship with the United States. Given the political and resource constraints facing the Mexican government, this level of violence will likely continue to rise in 2018. During this time, anecdotal evidence will provide a strong measure of the economic impact – as will statistics, though they inherently capture the past over the present. The United States will be closely watching for any increase in spillover violence. Though the current levels do not threaten the U.S.-Mexico relationship, a sharp rise – combined with the political climate in the U.S. and tense relations over NAFTA negotiations – would help set the stage for a strong U.S. reaction that would redefine the relationship.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #494 on: February 04, 2018, 12:41:24 PM »

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