Monday, May 17, 2010

On DEA Rhetoric

I have a new column here.


malcolm beith said...

gotta respectfully disagree on a few points here patrick. calderon's anti-drug measures have been way stronger than past presidents. Deploying 50,000 troops is way more than any other president did, and the arrests and extraditions do mean something. re cooperation, there is so much less anti-american sentiment with regards to DEA assistance; even during Fox there were many politicians quibbling with what they saw as interference, not much of that these days.
re Ebrard or Pena Nieto, they're not going to be hammering out the narco-pact, the real players like Betrones would do it if it needed doing; but such a pact doesn't really need to be hammered out anyway – the framework for it already exists, so all that needs to be done is pull back the troops (as is happening now in Juarez) and let Chapo and El Azul take care of the rest. I wouldn't read so much into the fragmentation of the cartels: the higher-ups do still control a lot of what goes on, and when necessary, make alliances to keep control. that's why in Culiacan, Tijuana and Juarez you still see violence ebb and flow, as the alliances hold and then sometimes break as the plaza comes under dispute.
re futility of DEA's objectives, well, I can't argue with you on that one.

pc said...

Hi Malcolm, I appreciate the the pact, I guess what I'm not quite convinced by is the idea that the absence of the troops is what is needed to make a pact workable. I can see the logic that they are destabilizing, that they don't let any narco-hegemon work his hegemony, but I just don't quite buy it. It still seems to me that the industry is fundamentally fractured in a way that it wasn't a decade ago. I also think the growth of the local market adds an element that wasn't there when Felix Gallardo divvied up the territory in the 80s. I imagine that you'd be able to enlighten me based on your reporting, but it seems like a lot of the gangs doing a lot of the killing operate with some degree of autonomy from the main bosses. They may kick up to him, but they don't necessarily answer to him, at least not the way they did 15 years ago.

RE Calderon, he's certainly different, don't get me wrong, but I think people (including Placido) sometimes imply that he is Churchill and every other Mexican leader is Chamberlain. (I wish I'd thought of that line for the piece!) I just don't think that's right. The army has been involved in anti-drug operations for a generation. They were the ones who caught Cardenas, Fox sent the army to Tamaulipas, and more than a 100 troops were killed in drug operations as far back as Salinas, I believe (I dont have the book in front of me, but in Roderic Ai Camp's politics book he has a chart about military deaths under each president). Not that I don't think things are different today, everything military related is going up, but I just think it is one of degree (and in a direction Mexico had already been heading rather than a change of course) rather than a brand new world.

malcolm beith said...

good points, and that churchill/chamberlain line is excellent, definitely try to use that at some point if you can.
i see your point about the army, you're right. some of the misreporting of this started in December 2006, when Calderon sent 5,000 or whatever troops to Michoacan. everyone pounced on this as a sort of "surge"-type moment, (or as Calderon's attempt to justify his election) when in fact, Fox had sent more troops to Tamaulipas, and I think even Zedillo had deployed more at times to Tijuana (not sure).