Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ignoring the Narco-Political Nexus

César Gaviria recently criticized Mexico for its lack of attention to political support for organized crime:
I am absolutely certain that drug traffickers are connected all over the political scene, the same way they did with security officials.


In Colombia they stick governors or congressmen in jail, anyone who has in any way collaborated or accepted money or accepted electoral support, this society has to be conscious that the problem has expanded to every sector in society and not just the police, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them mixed up in the politics in the state of Guerrero, they must be mixed up in politics around the country.
This isn't a particularly new criticism, but it doesn't suffer from widespread repetition. Stories like this one, about the detention of various mayors in Veracruz for playing loose with public money, are relatively common, but a bunch of mayors being arrested for protecting criminals hasn't happened much. Mass arrests of non-elected public officials have also been very rare, outside of Operación Limpieza, which was in fact initiated by an American official. From this standpoint, Calderón's aggressiveness on security has lacked balance: he's had lots troops in the streets shooting at the grunts-level narcos (and increasingly the capos), but very little attention, at least for the past two years, to the networks of protection within government. One wonders whether this has to do with the failure of the michoacanazo and consequent apprehension about opening the government up to another embarrassment, or if it's just a matter of a lack of investigative capacity, or if it's just a matter of convenience and avoiding stepping on toes.


Noel Maurer said...

The lack of investigative ability and the inconvenience of investigation are linked.

At the end of the day, you can only reduce organize crime to bit player on the fringes of society in two ways. One, underwear gnomes. (OK, social change, or Joseph Stalin, or whatever. But they all fall in the "pray for a miracle" zone.)

Two, investigative police work. Which Mexico can't do.


pc said...

I can relate to the "gah". No easy solution, and I agree the investigative shortcomings and the inconvenience are linked. One reason that I think more understanding of why the michoacanazo failed is important is it would give us a little more insight as to how these two things are interrelated, and where adjustments need to be made.

As far as the two solutions, they both have a role to play, I think, although social change that decreases the role of organized crime is certainly harder to bring about proactively through changes in policy. In any event, they are both a ways off. So I return: "gah".