Posts Tagged calderon

Mexico’s Presidential Election and the Cartel War


By Scott Stewart

Mexico will hold its presidential election July 1 against the backdrop of a protracted war against criminal cartels in the country. Former President Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) launched that struggle; his successor, Felipe Calderon, also of the PAN, greatly expanded it. While many Mexicans apparently support action against the cartels, the Calderon government has come under much criticism for its pursuit of the cartels, contributing to Calderon’s low popularity at the moment. The PAN is widely expected to lose in July to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controlled the Mexican presidency for most of the 20th century until Fox’s victory in 2000. According to polls, the PAN has lost credibility among many Mexican voters, many of whom also once again view the PRI as a viable alternative.

In our effort to track Mexico’s criminal cartels and to help our readers understand the dynamics that shape the violence in Mexico, Stratfor talks to a variety of people, including Mexican and U.S. government officials, journalists, business owners, taxi drivers and street vendors. At present, many of these contacts are saying that the Calderon administration could attempt to pull off some sort of last-minute political coup (in U.S. political parlance, an “October surprise”) to boost the PAN’s popularity so it can retain the presidency. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexican citizen: the “War on Drugs” is not our war.

“In order for dangerous drugs not not reach your children, President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa (FCH) launched a war against drug traffickers three years ago. Since then, we Mexicans have become convinced that the war we need is another one: a war against crime for those who rob us, who kidnap us, who extort us and who kills us.

The President must have heard something or read our consensus, because he has changed his rhetoric since September of this year, he no longer refers to the “war on drugs” but a “war against crime” and he has called for “this is a struggle to be taken by the entire society.”

At the same time, semantics aside, the response of his war continues to be identical to the ones in the past; it is a response against the drug kingpins but not a response against the crime that deprives us of our heritage, our freedom and of our very own life.

That is why the president’s war continues to be his war [and not ours].

He must change the target of the war: to focus on the safety of citizens as a new target … he must begin to radically clean the police forces, which perhaps can only be achieved for now by replenishing the police with soldiers, until a new generation of officers can be trained and become operational.”

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Mexican President Calderon’s proposed plan to battle cash smuggling and money laundering.

“MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon proposed sweeping new measures Thursday to crack down on the cash smuggling and money laundering that allow Mexican cartels to use billions in U.S. drug profits to enrich their criminal organizations.

Legislation introduced by the Calderon administration would make it illegal to buy real estate in cash.

The new laws would also limit the purchase of vehicles, boats, airplanes and luxury goods to 100,000 pesos in cash, or about $7,700. Violators could be sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.”

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A list of the the worst attacks since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006

“Below are some of the worst attacks since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and declared war on powerful drug cartels. Some 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since then.

* Aug 18, 2010 – The body of the mayor of Santiago, a colonial tourist town near Monterrey, was dumped on a rural road, two days after he was taken from his home. Calderon condemned the killing of Edelmiro Cavazos, the latest attack on public officials in an escalating drug war.

* July 18, 2010 – Gunmen burst into a birthday party in the northern city of Torreon, using automatic weapons to kill 17 party-goers and wound 18 others. Mexican authorities later said those responsible were incarcerated cartel hitmen who were let out of jail by corrupt officials. The killers allegedly borrowed weapons and vehicles from prison guards and later returned to their cells.

* July 15, 2010 – A 22-pound (10-kilo) car bomb killed four people in Ciudad Juarez in a blast that was detonated by cell phone, the first such attack since Calderon took office.

* June 28, 2010 – Suspected cartel hitmen shot and killed a popular gubernatorial candidate in the northern state of Tamaulipas in the worst cartel attack on a politician to date. Rodolfo Torre, 46, and four aides from the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, were ambushed on their way to a campaign event for the July 4 state election.

* June 11, 2010 – Two dozen heavily armed gunmen burst into a drug rehabilitation clinic in the northern city of Chihuahua and killed 19 addicts, ranging in age from 18 to 25.

* March 28, 2010 – Gunmen in northwestern Durango state killed 10 people, as young as 8 years old, after the pick-up truck they were traveling in sped through a roadblock on an isolated highway in the drug-producing “Golden Triangle” region.

* March 13, 2010 – Hitmen killed three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez in March, provoking “outrage” from U.S. President Barack Obama.

* January 31, 2010 – Suspected cartel hitmen killed 13 high school students and two adults at a party in Ciudad Juarez.

* September 15, 2008 – Suspected members of the Zetas drug gang tossed grenades into a crowd celebrating Mexico’s independence day in the western city of Morelia, killing eight people and wounding more than 100.

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What happens if Mexico settles with the cartels?

The U.S. Department of Defense defines irregular warfare as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations.” By this definition, Mexico is fighting an irregular war. The Mexican government’s campaign against the drug cartels is far more than a law enforcement problem; the two sides are engaged in a violent struggle for influence over the Mexican population.

Four years after Mexican President Felipe Calderón threw 80,000 soldiers at the cartels, their businesses remain as strong as ever. According to the Los Angeles Times, the overall drug trade continues to flourish, bringing in by one estimate $39 billion a year to the Mexican economy, equal to 4.5 percent of Mexico’s economic output in 2009.

The cartels, formerly just smuggling businesses operating largely out of sight, have evolved into political insurgents, and Calderón has openly wondered whether the Mexican state will survive.

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