Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to the "Good Old Days" in Mexico

By Edward V. Byrne for The Yucatan Times
October 16, 2011

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The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled Mexico with an iron fist for 70 years, until the presidential election of 2000, when it lost to former president Vicente Fox.  PRI lost again in 2006, to Mexico's current PAN (National Action Party) president Felipe Calderón.  PRI is determined to recapture the presidency next year, and many political observers here agree: it has an excellent chance of doing so.

The centerpiece of PRI's 2012 campaign strategy is (or will be) its opposition to Calderón's five year old war against the drug cartels, which it says has been a dismal failure and a disastrous mistake.  Today a PRI senate leader, Carolos Jiménez Macías, upped the ante by accusing U.S. and Mexican authorities of having entirely fabricated an Iranian plot to kill one or more foreign ambassadors in Washington, D.C.  The plot was broken up by the FBI on September 29, with the arrest of one of the two Iranian ringleaders in New York, but the Justice Department did not disclose details until earlier this week.  One of those details was that the arrested Iranian had traveled several times to Mexico to deal with a drug cartel sicario (hit man), who was supposed to carry out the murder(s).  The hit man was actually a DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) undercover operative.  There is abundant evidence to back the claims, including a $100,000 USD wire transfer by the Iranian to the presumed Mexican assassin.

U.S. officials praised Mexico's cooperation and assistance in busting up the plot, and some Calderón officials took a bow earlier this week when the story broke.  DEA officials said recently that the Calderón anti-cartel offensive launched in 2006 has had a very measurable impact on disrupting the flow of drugs north into the United States.  President Obama called Calderón last week to thank him for Mexico’s cooperation and assistance, both in the Iranian matter and the drug war as well.  Those kinds of things seem to infuriate some politicians here – most of whom wave the tricolor of PRI.

"Let's see if over time it doesn't appear that the Americans (set up) the whole 'plot,'" said PRI political boss Jiménez Macías, who chairs the Mexican Senate's Asian-Pacific Foreign Affairs Committee. He claimed the entire episode was “another” U.S. attempt to intervene in Mexico's internal affairs.

Meanwhile, a group of rabid anti-Calderóns and anti-PANistas filed a criminal complaint against him this week, with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.  For those of you not up on your Eastern European history, that’s the same tribunal which arrested and tried dozens of Slavic military and political leaders for rape and genocide committed during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.  Those modern day Nazis were convicted of war crimes, and now some of Calderón’s opponents want him charged with exactly the same, for daring to take on the drug cartels.  Not all of the legal complainants  – referred to as “professors and intellectuals” in their media releases – are PRIstas, but many are, or are supporters sub silentio.

In a wide ranging interview with the New York Times published this weekend, president Calderón said that there are some in PRI who would prefer to return to the "old days," by "making a deal" with organized crime forces.  That's a very charitable understatement.  During decades of PRI control, nothing was done to curb the growing influence of drug traffickers.   Felipe Calderón is the first president in the history of Mexico to launch a full scale offensive against domestic criminals - the drug cartels – which now plainly represent a veritable international threat, on the same level or worse than many terrorist groups. 

The question is, will Calderón’s bold and courageous offensive go up in smoke when a new president takes office in December 2012?

© Edward V. Byrne 2011. This article may be cited or quoted with proper attribution to the author but otherwise not reproduced in whole or in part without express permission.

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