Felipe Calderón has made the war against drug trafficking the focal point of his government






[Excelsior, Mexico]



La Jornada, Mexico

Calderon's Bush-Style Militarization of Mexican Politics


"In the same way that September 11, 2001 permitted George W. Bush to make war, the battle against the drug cartels has allowed the Mexican chief executive to seek to entrench and perpetuate his government."


By Luis Hernández Navarro


Translated By Liz Essary


March 24, 2009


Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)

Felipe Calderón has made the war on narco-trafficking the centerpiece of his administration. Combating organized crime has provided Calderón a mantle of legitimacy denied him at the ballot box. The militarization of politics has given him the tools to administer the country with exceptional measures. The politicization of public security has made it easier to restore the chain of command and obedience.


In the same way that September 11, 2001 permitted George W. Bush to endeavor to make war, the battle against the drug cartels has allowed the Mexican chief executive to seek to entrench and perpetuate his government. But instead of sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, Mexico's president has pulled them out of their barracks take up positions within national territory.


The Army is in the streets of many of the country’s towns, carrying out functions that they have no place performing. He has set up road blocks and conducted de-facto curfews and raids. Military commanders occupy police stations. In what appears to be a dress rehearsal for the plan of action for several northern states, in places like Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, they are experiencing a situation akin to a state of emergency that has not been declared by Congress.


Day after day, Felipe Calderón appears before the media as commander-in-chief of a national crusade. The nationwide propaganda portrays him as the defender of Mexican families. His travels around the country are planned with great secrecy. His official events are engulfed by elements of the Presidential Guard. All Complaints and protests against him are silenced by the police.


In the short term, the politicization of public security has provided positive outcomes to the chief executive. Polls show reasonable approval ratings, although they have fallen consistently over recent months. The violent expressions of social discontent experienced in 2006 have escalated. [Author refers to protests and unrest after the contested presidential election of 2006].




Among the first casualties of the war we are living through have been human rights: the legal framework has been transformed in spite of them. In the macabre tally of beheadings, unburied corpses and pozoleros that are recorded every day, the assassination of civic leaders barely even registers. The criminalization of social protest is progressing every day.


[Editor's Note: Pozoleros is the nickname of an assassin known for dissolving people in acid - and is also a type of spicy Mexican soup].



It doesn't seem to concern the president that the militarization of politics has eroded and degraded him. It seems that he could care less about the economic crisis, stagnant national production, growing unemployment and a jammed immigration escape valve to the United States - or that his room to maneuver has been reduced. He sees intensifying the war as his only way out.


The latest episode of the politicization of public security has been the repeated charge made by various leaders and lawmakers from the [ruling] National Action Party (PAN) that seven governors from the [opposition] Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) are involved with organized crime. Whether the allegations are true or not, far from being a way to actually combat organized crime, this only shows the blue and white's [see graphic, right] desire to use the fight against drugs to beat up on their electoral rivals.


For Felipe Calderón, the immediate future is bitter. All surveys predict a tricolor triumph in the next federal elections. The loss of the PAN majority in the Chamber of Deputies [the lower house] will mean an early death sentence for Calderon’s six-year term, which is already growing short.


The only chance in the short term for the National Action Party to overcome the electoral mountain seems to be to have the federal government unleash a furious media campaign that delegitimizes key PRI politicians by associating them with drug trafficking. The PAN has extensive experience with negative election campaigning, and Antonio Solá, the president’s chief adviser on these matters, still has great influence over the man of Los Pinos [Los Pinos is where the official presidential residence and offices are located].



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For Calderón, continuing a course of this type will necessarily involve putting his remaining supporters and already precarious administration at serious risk. But by not doing so, he would presumably lose the majority in San Lázaro, leaving him in a very difficult situation for the 2010 elections, when almost a third of governors will be replaced - making him a prisoner of the tricolor network.


In 2006, the PAN and the powers that be weren’t afraid to polarize the country and bring it to the brink of violent confrontation. [Again - a reference to the contested 2006 presidential election]. Although the PRI will not have López Obrador [the loser of the 2006 election], the situation in 2009 will be much the same. And that will be even more the case if the path chosen by the president is one of increasing the military presence on the streets, keeping them far from the barracks and having them do the work of civilians.










































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March 26, 9:18pm]