Stratfor reports on Mexico, news ignored by our mainstream media

Summary:  Stratfor reports that “The bloody turf battles that have been waged for the better part of this year in the northern state of Chihuahua – and in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in particular – continued this past week. The usual cadence of violence in the state was punctuated by two particularly brutal incidents.”

Stratfor has been the “go to” site for reports about the troubles of our southern neighbor.  Here are excerpts from their “Mexico Security Memo” of 18 August 2008, describing the continued slow disintegration of the political regime in Mexico.  While largely ignored by the mainstream media in the US, this (and the massive northward flow of people that results from it) is — as Martin van Creveld noted a decade ago — perhaps the greatest geopolitical threat to America.  See the following excerpts from the Stratfor report for more details.

Update

Another valuable article on this subject:  “State of Siege: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency“, John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, Small Wars Journal, 19 August 2008 — Excerpt:

Mexico is under siege, and the barbarians are dangerously close to breaching the castle walls. Responding to President Felipe Calderon’s latest drug crackdown, an army of drug cartels has launched a vicious criminal insurgency against the Mexican state. So far, the conflict has killed over 1,400 Mexicans, 500 of them law enforcement officers. No longer fearing retaliation, cartel gunmen assault soldier and high-ranking federale alike. The criminal threat is not only a threat to public order but to the state.

… As the intensity of the violence grows, so does the possibility that Tijuana and Juarez’s high-intensity street warfare will migrate north. Recent cartel warfare in Arizona indicates that America has become a battleground for drug cartels clashing over territory, putting American citizens and law enforcement at risk. But the northward migration of cartel warfare is not the worst consequence of Mexico’s criminal insurgency. A lawless Mexico will be a perfect staging ground for terrorists seeking to operate in North America.

Excerpts from the Stratfor report

The bloody turf battles that have been waged for the better part of this year in the northern state of Chihuahua – and in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in particular – continued this past week. The usual cadence of violence in the state was punctuated by two particularly brutal incidents. …

Sinaloa Cartel Activities in Central America

The increasing presence of Mexican drug traffickers in Central America is a shift that we have observed over the past year, as maritime and airborne routes to Mexico have become more difficult to use without detection. Several details of these most recent investigations offer keen tactical insight into how drugs are moved from South America to Mexico.

… Besides these tactical details, this incident offers an opportunity to consider the overall state of the drug trade. It is a testament to the current power of Mexican cartels in general that it is the Mexican groups – and not Colombian groups or others – that have extended their reach into Central America. This reach will not only prove useful for drug trafficking purposes, but also probably will be exploited for delivering drugs to the emerging consumer markets in much of Latin America. …

Federal Police on Strike

Several hundred federal police agents in four states carried out a brief work stoppage Aug. 15, demanding additional days off, better pay and more powerful weapons. The strikes – which were carried out by agents assigned to Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, and Tabasco states – left some airport posts in Guanajuato and highway checkpoints elsewhere temporarily abandoned.

… Work stoppages, protests and walkouts have become common among state and local Mexican police forces over the past year, as an increase in cartel attacks on police has made the job too dangerous for officers to settle for the salary and working hours they signed on for. Strikes by federal police agents, however, are much less frequent – and their spread could potentially have a devastating impact on the government’s strategy in the cartel war.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other articles about Mexico

  1. Is Mexico unraveling?, 28 April 2008 — summary of Stratfor’s warnings about Mexico.
  2. High Stakes South of the Border, 13 May 2008
  3. Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?“, George Friedman, Stratfor, 13 May 2008
  4. Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor, 14 May 2008
  5. Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence“, posted at Grits for Breakfast, 18 May 2008
  6. Stratfor: the Mexican cartels stike at Phoenix, AZ, 6 July 2008
  7. “Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy”, 24 July 2008
  8. Nonsense from StrategyPage: Iraq is safer than Mexico, 17 December 2008

10 thoughts on “Stratfor reports on Mexico, news ignored by our mainstream media

  1. If I were in a position to fund a major ad campaign, I would be broadcasting the following:

    Script:
    These are drugs. [ Shots of poppy fields, cocoa plantations, and marijuana fields.

    This is the “War on Drugs.” [ Shots of assassinated Mexican civilians and other mayhem.]

    Any questions?

    End of Script.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That would be wonderful. As Plato’s Cave notes, however, that we lack the funds to broadcast such a message is an big advantage of our ruling elites.

    Fortunately we have the Internet to communicate, to pass on these messages. Used properly this is a game-winning tool. But it requires people to wield it. That is why I have written so much about the Internet — why blogs are important, and why we need to take care in its use.

  2. I have a recent article on Mexico and the drug war in the Small Wars Journal that you might find interesting: “State of Siege: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency“, John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, Small Wars Journal, 19 August 2008

    (apologies for self-promotion)
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    Fabius Maximus replies: No apologies needed on this site for posting links to relevant material. Rather, I thank you for making us aware of this article.

  3. Duncan, that’s pretty hilarious. But people have really forgotten how to make a political ad (think back to Lyndon Johnson “Daisy” vs. Goldwater) haha.

  4. As Plato’s Cave notes, however, that we lack the funds to broadcast such a message is an big advantage of our ruling elites.

    SaysMe.tv is a new startup that resells TV commercial time to individuals for as little as $6 per airing. So maybe this is becoming less true than it used to be.

  5. Or we could just take the radical step of decriminalizing these drugs, choking off the cashflow for the Mexican cartels – and the globe-spanning network of criminals that are fed off this trade…

    But, like everything else, I guess we are locked into a legacy system with too many special interests dependent upon it to take such logical actions. What would all those bureaucrats in DEA and the shareholders in private prison companies do then?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I agree with your recommendation, but question your diagnostic. The stakeholders in the current system seem minor vs. the scale of both the problem and in a national context. Why we continue with obviously expensive and failed policy is a mystery to me.

  6. The only rational protection against Narco-terrorism is limited legalization. Perhaps letting Baha secede from Mexico and join the US? (only half a joke) Mexico’s in deep deep do do and the US isn’t helping much. But should.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I strongly agree about legalization (not about any area of Mexico joining the US). I do not understand how we can have learned nothing fromt the failure of Prohibition (booze).

  7. I do not understand how we can have learned nothing fromt the failure of Prohibition (booze).

    Has the modern American political class learned from any of our historic mistakes?

    We learned nothing from Vietnam, as evidenced by our bumbling into Iraq. We learned nothing from the 1920s, as evidenced by the 1990s rollback of financial-sector regulation (which led directly to the current credit meltdown). We learned nothing from the 19th century experience of seeing dirt-poor immigrant families rise in two or three generations to respected contributors to society, as evidenced by the current anti-immigrant hysteria.

    We have no historical memory, and are paying the price for that in shortsighted, doomed-to-failure policies.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Agreed. Excerpt from “Diagnosing the eagle, chapter I“:

    Something is wrong with America, rendering our society incapable of connecting effectively to reality. The late USAF Colonel John Boyd described this as a process: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. For a description of the OODA loop see this; for a discussion of Orientation see Chet Richard’s new blog post. Who can tell what has caused this social illness, a form of cultural Alzheimer’s? The symptoms appear in many aspects of our national public policy — collective action in critical areas such as energy, geopolitics, and management of our economy.

    We find it difficult to recognize large problems until they are upon us, and to discern causes and effects. Worse, often we cannot weigh the various short- and long-term factors to rationally decide how to respond, so we choose seemingly easy and fast solutions without bothering to perform the necessary research and analysis. And, perhaps as a result of this flawed process, we frequently find ourselves unable to competently implement whatever course of action we choose.

    Rather than provide a theoretical analysis, I’ll show a few case studies. In Chapter I we will look at the housing cycle. Just a normal business cycle, although driven to amazing heights by a combination of factors — all noted at the time, with these warnings ignored by both our ruling elites and the citizenry:

    ——

    But that just restates the problem. Why has it broken? How can it be fixed?

  8. Very nice place you have here! It’s nice to find comments that are thoughtful and without the bitter rancor of partisan politics that infects too much of the web. I tire of that kind of thing from any part of the political spectrum.

    Canada has the same problems with the seeming lack of ideas and that overall sense of drift that seems to be troubling a great many thoughtful Americans. Perhaps the Western world in general has come to a point of re-evaluation of how our world is ordered and who benefits and who suffers for our comforts.

    It’s disturbing that a major story like this one on the narco wars in Mexico has been getting such little play. Perhaps the Olympics have pushed a lot of news off the agenda of the MSM but even the blogosphere seems to have missed it. We continue to create giant empires for the traffickers in every region of the world that has the ability to grow/chemically create the substances and has the lax gov’t standards and availability of arms (the Victor Bout’s of the world will always be prompt with their deliveries)that helps them to keep thier turf. After reading the rather good book on Bout’s exploits, you see how intertwined everything is in the world of crime. He delivered, not only arms, but just about everything imaginable for just about everybody imaginable. All the familiar despots of Africa, the American goverment, the Belgians, the French, the …blah blah…you start to see him as a taxi driver who just delivered the goods until you realize the enormous human cost he left behind in his wake.

    Now the Mexicans are facing the beast and its really touch and go whether they will emerge from it as a nation. There’s no more corrupt country in existence of course but I would still rather see some kind of actual civilians in charge rather than someone who spends his spare time watching Pacino in “Scarface” on endless replay.

    It’s like Mexico gets a free pass in the American press along with Israel, Saudi ARabia, Pakistan, India and others I could name. I suppose there are many reasons for that, some of them probably even make sense. But the news stories that don’t get told (or get the page 12 position in the paper) are the ones that often come back to bite you. Like that obscure one about a break in at some hotel in Washington, DC..

  9. I’ve avoided readin’ or even watchin’ any MSM a long time ago. Especially since I’m livin’ in locales where their orientation seems to be the direct effect of seeing shadows on a cave wall ( read : Asian states). All that hype from the various governments. Pure BS. Guess they’ll tell the world anything just to LOOK GOOD. Or maybe even just to TELL ‘EMSELVES how GREAT everythin’ is. What c!@#!

    Thanks to FM for providin’ such an informative & great site. So much to glean from everyone here.

  10. The evidence from Mexico, if the reporting is accurate, of the overwhelming superiority of the Cartels in weaponry, and yes, in manpower too, dictates the wisdom of keeping close control of our borders. There is no doubt that Mexican and Central American immigrants can and do make good citizens, but legal and approved entry is of the utmost importance. We don’t want to open our borders to the drug wars, and surely that will happen if we do not gain full control of them.

    Anyone who has visited Mexico often is well aware of the “mordida” culture, and that has allowed the drug trade to gain control over the political structure. The last thing we want to do is to allow that same culture to penetrate our society.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: For those not familiar with the term, here is an explanation of the “mordida” culture. From “THE MORDIDA: MEXICO AND CORRUPTION“, Christina Johns, posted on his blog, undated:

    “The extent and pervasiveness of official corruption in Mexico is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t lived there. Corruption is everywhere and widely accepted as a fact of life. Early on in my travels in Mexico I learned what the word “mordida” meant. Literally, it means “bite” but figuratively and the way it is most frequently used, it means a bribe. For a lot of things you do in Mexico, especially if they involve a public official, you have to pay the “mordida”, the bite.”

    This is one facet of the patron-client social structure common in Latin America. For its significance to us, see this excerpt from “The End of the American Dream?“, Baron Bodissey, posted at Gates of Vienna, 30 April 2007:

    “Lastly, there is a desire by the political elites to get more “reliable” political clients by importing political corruption from Mexico and sideline the democratic process with behind-the-scenes decisions and bureaucratic feudalism, similar to EU. This serves to bypass the restraints so unfairly imposed on them by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the other US Founding Fathers.

    “… It is conceivable that these higher levels of political corruption will be imported to the US through Latin American immigration. And maybe some members of the political elites desire this?”

    The following article is provides support for these fears: “Immigration and Usurpation: Elites, Power, and the People’s Will“, Fredo Arias King, Center for Immigration Studies, July 2006 — Excerpt:

    “A sociological study conducted throughout the region found that Latin Americans are indeed highly susceptible to clientelismo, or partaking in patron-client relations, and that Mexico was high even by regional standards.”

    There are signs that this is happening on a substantial scale, as a patron-client political structure takes root in Arizonia and New Mexico.

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