Tag Archives: mexico

Strafor looks at Mexico: “The Struggle for Balance”

More about what might be the greatest threat to American sovereignty.  At the end are links to other articles about our crisis to the south.

Mexico: The Struggle for Balance

By Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 6 April 2010 — This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

This week’s Geopolitical Intelligence Report provided a high-level assessment of the economic forces that affect how the Mexican people and the Mexican government view the flow of narcotics through that country. Certainly at that macro level, there is a lot of money flowing into Mexico and a lot of people, from bankers and businessmen to political parties and politicians, are benefiting from the massive influx of cash. The lure of this lucre shapes how many Mexicans (particularly many of the Mexican elite) view narcotics trafficking. It is, frankly, a good time to be a banker, a real estate developer or a Rolex dealer in Mexico.

However, at the tactical level, there are a number of issues also shaping the opinions of many Mexicans regarding narcotics trafficking, including violence, corruption and rapidly rising domestic narcotics consumption. At this level, people are being terrorized by running gunbattles, mass beheadings and rampant kidnappings — the types of events that STRATFOR covers in our Mexico Security Memos.

Mexican elites have the money to buy armored cars and hire private security guards. But rampant corruption in the security forces means the common people seemingly have nowhere to turn for help at the local level (not an uncommon occurrence in the developing world). The violence is also having a heavy impact on Mexico’s tourist sector and on the willingness of foreign companies to invest in Mexico’s manufacturing sector. Many smaller business owners are being hit from two sides — they receive extortion demands from criminals while facing a decrease in revenue due to a drop in tourism because of the crime and violence. These citizens and businessmen are demanding help from Mexico City.

These two opposing forces — the inexorable flow of huge quantities of cash and the pervasive violence, corruption and fear — are placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the Calderon administration. And this pressure will only increase as Mexico moves closer to the 2012 presidential elections (President Felipe Calderon was the law-and-order candidate and was elected in 2006 in large part due to his pledge to end cartel violence). Faced by these forces, Calderon needs to find a way to strike a delicate balance, one that will reassert Mexican government authority, quell the violence and mollify the public while also allowing the river of illicit cash to continue flowing into Mexico.

An examination of the historical dynamics of the narcotics trade in Mexico reveals that in order for the violence to stop, there needs to be a balance among the various drug-trafficking organizations involved in the trade. New dynamics have begun to shape the narcotics business in Mexico, and they are causing that balance to be very elusive. For the Calderon administration, desperate times may have called for desperate measures.

The Balance

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Freidman of Stratfor writes about “Mexico and the Failed State Revisited”

Another brilliant analysis from Stratfor, about (as Martin van Creveld foresaw two decades ago) one of the major threats to America.  This is a another perspective to the recent articles about the “end of Mexico.”  At the end are links to other articles about Mexico. 

Mexico and the Failed State Revisited

George Friedman, Stratfor, 6 April 2010 — This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

STRATFOR argued March 13, 2008, that Mexico was nearing the status of a failed state. A failed state is one in which the central government has lost control over significant areas of the country and the state is unable to function. In revisiting this issue, it seems to us that the Mexican government has lost control of the northern tier of Mexico to drug-smuggling organizations, which have significantly greater power in that region than government forces. Moreover, the ability of the central government to assert its will against these organizations has weakened to the point that decisions made by the state against the cartels are not being implemented or are being implemented in a way that would guarantee failure.

Despite these facts, it is not clear to STRATFOR that Mexico is becoming a failed state. Instead, it appears the Mexican state has accommodated itself to the situation. Rather than failing, it has developed strategies designed both to ride out the storm and to maximize the benefits of that storm for Mexico.

First, while the Mexican government has lost control over matters having to do with drugs and with the borderlands of the United States, Mexico City’s control over other regions — and over areas other than drug enforcement — has not collapsed (though its lack of control over drugs could well extend to other areas eventually). Second, while drugs reshape Mexican institutions dramatically, they also, paradoxically, stabilize Mexico. We need to examine these crosscurrents to understand the status of Mexico.

Mexico’s Core Problem

Let’s begin by understanding the core problem. The United States consumes vast amounts of narcotics, which, while illegal there, make their way in abundance. Narcotics derive from low-cost agricultural products that become consumable with minimal processing. With its long, shared border with the United States, Mexico has become a major grower, processor and exporter of narcotics. Because the drugs are illegal and thus outside normal market processes, their price is determined by their illegality rather than by the cost of production. This means extraordinary profits can be made by moving narcotics from the Mexican side of the border to markets on the other side.

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National Drug Threat Assessment 2010

The Dept of Justice has published an update on one of our longest wars, declared by President Nixon at a press conference on 17 June 1971 (more explicitly to Congress here).  Only the War on Poverty (declared by LBJ on 8 January 1964) has run longer.  (I have not found a date for first use of  “War on Cancer”; it was not used by Nixon in 1971).

Excerpt from the Executive Summary of the National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 (red emphasis added):

Overall, the availability of illicit drugs in the United States is increasing.1 In fact, in 2009 the prevalence of four of the five major drugs–heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine)–was widespread and increasing in some areas. Conversely, cocaine shortages first identified in 2007 persisted in many markets.

… Although drug use remained relatively stable from 2007 through 2008, more than 25 million individuals 12 years of age and older reported using an illicit drug or using a controlled prescription drug (CPD) nonmedically in 2008. Each year, drug-related deaths number in the thousands, and treatment admissions and emergency department (ED) visits both exceed a million. These and other consequences of drug abuse, including lost productivity associated with abuse, the impact on the criminal justice system, and the environmental impact that results from the production of illicit drugs, are estimated at nearly $215 billion  annually.

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