Aug 19, 2011

Week's Top Articles: August 13 - 18, 2011

Aug. 13, Mexico’s Drug War Draws in Women

Women, teenagers -- the politically created, illegal drug trade draws more and more vulnerable, needy people into the business of the cartels and, then, into prison or death. Aug. 13, Damian Cave: "The number of women incarcerated for federal crimes (in Mexico) has grown by 400 percent since 2007, pushing the total female prison population past 10,000. No one here seems to know what to make of the spike. Clearly, the rise can partly be attributed to the long reach of drug cartels, which have expanded into organized crime, and drawn in nearly everyone they can, including women. Detained lieutenants for cartels have told the police that some act as lookouts. Other women work as drug mules, killers, or as “la gancha” (the hook), using their beauty to attract male kidnapping victims."
Aug. 13,  Outsourcing the Drug War
This is a look at the kind of rationale that U.S. policy makers are applying to the drug war in Mexico.  It is defined as "asymmetric warfare," and this re-definition accompanies the additional re-definition of drug cartels as "transnational organized crime," aka "TOC's."  The rationale, is stated in this article as follows: "U.S. policymakers find it politically untenable to use conventional military force ... against irregular (aka "asymmetrical") adversaries. Increasingly (they will turn to) more convenient ... civilian substitutes such as CIA paramilitaries, contractors and hired proxies.

Foreign Policy: "Policymakers responsible for the U.S. assistance effort in Mexico seem to be applying some lessons learned during America's decade of war. The intelligence analysis centers the U.S. contractors are now setting up in Mexico are innovations developed by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and elsewhere. ... Increasingly more convenient are civilian substitutes such as CIA paramilitaries, contractors, and hired proxies. Mexico has long had severe cultural and legal prohibitions on a foreign military presence, especially from the United States. As we can see in Mexico ... the U.S. government now has a well-established workaround."

Aug. 14, Violent Mexican drug gang taking control of migrant smuggling

U.S laws prohibiting legal drugs create the cartels and give them their primary source of income. Then U.S. laws restricting legal migration give the cartels their second most profitable line of business, migrant transportation. "One of Mexico's most powerful criminal gangs has muscled into the migrant-smuggling racket, changing what had been a relatively benign if risky industry of independent operators into a centralized business that often has deadly consequences for those who try to operate outside it.

Los Zetas, who earned a reputation for brutality by gunning down thousands of Mexicans in the battle for drug-smuggling routes to the United States, now control much of the illicit trade of moving migrant workers toward the U.S. border, experts in the trade say."

Aug. 14, The Widening Dragnet

Right-on, New York Times. The editors sock it to Obama on his hypocrisy over immigration, as manifested in the nation-wide imposition of "Secure Communities" - against the will of some states and communities whose local police say the program actually makes communities less secure. "The Obama administration has decided to stick with Secure Communities, the discredited but rapidly growing immigration-enforcement program that has helped it deport a million people in the last two and a half years. And not only stick with it, but force it down the throats of state and local leaders and law-enforcement officials, including the governors of New York, Illinois and Massachusetts, who have rejected the program, saying it is badly flawed and does more harm than good.

... (This week) the administration gave its answer. It simply revoked all the Secure Communities contracts it had negotiated with state and local governments and said it was imposing the program unilaterally. The message to states and localities was both unequivocal and disheartening: We don’t want your input — we just want your fingerprints."

Aug. 14, Mexico violence dashes soccer field dreams

This story about violence in Ciudad Juarez isn't about drugs. It´s about the poverty that drives kids into gangs and feeds them to the cartels. Neither soccer fields nor a war on drugs will solve the root problem of poverty. Only good job opportunities and good educational preparation for those jobs have a chance of doing that. 

Houston Chronicle: "The inauguration of the brilliant green soccer field was meant to seed a more hopeful day in this squalid neighborhood on Ciudad Juarez's bloodied western fringe. Long a local ambition, the park was finally realized with Mexican government money meant to help calm the gangland slaughter that's claimed 9,000 lives in Juarez of late. ... Ernesto Acosta,... bought into the promise. Ignoring friends' warnings, he went to play in the inaugural soccer games. But the dream, like Acosta, didn't stand a chance. Coming off the field, Acosta was confronted by the leader of a rival gang, the Tristes, whose fief includes the park. The gangster fired a bullet into the boy's head.

Acosta's younger sister, Jessica, 11, watched her brother murdered. She ran screaming from the park with most everyone else. Nine months later, neither Jessica nor other children from her neighborhood have returned. "There has never been a truce with the Tristes, and there never will be," said a 23-year-old boss of Acosta's neighborhood gang, the Novenos. "They have had too many loved ones killed by us, as we have by them. "There simply are too many dead now," he said."

Aug. 15, Addiction now defined as chronic brain disorder

So if the medical experts define addiction as a brain disorder, how can the government go on treating it with arrests and jail terms? "Addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavior problem involving alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, experts contend in a new definition of addiction, one that is not solely related to problematic substance abuse. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) just released this new definition of addiction after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts.

"At its core, addiction isn't just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem. It's a brain problem whose behaviors manifest in all these other areas," said Dr. Michael Miller, past president of ASAM who oversaw the development of the new definition. "Many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems and sometimes criminal acts. But the disease is about brains, not drugs. It's about underlying neurology, not outward actions.""

Aug 16, DoD to extend five-year global counternarcotics program
Just the Facts: "As revealed on the Christian Science Monitor's 'U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor' last week, the U.S. Department of Defense intends to extend a five-year $15 billion global counternarcotics program that is due to expire in 2012. The 'Special Notice' released on August 2nd by the DoD Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO) advises potential contractors that the U.S. Government is seeking to issue a 'follow-on procurement' to extend the program, and is seeking information regarding the 'capabilities, capacity and qualifications of interested prime contractors.'"
Aug. 17, Merida Initiative Leader Announces Change in Focus

Here is today's press conference statement by Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary, Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, held at the U.S. Consulate General, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, August 17, 2011. As he states, he is the State Department officer "responsible for supporting " the Merida Initiative. He was ambassador to Columbia from 2007 (under George W. Bush) to 2010, when he was appointed to this position.

Note that Ambassador Brownfield also says that the U.S. and Mexico will win this war "for a very simple reason ... we cannot lose." He then states essentially the same moral reason for not "losing" the drug war that was put forth by the initial drug warriors. 

Press Conference: "I am the officer, the official from the United States government responsible for supporting the Government of the United States in this process of Merida, in our collaboration on counternarcotics and police and law enforcement between Mexico and the United States.

... During my meetings today in Juarez, and I confess that I have had meetings with municipal authorities, with officials from the state government of Chihuahua, and later today with officials from the federal government. In each one of these meetings we have spoken of ... a transition process of the Merida Initiative. A transition from the last three years when the partnership was almost entirely at the federal level--of federal institutions with federal institutions--to a new partnership for the coming years at the state and municipal level. 

... I believe that this process of collaboration under the Merida Initiative will eventually succeed because of a very simple reason for Mexico as well as for the United States: We cannot lose, because if we lose we will say to the generations that come after us “you are condemned to live in a disgusting and repulsive world,” and that's a conversation I do not want to have with my children or grandchildren in years to come."
The Associated Press: U.S. law enforcement will train local and state police officers from Mexico as part of the next phase of the two countries' joint fight against transnational drug cartels, a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday.

... William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said it is clear that local forces face the most concentrated violence, especially in northern Mexico, and are in the most need of training. ... Brownfield was in the Texas border town of Laredo on Wednesday, signing an agreement outlining how deputies from the Webb County Sheriff's Office could spend periods of three months, six months or more training their counterparts in Mexico. 

It was the first such agreement the State Department has signed with a local law enforcement agency anywhere on the U.S.-Mexico border. Brownfield said more trainers are needed and the high rate of bilingual deputies with border experience made Webb County an attractive place to start such a program.

Fox News Latino: The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, made up of victims of the violence in Mexico, agreed with members of Congress to create a working committee to lay the foundation for a new national security law. The movement resumed its dialogue on Wednesday with lawmakers after calling off talks on Aug. 3 in the wake of a lower house committee's approval of the proposed National Security Law. "The goal is to create a human and citizens security law," poet Javier Sicilia, the movement's leader, said.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations, academics and lawmakers will join the working committee, whose job will be to review the options in the security area and propose alternative legislation to Congress. ... "We all have a role in these negotiations," Sicilia said after the five-hour meeting with lawmakers. Congress should come up with legislation "based on human and citizen safety, one that is solely compatible with public liberties," Sicilia said.

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