Mar 29, 2012

General Lozano Espinosa: Fox bequeathed a country taken over by organized crime

The blame game is on. As Mexico readies for campaign season in the run-up to the July 1 presidential elections, we expect to see a lot of this—public displays of government achievements and throwing blame for the many disasters of the past six years, but especially for the drug war. Here, an Army general speaks ‘as an individual, based on personal experience’ to point the finger at former president Vicente Fox and justify the role of the armed forces in the drug war.

La Jornada (translation Americas Program) Felipe Calderón Hinojosa inherited a country taken over by organized crime from Vicente Fox Quesada, in which a large number of the almost 2 million 500 towns “were imprisoned by crime and many mayors could not carry out their respobsibiliites...Therefore the Mexican Army had to step in to confront this phenomenon,” said General Genaro Fausto Lozano Espinosa, commander of the 5th Military Regiment, based in Guadalajara that includes the states of Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Colimba, Nayarit, and Zacatecas-,this Wednesday at the Law School of the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (AUZ).

In fact, the commander said, the Army must stay in the fight against organized crime because the situation is likely to endanger the very existence of the Mexican state, given its complexity and scope...

The military command acknowledged that at present, Mexico’s Pacific mountains are full of drugs and there are hundreds of thousands of people who dedicate themselves to its production. It’s a cultural issue, a way of life, he said, but currently, the country’s main problem “is the drug dealing, the growing consumption of drugs which is creeping into our homes without our knowledge.”

Lozano Espinosa defended President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s decision to send the army into the streets to fight organized crime, saying since the beginning of his administration there has been a serious problem of law and order in the country and the Army and Air Force cannot remain idle or negligent in their responsibilities. At the start of this administration, the state of governance, freedom, rule of law, and democracy was truly dramatic.

“Why do I say this? Because five years ago the country was literally taken over by organized crime. At the local level, many were co-opted by crime or threatened by the authorities.”

The major general, with four decades experience in the armed forces, said that many mayors were extorted, even with the budgetary resources that the national government provides for them to exercise their mandates... In this situation, an individual who was elected to lead a municipality could not possibly carry out duties and without that function there is no governance. And if people vote for someone who can’t carry out his or her duties, where’s the democracy in that? It’s not right! Because we have a de facto power that is ursurping the popular will, national sovereignty...

“Clearly the rule of law and freedom are affected. There were lots of rural roads and highways where criminals set up roadblocks and if you didn’t pay a quota, you couldn’t pass.”

With these examples, he said, we understand that security in the country is impaired, and the president has to exercise his constitutional powers to reverse a situation that poses a serious risk to national institutions and could escalate to endanger the very existence of the Mexican state. That is the reason why he ordered the armed forces to intervene against organized crime.

Corruption and incompetence in the police, especially local authorities, and the justice system is another reason to keep soldiers in the streets, said Lozano Espinosa. Read Spanish Original

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