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Thursday, April 7, 2011

America’s Third War

“But last year there were 540,000 people, roughly, detained coming across the border illegally. Forty-five thousand of them came from countries other than Mexico, demonstrating the fact that Mexico itself now is a pathway into the United States for people all around the world, and we don't know what their intentions are.” — Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

While we are supporting a no-fly zone and bombing in Libya, fighting barbaric Islamists in Afghanistan and talking about humanitarian wars in the Ivory Coast, Yemen and other nations in the Middle East there is a real war going on along our southern border.

To date over 34,000 people have been killed in Mexico in the past four years, since Mexico initiated its war on the drug cartels. This is at least thirty or forty times the deaths in Libya.

The latest incident is the discovery of 59 bodies in a mass grave in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, about 80 miles south of the border with Texas. AP reports; “Mexican security forces searching for abducted bus passengers in a violent northern state bordering Texas have stumbled on a collection of pits holding a total of 59 bodies.”

“The grisly find was made near the ranch where drug cartel gunmen less than a year ago massacred 72 migrants who were trying to reach the United States.”

“Investigators struggled to exhume the bodies in the mass grave to determine whether they belonged to kidnapped bus passengers, migrants who frequently ride buses in the area, or drug traffickers executed by rivals.”

“Tamaulipas state investigators and federal authorities went to the siteTamaulipas Mexico about 80 miles south of the border at Brownsville, Texas, to investigate reports that gunmen had begun stopping buses and pulling off some passengers in the area starting March 25.”

“Two other such cases were reported in subsequent days, in what may have been an attempt at forced recruitment by a drug gang, Tamaulipas state interior secretary Morelos Canseco said. The gunmen reportedly abducted almost exclusively men and allowed the remaining passengers to continue on their way.”

“State and federal investigators and soldiers conducted the raid, but differed on what exactly happened.”

“The federal Interior Department said the first pit was discovered Saturday and soldiers detained five suspected kidnappers. Tamaulipas officials said the pits were found Wednesday, and a total of 11 suspected kidnappers were captured and five kidnap victims were freed. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear.”

“But the security forces agreed that a series of eight burial pits had been found, one of which contained 43 bodies and the others 16 corpses. The bodies were being examined to determine their identities and cause of death.”

State police guard the site where at least five bodies were found in a clandestine grave in Santa Mara Tlalmanalco on the outskirts of Mexico City“Canseco said two of the dead were women. Many of the victims found in the pits appeared to have died between 10 and 15 days ago, dates that would roughly match the bus abductions, he said.

A statement from the Tamaulipas government, which "energetically condemned" the killings, did not say what drug gang, if any, the suspects belonged to.”

“President Felipe Calderon's office issued a statement saying the find "underlines the cowardliness and total lack of scruples of the criminal organizations that cause violence in our country."

“While there was no immediate confirmation that a drug cartel was involved, officials refer to the cartels as "criminal organizations."

But the security forces agreed that a series of eight burial pits had been found, one of which contained 43 bodies and the others 16 corpses. The bodies were being examined to determine their identities and cause of death.

Canseco said two of the dead were women. Many of the victims found in the pits appeared to have died between 10 and 15 days ago, dates that would roughly match the bus abductions, he said.

A statement from the Tamaulipas government, which "energetically condemned" the killings, did not say what drug gang, if any, the suspects belonged to.

George W. Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary who has written about the Tamaulipas drug groups says the state government in the past managed to contain crime by informally supporting the Gulf Cartel, a powerful group that once held a monopoly on regional drug trafficking. But more drug gangs arrived in recent years and now the state is "completely paralyzed" in how to manage them, he says. "It's reflective of similar situations across the country."

Grayson writes; “As never before, Mexican opinion-leaders lament that their country — characterized by strong men and weak institutions in the modern era — risks becoming a “failed state.” For scholar Frances Fukuyama, this status involves two dimensions of state powers — namely, its (1) “scope” or the different functions and goals taken on by governments” and (2) “strength” or the ability of governments to plan and execute policies. 3 Among other things, strong states provide security, law enforcement, access to high-quality schools and health-care, sound fiscal and monetary policies, responsive political systems, opportunities for employment and social mobility, retirement benefits, and transparency. “Weak” states fall short in these areas; “failed” states receive “Fs.”

“Fire-breathing Cassandras are not the only ones bemoaning the growing debility of the Mexican state, but thoughtful, influential analysts as well. The pessimism extends even to those who voiced high hopes for President Calderón, an experienced politician, a social-democrat, and a moderate within the center-right National Action Party (PAN) who took office on December 1, 2006.”

“Luis Rubio, the internationally acclaimed director general of the Center of Research for Development, argued that “our weaknesses as a society are formidable not only in the police and judicial domains, but also in the growing erosion of the social fabric and the absence of a sense of good and bad.”

“In the same vein, Luis F. Aguilar, an astute and veteran observer, stated with respect to ubiquitous violence: “The public insecurity exhibits the impotence of its branches of government, the futility of its laws and the incompetence of its leaders The tragedy is that the decomposition of the State comes from within, largely from its police whose responsibility is to apply the law fairly without exceptions but the situation of political paralysis and institutional weakness has made us recognize what we really are: a society in search of a State.”

Last year an American riding a jet ski on Falcon Reservoir, on the U.S. border, was shot dead by suspected cartel gunmen, his body never recovered. Days later, the severed head of the lead Mexican investigator on the case was found in front of a Mexican army facility.

Earlier that year, Rodolfo Torre, leading candidate for governor was shot dead in broad daylight only days before his election. His brother, who won the election in Mr. Torre's place, vowed to fight crime by tapping a group of former army generals to clean up local police departments.

But that strategy is struggling too. In January, Gen. Manuel Farfán, chief of police in the border town Nuevo Laredo, was shot dead barely a month after accepting the job.

Last September while on our Panama Canal cruise we made a port-of-call stop in Acapulco to see a performance by the famous cliff drivers. Within hours our leaving the port 22 men on an excursion from Mexico City were kidnapped and murdered. Their bodies were found two weeks later in a mass grave outside of the city. To date no reason has been given for this massacre.

Acapulco was once a favored hideaway for the rich and famous, especially the Hollywood crowd. Now it is one of the most dangerous cities on the west coast of Mexico. Just think for a moment if 22 bodies were found in a mass grave outside of Benghazi, bodies of persons killed by Kaddafi’s loyalist troops. The world would be in an uproar. The UN would demand Kaddafi to go and we would be bombing Tripoli day and night. What about 34,000 butchered in four years? Where is the world’s outrage?

Now American teenagers are being recruited by Mexican drug cartels to carry drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas law enforcement officials say.

Over the past 10 years, 476 juveniles have been caught with drugs at a port of entry in El Paso County and 302 of them were U.S. citizens, according to the El Paso County attorney's office. It’s a scary trend authorities are trying to stop. “They’re being presented with this in the high schools now as a viable option for making money,” said Border Patrol Agent David Zapp.

Authorities say cartel members, who are blamed for thousands of deaths in Mexico, will pay American teens several hundred dollars to carry a backpack full of marijuana across the border. “They’ll tell them, 'look you’re a juvenile, you’re not going to jail, nothing’s going to happen to you,' ” said El Paso County Sheriff Deputy Manny Marquez.

But Marquez warns most teens don’t understand the reality and risks of helping the ruthless cartels. “They can suffer, anywhere — from just getting beat, to death,” Marquez said.

El Paso County attorney Jo Anne Bernal says the court system can be tough, too. “The legal consequences are things that can face them and affect them the rest of their lives,” Bernal said. “We’re talking about [being denied] jobs, college applications, and scholarships.”

On December 13, 2010 Jennifer Griffin reported; “While Mexico touts the killing as another drug kingpin taken care of, Guatemala, Mexico’s neighbor to the south, is worried about what this success might mean for its own safety. The country fears that the cartels will move south across a porous border using Guatemala as a new base for their operations.”

“The murder rate in Guatemala is already double that of Mexico, where more than 10,000 drug-related murders have taken place this year.”

“Now there is evidence that one of Mexico’s most vicious cartels, the Zetas, are setting up bases in Guatemala as they come under increasing pressure from Felipe Calderon’s government. The Zetas have set up training camps and are trying to intimidate Guatemalan cartels. So far they’ve forced at least one Guatemalan drug family to leave the country.”

Mexico is a failed state. It does not have the ability to provide security for its citizens and their criminal gangs are spreading throughout Latin America all the way to Brazil. A few years ago Colombia had a similar problem with the Medellín and Cali cartels but the Colombian government, with the assistance of the United States military, was able to dismantle these cartels. There is no such evidence that the Mexicans are willing to do the same.

I find it disgraceful that Felipe Calderon can come to the United States and lecture us on human rights over an Arizona immigration bill while allowing 34,000 of his citizens to be murdered by the criminal gangs that run his country. I can’t fault the people of Mexico for wanting to flee the country, I would do the same.

This violence is not limited to Mexico. It has splashed across the border with murders of citizens, ranchers, law enforcement officers, and border patrol agents in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. In essence it is tantamount to an invasion by these criminal gangs. An invasion we seem to be ignoring while we are anxious to save the dissidents in Libya.

It’s time for a no-tourist zone for Mexico. I would urge a boycott of tourism to the resort spas of Mexico. I would also establish a 10-mile border zone where no one could cross. The zone would be posted and patrolled by aircraft and Predator Drones with a shoot-to-kill authorization. If Calderon can’t stop the murders and kidnapping in his own country we, at least, have to stop it from encroaching on us.

As Representative Marsha Blackburn has stated; “Every town has become a border town and every State has become a border State.”

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