Tag Archives: Felipe Calderon

Mexico: U.S. Alleges Iranian Assassination Plot Involving Los Zetas

The following is my latest post for Global Voices (globalvoicesonline.org), published this morning.  My thanks to Silvia Vinas, editor of the Latin America “desk,” for her support.
 

On October 11, the U.S. Department of Justice charged two men with conspiring with “factions of the Iranian government” to carry out a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., Adel Al-Jubeir, and to bomb both the Saudi and Israeli embassies, all in Washington D.C.  Attorney General Eric Holder praised law enforcement and intelligence agencies who worked together to disrupt a plot “conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran.”

According to early reports by Al Arabiya and other news agencies,

The case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a U.S. informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.  The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents quoted by ABC News….

An aide to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the U.S. allegations that the Islamic republic was involved in a plot to kill the Saudi envoy.  “This is a prefabricated scenario to turn public attention away from domestic problems within the United States”… the president’s press advisor told AFP.

For a Spanish-language account of events, see Animal Político.

In the immediate aftermath of the press conference at which U.S. authorities first publicized the plot, blogsofwar.com began live-streaming tweets that responded to the provocative reports. In an apparent effort to promote coherence, the site divides the broad array of incoming tweets into three columns, headed “Iranian Plot,” “Mexican Drug Cartels” and “Saudi Arabia.” It is still livestreaming at the time of this post’s writing.

A Twitter search filtered through the hashtags #Mexico #Iran likewise turns up a spectrum of responses. While early tweets for the most part conveyed the details of the alleged plot, sometimes with links to news reports, it was not long before editorializing took over. @Sarmastian, based in Tottenham, was provoked to tweet twice in rapid succession:

@Sarmastian: #US have for years been looking for an excuse to crack down on Mexican border by linking cartels with IRGC. #Iran #Mexico #MidEast

@Sarmastian: #Iran could easily get to a #Saudi target within Saudi itself via non-Iranians. The news reported stinks inside-out. #US #MidEast #Mexico

Writing from Mexico, Carlos (@alquicarlos) used quotation marks, hashtags and a direct mention to Mexican President Felipe Calderón to inflect his intervention:

Que #NarcoUSAterror “descubrió” que los Z les maquilan armas de destrucción masiva a Iran #IRAN#MEXICO#INVASION traidor @felipecalderon

#NarcoUSAterror “discovered” that the Z [Zetas] make weapons of mass destruction for Iran #IRAN#MEXICO#INVASION traitor @felipecalderon

From the other side of the Rio Grande, @Lima570 from San Antonio wrote,

I hope no one is surprised that terrorist [sic] are working with Mexican drug cartel

Several netizens linked the alleged plot to the ongoing scandal over U.S. Operation “Fast and Furious”@JamesinSELA, for example, tweeted to a morning radio show:

@cspanwj If the mexican drug cartels are now terrorist organizations, did Holder give arms to terrorists?

In a similar vein, @TehGoldenRule posed a question that was not simply rhetorical.

@Ryan_Konky If that was an act of war what is letting 1,000s of assault weapons make their way to Mexican drug cartels?

From an unspecified location in the Twitterverse, @brownwc voiced a skepticism shared by many netizens around the globe.

Iranians hire Mexican drug cartel hit squad to assassinate Saudi ambassador. U.S. foils the plan. Can’t wait for the movie. #isthisreallife?

 

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Felipe Calderon’s Cabinet on Twitter

@GGalvanG (Guillermo Galvan G.), Secretary of National Defence, Mexico

My latest post for Global Voices, just published on their website and reproduced below.

Mexico: Felipe Calderon’s Cabinet on Twitter

Posted 19 April 2011 14:58 GMT
 
Written byDeborah Esch
 
In mid-April, the government headed by Felipe Calderon announced with much fanfare that every member of the cabinet was now registered on Twitter, and prepared to deal with the public more directly via social media.

Two reports in the Mexican mainstream media set the story in motion. Writing for CNNMexico [es] under the title “Mexico busca eficacia del gobierno electronico pese a la poca conectividad” (”Mexico looks for efficient government despite limited connectivity”), Hiroshi Takahashi reported on the presentation of the draft communique from the President, which features new language on the use of social networks including Twitter and Facebook, as well as a redesign of the website [es] associated with his office that now comprises nineteen blogs.

Alejandra Sota, the President’s Co-ordinator of Social Communication, pointed out [es] that Mexico leads Latin America in the use of Facebook, and occupies eighth place [es] in the region in its total of Twitter users. Ms. Sota elaborates on her blog [es], located on the revamped website:

El nuevo modelo de comunicacion digital de la Presidencia es un proyecto basado en el compromise con la innovacion pero, principalmente, con la transparencia; con el derecho de los mexicanos a saber, y con su obligacion de preguntar, de informarse, de debater y proponer….  A partir de hoy el gavbnete mexicano sera el primero completo en twitter en el mundo.

The new model of digital communication from the Presidency is a project based on a commitment to innovation, but mainly to transparency, to the right of Mexicans to know, and their obligation to ask, inquire, discuss and propose…. The Mexican cabinet will be the first in the world to be fully on Twitter.

A report by Maria del Carmen Cortes for El Universal [es] entitled “Timidos, muchos secretarios para expresarse en Twitter” (”Many secretaries are timid about expressing themselves on Twitter”), distinguished between the handful of secretaries who already had active accounts and significant followings on Twitter, and another group of users entirely new to the platform.

Pero lo cierto es que muchos de ellos prefieren pasar inadvertidos, mantanerse en silencio, sin emitir comentarios en esta plataforma instantanea….

La initiativa forma parte de una nueva forma de comunicacion del gabinete presidencial, cuyo objetivo es mantener comunicacion directo con los ciudadenos.

But the truth is that many of them prefer to go unnoticed, to keep quiet, not to comment on this instantaneous platform….

The initiative is part of a new form of communication on the part of the presidential cabinet, whose objective is to maintain direct communication with citizens.

Javier Lozano, the secretary of Labour and Social Welfare (who has declared his own presidential aspirations), is thus far the most popular and prolific of the ministers on Twitter, with more than 37,000 followers and over 11,700 tweets to his credit (at the time of writing this post). The timeline for his Twitter account, @JLozanoA, yields the following tweet, indicative of a certain level of comfort with the medium.

Ya me voy a dormir, no sin antes reconocer que Chivas perdio bien con un golazo de ultimo segundo contra Santos (en Guadalajara). Saludos.

Now I’m going to sleep, but not before acknowledging that Chivas lost even with a goal in the last second against Santos (in Guadalajara). Best wishes.

On the other end of the spectrum is the minister of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, with 1,408 followers and, to date, a single, somewhat redundant, tweet at @GenaroGarciaL.

La cuenta de twitter del Secretario de Seguridad Publica es @GenaroGarciaL

The twitter account of the Secretary of Public Security is @GenaroGarciaL

The secretary is, however, already on the receiving end of a number of tweets from his followers, including Ale (@aaleog), who directed the following messages to him:

@GenaroGarciaL el silencio informativo es la peor strategia

@GenaroGarciaL la mejor consigna es explicar en todo momento lo que se hace

@GenaroGarciaL informative silence is the worst strategy

@GenaroGarciaL the best slogan is to explain at every moment what is being done

The Secretary of Public Education, Alonso Lujambio, who can be reached @LujambioAlonso, is drawing a sometimes enthusiastic response from his followers. From Aguascalientes, Manuel Cortina (@manuelcortina) tweeted approvingly, appending the link to a twitpic of the minister:

Desayunando con @lujambioalonso  #AgsMx  http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Buen ejercicio democratico

Having breakfast with @lujambioalonso  #AgsMx  http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Good democratic exercise

The Attorney General, Marisela Morales, issued her first tweet from her account @MMoralesI, which took the form of a call for collective responsibility:

Solo con la participacion activa de la sociedad vamos a someter a la delincuencia

Only with the active participation of society will we subdue delinquency

Her followers appear to be of mixed minds about Mexico’s prospects. Guillermo Lozano A. D. (@glazanoad) wrote encouragingly from Leon, Guanajuato:

Marisela, cuenta con todo nuestro apoyo como sociedad, confiamos en tu capacidad y conviccion para acabar con la delincuencia

Marisela, count on all our support as a society, we trust in your capacity and conviction to put an end to delinquency.

Irma Zvelasco (@unpieenelcielo) was more equivocal:

@MMoralesI Esperamos que eso sea cierto, por q vamos muy mal

@MMoralesI We hope that is true, because we are going very badly.

It is worth noting that in the same week that the Calderon government trumpeted its full-fledged entry into social media, the World Economic Forum issued its Report on Global Information Technology 2009-2010. According to the study, Mexico ranks 78 out of 133 in the use of information technology –the same as the previous year. The report measures how likely countries are to take advantage of opportunities afforded by technology with regard to governance, business and public policy.

With the question of access to a range of technologies underlying the results of the WEF report, one user’s response to the announcement that Mexican ministers are now on Twitter takes on a particular resonance. Ivan Trejo Molina (@ivan_trejom) admonishes,

http://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / Sin embargo olvidan ke no todo Mexico esta en TW

http://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / However they are forgetting that not all of Mexico is on TW[itter]
 

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#estadofallido: Mexican netizens deploy the “failed state” meme

In my most recent post for Global Voices, reproduced below, I look at an example of the ways in which Mexicans are taking to citizen media to redeploy the language used by governments, the military and the mainstream media for their own critical purposes.  On Twitter, Mexican tweeps are savvy in their exploitation of the user-generated convention of the hashtag:  in this example, #estadofallido, which signals a range of responses to the idea, or topos, of Mexico as an actual or potential “failed state.”

#

 A feature article by political historian David Rieff , published in the online edition of The New Republic on March 17, 2011, provides a rich yet succinct context for the genesis of the idea or topos of Mexico as an actual and certainly a potential “failed state.” Its epic title, “The Struggle for Mexico,” is followed by an interrogative subtitle that raises a question that has been pending since late 2008:  “Its present is grim, its future uncertain – but is it a failed state?”

From a diplomatic point of view, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command did the incoming Obama administration no favors with the stark warning it issued in November 2008. In its annual evaluation of the threats America’s armed forces were likely to face in the future, it declared that, “[i]n terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.”

[….]

Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón. And so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose references to U.S.-Mexico relations during her Senate confirmation hearings had been so perfunctory as to be nonexistent in political terms, was obliged to make a trip to Mexico City in March 2009 to smooth relations between the two governments. This was followed the next month with a visit to Mexico City by President Obama himself. Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, quipped at the time that Calderón “wants to hear [Obama] say that Mexico was never a failed state, is not a failed state today, and even in their deepest, darkest fears will never, ever be a failed state.”

Flash-forward two years. “Buggs,” a founder of the popular blog Borderland Beat, which reports on drug violence from both sides of the border, picks up the thread and posts an article from the EFE news agency dated March 27, 2011.

President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday by the Spanish daily El Pais that Mexico was not a failed state and blamed the United States for the illegal flow of arms into his country. Calderon said he regretted the fact that the matter of referring to Mexico as a failed state appeared in a U.S. government report.

In Mexico, the meme has been adopted as the title of the blog Estado Fallido [es] (Failed State), whose mission statement reads:

Este blog nace por la necessidad de ofrecer una cronica periodistica de la ingobernabilidad, la desbordada crisis de seguridad nacional y la Guerra que vive Mexico.

Intelectuales, academicos y columnistas aun debaten si Mexico es o no es Estado Fallido. Lo cierto es que algunas regiones del pais han caido en la ingobernabilidad absoluta.

This blog was born from the need to offer a journalistic chronicle of the lawlessness, the spiraling national security crisis and the War that Mexico is experiencing.

Intellectuals, academics and columnists are still debating whether Mexico is or is not a Failed State. What is certain is that some regions of the country have fallen into absolute lawlessness.

On Revoluciones Mexico – RMX, blogger Gregorio Ortega Molina posted on April 4, 2011, under the title “Mexico va que vuela para Estado fallido” (”Mexico is well on its way to become a failed state”).

La decomposicion social, la anomia de los gobiernos, la debilidad de las instituciones, el desorden y la impossibilidad de dar seguridad juridica y publica porque la violencia y la desconfianza desborden a las autoridades, son sintomas que permiten establecer un diagnostico:  el modelo politico y economico de Mexico dio de si, y intentar la restauracion equivale a llamar a gritos la implosion de las fallas sistemicas y estructurales que afectan al Estado mexicano, para convertirlo en uno fallido.

Social decay, the anomie of governments, weakened  institutions, disorder and the impossibility of providing juridical security and public safety because violence and mistrust are overwhelming the authorities, are symptoms which can lead to a diagnosis: the political and economic model of Mexico gave rise to this, and attempting restoration is equivalent to crying out at the implosion of the systemic and structural flaws that affect the Mexican state, converting it into a failure.

Some commentators make the case that Mexico is emphatically not an #estadofallido (#failedstate). A post on the blog Burro Hall takes a pragmatic view:

While we continuously hear people refer to Mexico as a failed – or failing – state, no one here went to bed last night wondering if the government would still be functioning in the morning. (On the other hand, if that ever happened, 99% of the government workforce could easily be deemed nonessential.)

And writing under the title “En corto…sin cortes” [es] (”In short…without cuts”), columnist Jose Ortiz Medina provides a global framework for his argument against the “failed state” premise.

Veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Egipto, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en todo el Norte de Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Asia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo hace mucho tiempo en Somalia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en algunos de nuestros paises en America Latina.  En este pais todos los dias van a la escuela 36 millones de alumnus, puntualmente.  El pais functiona.  Tenemos poderes muy fuertes separados, independientes:  el Ejecutivo, el Legislativo, el Judicial.  Es un pais que tiene elecciones regulares.  Se gana y se pierde; se debate muy fuerte, no se persigue la prensa.  Hay absoluta libertad de publicar, de presenter todos los temas en un ambiente de libertad sin precedents en Mexico. […] La verdad es que Mexico esta realmente muy, muy lejos de ello.

I see what’s happening in Egypt, what’s happening in all of North Africa. I see what’s happening in Asia, in Africa, I see what’s been happening for a long time in Somalia. I see what’s happening in some of our countries in Latin America. In this country, 36 million students go to school every day, on time. The country functions. We have strong, separate, independent powers: the Executive, the Legislative, the Judicial. In this country we have regular elections. They are won and lost; they are hotly debated, and the press is not muzzled. There is absolute freedom to publish, to present ideas in an atmosphere of freedom that is without precedent in Mexico.[…]  The reality is that Mexico is very, very far from [being a failed state].

On Twitter, the ubiquitous hashtag #estadofallido (#failedstate) conjoins a range of analysis and opinion. Materia FECAL (@kklderon) tweeted a link to a Facebook page bearing a powerful photo of starkly anti-Calderon graffiti.

Carlos Campos (@CarolvsCampi) used the hashtag to point to a relevant report in La Jornada [es] which quotes former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva saying that violence in Mexico stems in part from a history of not paying attention to the poor.

Writing from the city Reynosa in the state of Tamaulipas in the aftermath of the latest discovery of mass graves in the region, Pablo Navarro (@DELREYII) took to Twitter to address his country’s president directly, signaling one among countless impacts of criminal violence on daily life in Mexico:

“Autobuses de pasajeros prefieron no cruzar por Tamaulipas y cancelan sus rutas” // @FelipeCalderon  Sr. Presidente ke sigue  #estadofallido

“Passenger buses prefer not to cross into Tamaulipas and are canceling their routes”// @FelipeCalderon  Mr. President, what next? #failedstate
 
 

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Mexico: Subcomandante Marcos on Calderon’s ‘War from Above’

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/03/01/mexico-subcomandante-marcos-on-president-calderons-war-from-above/

During the final week of an eventful February in the Middle East and North Africa, many on Twitter have taken to tweeting and re-tweeting an epigrammatic quotation attributed to the iconic spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), Subcomandante Marcos.

Its English translation, circulated by @EagleIreports, @culturatist, @paperstargirl and many others, reads: “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution.” The applicability to circumstances in Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia and around the region is all but self-evident. In Mexico, the Subcomandante has come to the forefront of netizen’s discussions with the recent publication of a letter about the country’s current problem with organized, drug related crime.

Subcomandante Marcos

Those seeking a refresher course on Marcos and his role in the Zapatista insurgency and ongoing campaign for human rights for the indigenous peoples of southeastern Mexico need only watch a recent interview with Marcos on the history of Zapatismo’s long struggle for dignity in the name of this forgotten segment of Mexican society.

Just as readers around the globe grasp the humor and urgency in “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution,” they now respond with fresh eyes and ears to Marcos’ declaration in the interview that “History is a battleground in this war.”

 
Subcomandate Marcos in Zapatista Caravan. January 29, 2006. Image by Flickr user orianomada, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

The Latest Letter: “About the Wars”

Meanwhile, on February 14, the website Enlace Zapatista [es], the online arm of theEZLN, opened another front with the publication of “Sobre las Guerras.” This was translated overnight by blogger Kristin Bricker as: “About the Wars: A Fragment of the First Letter from Subcomandante Marcos to Don Luis Villoro, beginning the correspondence about Ethics and Politics.” The text, dated January-February 2011, is part 2 of 4 which will appear in the next issue of Rebeldia magazine” (forthcoming at the time of this posting).

The recipient of the letter, Don Luis Villoro, is a long-time professor of philosophy at UNAM and the author of The Challenges of the Society to Come. The correspondence has as reference point, an earlier exchange of letters between Marcos and author John Berger.

Readers familiar with Marcos and the EZLN (which has not engaged in military operations since its initial insurgency in Chiapas in January 1994) may anticipate some of his argument: that the U.S will be the only winner in the Mexican government’s war on drugs; that President Calderon’s battle with organized crime was doomed from the start because it was conceived, “not as a solution to a problem of security, but to a problem of legitimacy”. The specifics of Marcos’ language in this fragment of a letter to Villoro defy easy summarization.

What follows are several citations from Bricker’s translation of the fragment of the first letter [find the text in Spanish at Enlace Zapatista]. Global Voices will track the correspondence as it unfolds.

As Mexican native peoples and as the EZLN, we have something to say about war.  Above all if it is carried out in our geography and in this calendar: Mexico, in the beginning of the 21st century….

And in all of Mexico, thanks to Felipe Calderon Hinojosa’s sponsorship, we don’t have to look towards the Middle East to critically reflect on war.  It is no longer necessary to turn the calendar back to Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, always Palestine.

I don’t mention Chiapas and the war against Zapatista indigenous communities, because it is known that they aren’t fashionable (that’s why the Chiapas state government has spent so much money so that the media no longer puts it on war’s horizon; instead, it publishes the ‘advances’ in biodiesel production, its ‘good’ treatment of migrants, the agricultural ‘successes’ and other deceiving stories that are sold to editorial boards who put their own names on poorly edited and argued governmental press releases).

The war’s interruption of daily life in current-day Mexico doesn’t stem from an insurrection, nor from independent or revolutionary movements that compete for their reprint in the calendar 100 or 200 years later.  It comes, as all wars of conquest, from above, from the Power.

And this war has in Felipe Calderon Hinojosa its initiator and its institutional (and now embarrassing) promoter.

The man who took possession of the title of President by de facto wasn’t satisfied with the media backing he received, and he had to turn to something else to distract people’s attention and avoid the massive controversy regarding his legitimacy: war.

When Felipe Calderon Hinojosa made Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamation that ‘this country needs a war’ his own (although some credit the sentence to Henry Cabot Lodge), he was met with fearful distrust from Mexican businessmen, enthusiastic approval from high-ranking military officials, and hearty applause from that which really rules: foreign capital….

It is not insignificant what is at stake…

In the first four years of the ‘war against organized crime’ (2007-2010), the main governmental entities in charge (the National Defence Ministry – that is, army and air force – the Navy, the Federal Attorney General’s Office, and the Ministry of Public Security) received over $366 billion pesos (about $30 billion dollars at the current exchange rate) from the Federal Budget.  The four federal government ministries received:  in 2007 over $71 billion pesos; in 2008 over $80 billion pesos; in 2009 over $113 billion pesos; and in 2010 over $102 billion pesos.  Add to that the over $121 billion pesos (some $10 billion dollars) that they will receive in 2011.

The war (which was lost from the moment it was conceived, not as a solution to an insecurity problem, but rather a problem of questionable legitimacy) is destroying the last redoubt that the Nation had: the social fabric.

What better war for the United States than one that grants it profits, territory, and political and military control without the uncomfortable body bags and cripples that arrived, before, from Vietnam and now from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Wikileaks’ revelations about high-ranking US officials’ opinions about the ‘deficiencies’ in the Mexican repressive apparatus (its ineffectiveness and its complicity with organized crime) are not new.  Not only amongst the people, but also in the highest circles of government and Power in Mexico, this is a certainty.  The joke that it is an unequal war because organized crime is organized and the Mexican government is disorganized is a gloomy truth.

What exists is an imposition, by the force of weapons, of fear as a collective image, of uncertainty and vulnerability as mirrors in which those collectives are reflected.

What social relationships can be maintained or woven if fear is the dominant image with which a social group can identify itself, if the sense of community is broken by the cry ‘Save yourself if you can’?

The results of this war won’t only be thousands of dead…and juicy economic gains.

Also, and above all, it will result in a nation destroyed, depopulated, and irreversibly broken.

[…]

Alright, Don Luis.  Cheers, and let critical reflection inspire new steps.

To date, the letter has been circulated on Twitter via links provided by @burgerchrist and a host of others. It has been reproduced in full on blogs including My Word is my Weapon –which is maintained by Bricker– Censored News, The Speed of Dreams and el Kilombo.

The blog post that has generated the most commentary – some of it heated, even hateful – can be found on blog del Narco [es], which excerpts a few passages from the letter and provides links for key terms. The 946 comments (as of 26/02/2011) make for difficult, sometimes chilling reading (one instance among others is a response posted by nuek [es]). Others, like that of Rvillareal [es], are more simply pragmatic:

El hecho es que Calderon ha actuado de una forma pertinente.  La guerra es dura y el pais no lo es.  No estamos listos para una guerra como esta, simplemente ataco desprevenidamente.

The fact is that Calderon has acted in an appropriate form. War is tough and the country is not. We are not ready for a war like this, simply attacked unawares.
 

[Rumours and reports are currently circulating about SCI Marcos’ state of health.  Ojala que esta bien, o que se mejore pronto.]

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