‘Dirty War’ Tactic of Disappearances Reappears in Mexico

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

by Cyril Mychalejko

This article appeared at Toward Freedom.

The War on Drugs is becoming another “Dirty War” in Mexico, with the tactic of enforced disappearances reappearing as a commonplace occurrence in the country.

“Enforced disappearances in Mexico have happened in the past and continue to happen today,” the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances stated during a presentation of its findings in March.

The UN Group noted that during the country’s first “Dirty War”, which lasted from the late 1960′s to the early 1980′s, enforced disappearances was a systematic State practice used against students, indigenous peoples, peasants, activists and anyone suspected of being a critic or opponent of the government.

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Staying in Afghanistan

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Ross Eventon

A US soldier keeps watch at the site of an explosion in Logar Province south of Kabul Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Reports that the US is determined to maintain a presence in Afghanistan will surprise no one except 99% of foreign policy analysts.  Responding to the announcement that the US is in negotiations to maintain a presence until 2024, Mahdi Hassan, senior editor at the New Statesman, writes “the US-led invasions and occupations of both countries have been a dismal failure” because “the presence of western troops in Muslim lands has provoked more terrorism than it has prevented.”

Regardless, Obama escalated the conflict on coming to office.  Citing research that outlines the primary goal of suicide terrorism is to end foreign military occupations, Hassan asks, “Why does an intelligent politician such as Barack Obama have such difficulty understanding this?”

The Afghan and Iraq invasions were launched on the expectation they would increase the terrorist threat to domestic populations, as they duly did.   It is a remarkable example of extreme naivety or intellectual subservience that claims the US is concerned with reducing terror not be met with widespread ridicule.

As Julien Mercille, a lecturer at University College Dublin, points out in the journal Critical Asian Studies, the War on Drugs is equally vacuous.

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Private Contractors Making a Killing off the Drug War

June 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

by Cyril Mychalejko

As tens of thousands of corpses continue to pile up as a result of the US-led “War on Drugs” in Latin America, private contractors are benefiting from lucrative federal counternarcotics contracts amounting to billions of dollars, without worry of oversight or accountability.U.S. contractors in Latin America are paid by the Defense and State Departments to supply countries with services that include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, training, and equipment.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government’s use of contractors, have largely failed,”said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight which released a report on counternarcotics contracts in Latin America this month. “Without adequate oversight and management we are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we’re getting in return.”

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Mexico’s Drug War Victims Find Their Voice in Massive Silent March

May 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

by Kristin Bricker

This article first appeared at Upside Down World.

Drug war victims finally made themselves heard in Mexico in the most unlikely way: a nation-wide silent March for Peace with Justice and Dignity.

Over 100,000 Mexicans took to the streets over the weekend to protest the war on drugs, impunity, corruption, and violence. The largest march lasted four days and covered nearly 100 kilometers from Cuernavaca, Morelos, to Mexico City. On Thursday, May 5, about 500 protesters began marching in Cuernavaca. Along the way, more contingents joined the march, while other marches set out from different states to join the protest in Mexico City. By the time the marches met in Mexico City’s main square on May 8, an estimated 100,000 people were gathered to protest the war.

Those who couldn’t make the trip to Mexico City held protests in their own states. In Chiapas, 25,000 masked Zapatistas marched in complete silence to the main plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas, where Comandante David read a communiqué from Subcomandante Marcos. “Tens of thousands of people have died in this absurd war,” said Comandante David. “Their only sin was to have been born or lived in a country that is badly governed by legal and illegal groups who are thirsty for war, death, and destruction.”

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Human Rights in the Rear View Mirror: Colombian Commandos Training Mexican Military and Police

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

by Cyril Mychalejko

In another misstep of the historic failure of Plan Colombia and the U.S.-supported War on Drugs, Colombia is training thousands of Mexican soldiers, police and court officials in an effort to boost Mexico’s fight against drug cartels.

Trainings have mostly taken place in Mexico, but now Mexican troops and police are traveling to Colombia to receive training from “Colombia’s battle-tested police commandos,” The Washington Post reported on Saturday. The article also suggests that, in addition to asserting itself as a regional power, Colombia is acting as a proxy for Washington because increased U.S. military presence in Mexico is not politically viable.

White House Drug Policy Director Richard Gil Kerlikowske, while meeting with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón in Bogotá on January 18, said that Colombia “serves as a beacon of hope for other nations struggling with the threat to democracy posed by drug trafficking and related crime.”

A Beacon of Hope?

Kerlikowske’s deceptively rosy assessment of Colombia and the effectiveness of Plan Colombia is severely undermined by the facts on the ground.

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Mexicans “Tweeting” for their Lives in Violent Cities

September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Narco-blockade, as seen from a Tweeter's car.

by Kristin Bricker

In some northern Mexican cities, shootouts and dumped cadavers have been relatively common occurrences since President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug trafficking in late 2006.  However, in mid-2009, drug war mayhem took a new twist: narco-blockades. In Monterrey and Reynosa, two northern cities notoriously replete with organized crime, drug traffickers began to organize blockades that paralyzed entire sections of those cities.  The blockades are sometimes in retaliation for the detention of important organized crime figures.  In other cases, they are organized to prevent the police and military from acting against drug traffickers.

Often, during the blockades gunmen order civilians out of their vehicles.  The gunmen then use the vehicles to block key roads or intersections, and sometimes they set the vehicles on fire.  Shootouts with automatic assault rifles are common occurrences at the blockades.

In Reynosa and Monterrey, citizens have begun to use the online social networking service Twitter to alert fellow residents of potentially dangerous situations such as shootouts and blockades. Twitter allows users to send out 140-character messages to their “followers.”  It also allows users to create topics called “hash tags” by preceding words with a hash symbol (#).  The way in which Twitter organizes information allows users to communicate and disseminate very short messages very quickly.
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Politician’s Disappearance Raises Questions About Mexico’s Security Strategy

May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

by Kristin Bricker

A shorter version of this article appears on the Security Sector Reform Centre’s blog.

The presumed kidnapping of Diego “The Boss” Fernández de Cevallos, one of Mexico’s most powerful politicians, has put Mexico’s security crisis in the international spotlight yet again.

The Mexican government hasn’t officially classified de Cevallos’ disappearance as a kidnapping. However, the fact that his car was found abandoned on his ranch with traces of blood and signs of struggle has lead his family to plea that his “captors” make contact in order to negotiate his release. At the time of writing, it is unknown if de Cevallos is alive or dead.

The crime itself isn’t shocking—kidnappings are all-too-common in Mexico. Nor would de Cevallos be the first politician to fall victim to violent crime—several local politicians have been killed or attacked in recent weeks as the country prepares for interim elections. What sets this crime apart from others is that the victim is one of the most powerful men in Mexico.
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Mexican Soldiers Murder Two Children, U.S. Media Covers Up the Crime

April 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

"New Federal Government Slogan: So drugs don't fall into your children's hands, we are killing them for you."

By Kristin Bricker

Mexicans returning home after Easter vacation were greeted with horrifying news: Mexican soldiers opened fire on a vehicle full of children as their family headed to the beach for Easter Sunday.

According to Mexican press, the soldiers indiscriminately opened fire on the vehicle, and even threw fragmentation grenades.  La Jornada reports:

According to the victims’ complaint, the seven children and four adults were traveling in a Tahoe truck, driven by Carlos Alfredo Rangel, early Sunday morning.  When the vehicle passed the military checkpoint, Rangel observed that the soldiers were alongside the highway. Rangel slowed down, but the soldiers did not signal for him to stop.

After passing the checkpoint, the soldiers began to shoot indiscriminately at the vehicle; the adults say that they even threw multiple fragmentation grenades.

They recount that they experienced moments of terror and confusion as they got out of the truck and tried to run for the brush. Martín Almanza carried his sons Bryan and Michel, but at that moment he felt a bullet graze him.  His son Bryan was covered in blood.  He died in his arms.  Despite the fact that the civilians were screaming at the soldiers to stop shooting at them because there were children present, the soldiers ignored them and injured the other youngster, who died at the scene.”

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