Monday, April 12, 2010

El Degüello Pasa

ACCORDING TO WIKI, El Degüello means "no mercy" or "to put to the sword". The literal translation is "a throat slitting". Originally a bugle call, it was used by Howard Hawks in the 1959 flick, "Rio Bravo".

Well, FABIUS has an article, "Stratfor looks at Mexico: “The Struggle for Balance” featuring a by-permission re-post from STRATFOR on the Mexican Problem, written by Scott Stewart.

Why should you care?

The drug cartel problem in Mexico is getting worse as time goes on, to the point where some pundits are using dire descriptions like "failed state" in their ruminations about this very violent situation. The Mexican gangs have moved into the US big-time, and they'll be here soon. We have the taser-happy RCMP, who can't shoot straight. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

Certainly at that macro level, there is a lot of money flowing into Mexico and a lot of people, from bankers and businessmen to political parties and politicians, are benefiting from the massive influx of cash. The lure of this lucre shapes how many Mexicans (particularly many of the Mexican elite) view narcotics trafficking. It is, frankly, a good time to be a banker, a real estate developer or a Rolex dealer in Mexico.

However, at the tactical level, there are a number of issues also shaping the opinions of many Mexicans regarding narcotics trafficking, including violence, corruption and rapidly rising domestic narcotics consumption. At this level, people are being terrorized by running gunbattles, mass beheadings and rampant kidnappings — the types of events that STRATFOR covers in our Mexico Security Memos.

Mexican elites have the money to buy armored cars and hire private security guards. But rampant corruption in the security forces means the common people seemingly have nowhere to turn for help at the local level (not an uncommon occurrence in the developing world). The violence is also having a heavy impact on Mexico’s tourist sector and on the willingness of foreign companies to invest in Mexico’s manufacturing sector. Many smaller business owners are being hit from two sides — they receive extortion demands from criminals while facing a decrease in revenue due to a drop in tourism because of the crime and violence. These citizens and businessmen are demanding help from Mexico City.

These two opposing forces — the inexorable flow of huge quantities of cash and the pervasive violence, corruption and fear — are placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the Calderon administration. And this pressure will only increase as Mexico moves closer to the 2012 presidential elections (President Felipe Calderon was the law-and-order candidate and was elected in 2006 in large part due to his pledge to end cartel violence). Faced by these forces, Calderon needs to find a way to strike a delicate balance, one that will reassert Mexican government authority, quell the violence and mollify the public while also allowing the river of illicit cash to continue flowing into Mexico.

And the proposed North American trade corridor . . . looks like a continuation of that drug map.

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