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Thread: Mexico

  1. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr BoShambles View Post
    Ronfeldt and Arquilla, in their work on netwar (pdf chapters available to download here), identify two key principles which seem relevant here:

    firstly: that ‘hierarchies have a difficult time fighting networks’;

    thus, secondly, that ‘it takes networks to fight networks’.
    What chapters should I print out?

  2. #17

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    Who is at the centre of the drug gangs' networks?

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Who is at the centre of the drug gangs' networks?
    Vulliamy wrote a good overview last year.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008...ocaine-cartels

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    What chapters should I print out?
    Chap 1 for discussion of the basic thesis. Chap 3 for analysis (by Williams who i just linked to) of criminal networks - most relevant to this discussion. On Mexico:

    In Mexico, [President] Salinas was able to amass a personal fortune as his reward for providing high-level protection and support for drug traffickers. Over $130 million was deposited in Swiss banks, much of it via Citibank in New York. General Guttierez, who was head of Mexico’s antidrug unit yet in the pay of major drug traffickers, provides another example of the capacity of criminal networks to insinuate themselves into licit institutions in ways that are highly corrosive of the power, authority, and purpose of these institutions. It is this capacity that makes criminal networks so difficult to attack. Indeed, the next example highlights how a criminal network can embed or nest itself in a legitimate financial institution. (p. 87-8)
    Last edited by Mr BoShambles; 27-02-2009 at 03:00 PM.

  5. #20
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    My brother, who works at a well-known consultant firm, recently told me that the situation at his company's Mexico City branch is getting so perilous that they have a hard time recruiting international talent. Apparently, one of the senior partners had had her children kidnapped and held for ransom, several workers had had their homes looted at gunpoint, and street muggings were of increasingly frequent occurrence.

    It would be interesting to hear a take from some of our Mexico-based Dissensians. I remember someone mentioning that he or she lived in Monterrey.

  6. #21

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    Williams (p 95-6) on fighting transnational organised crime networks:

    One other important component of the response to defeating criminal networks is that governments and law enforcement agencies, in effect, need to mimic network structures. One of the advantages criminal networks enjoy is that they are smart, future-oriented organizations locked in combat with governments that, by contrast, are often hobbled by a variety of constraints. Governments still operate along hierarchical lines and are further hindered by bureaucratic rivalry and competition, interagency antipathies, and a reluctance to share information and coordinate operations. Working from John Arquilla’s and David Ronfeldt’s proposition that it takes a network to defeat a network, the most successful attacks on criminal networks are likely to be those carried out by innovative law enforcement structures that transcend the normal bureaucratic way of doing business. Joint task forces, in which there are a pooling of resources and information and a concerted attack on a particular criminal network, provide an important value-added approach to attacking criminal networks. They can be particularly useful where they involve transnational cooperation in response to a transnational criminal network.

    Of course high level corruption (edit: within Mexican politics) massively complicates this. And - i read somewhere earlier - the US is not keen on sharing intelligence with the Mexican authorities for exactly this reason - so the potential for effective joint US-Mexican operations is highly compromised.
    Last edited by Mr BoShambles; 27-02-2009 at 03:34 PM.

  7. #22

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    Cheers all.

    Going forward, what are the expected short and long term outcomes? Like any social equilibria, war is self-sustaining -- civil war breeds civil war breeds civil war... Where can and will Mexico go from here?

    Oh, and Mr BoShambles -- be interested to hear your take on the recent operations against the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Are the LTTE less net-centric and hence more vulnerable?

  8. #23
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    The artist Francis Alys points out in the new issue of Art Monthly that:

    "...Jerusalem is the cradle of western civilization, and that's a large part of the reason why it has such international resonance. But it is a minor conflict. I'm afraid to say this, but as important as it may be - and of course any human life that is lost is the important thing in the world - if you look at the numbers, I would say that since the beginning of this year [2008] there must have been around a maximum of 100 victims or so, whereas the narcotics conflict in Mexico has so far claimed the shocking figure of almost 3,000 victims. Does the British press talk much about this internal gang war? I doubt it."

    Alys was apparently speaking before Israel's Christmas campaign in Gaza pushed this number up dramatically.

    **

    At the beginning of the Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano quotes Malcolm Lowry:

    "Do you want Mexico to be saved? Do you want Christ to be our king?"

    "No."

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    I'm thinking in terms of the state apparatus remaining, but being disfunctional, i.e. who controls it -- narcos, elected officials, bit of both, neither, who?
    that's a good term, Vim, hollowed out state.

    simply put, is the spike in violence a sign of some desperate cartels, squeezed with some limited success, lashing out with increasing viciousness? or is it evidence that some are now so powerful in some areas, they are in fact not desperate but in control, it's just they of course don't care and so do what they do.
    i've read enough stuff suggesting either, but, well, that open Democracy piece ended persuasively.

    bit specific this one on the all-too-common, well known abroad crimes of las muertas de Juárez but thought i'd big up The Juarez Project people.

    Guybrush: did your brother's colleague get her kids back essentially physically unharmed? (i'm assuming so.)

    bleurgh.


    "Amid growing alarm over drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Mexican government will deploy as many as 5,000 more troops to the border city, officials said Thursday."

    incidentally, for English language readers, the LAT has an ongoing series, Mexico Under Siege.
    "Sinaloa cartel investigation by the numbers"

    Economy Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Mateos recently said that if the cartels were not confronted, Mexico ran the risk of having a drug-runner as its next president.


    the Stew Maker claimed he was on $600 p/week.

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Oh, and Mr BoShambles -- be interested to hear your take on the recent operations against the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Are the LTTE less net-centric and hence more vulnerable?
    I know very little about it vim. Here is an article discussing the structure of the LTTE - sound like a proto-state to me. Don't know how reliable this source is though.

    Can you link to any good coverage of whats been going on recently?

  11. #26
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    I'm not Mexican obv but I have spent a lot of time there, have a lot of Mexican friends both there & here (including a lot of illegals of course). tho I haven't been there in ~3 yrs, so take this with a grain of salt - it seems like all of this is stuff that has been going on for a long, long time & that Rand & whoever are just sitting up & taking notice.

    the police & army have always been corrupt, the cartels have always fought each other & the govt., the border is ever a hotbed of misery & violence (also a point that hasn't been mentioned - Mexico's border with Guatamala is a total mess, a failed border if there is such a thing), Juarez killings date back more than a decade & soldiers have been there for I believe several yrs. perhaps there is some tipping point at which this becomes a "failed state", I don't know, really from people I stay in touch with daily life is pretty much the same.

    there have always been no-go zones & that, kidnapping has always been a threat for well-to-do Mexicans & for cartel reasons a la Colombia - I remember travelling through Sinaloa a few yrs ago & talking with numerous ppl about the local practice of narcos/other robbers posing as police & stopping buses to shake the passengers down. it happened with such startling regularity that everyone was pretty non-plussed by the phenomenon. perhaps kidnapping is on the rise among foreigners which of course would make foreigners take more notice.

    *EDIT* nevermind about the Rand piece - just read through it & saw he's actually talking about 1910-1920
    Last edited by padraig (u.s.); 27-02-2009 at 04:53 PM.

  12. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig (u.s.) View Post
    also a point that hasn't been mentioned - Mexico's border with Guatamala is a total mess, a failed border if there is such a thing
    in what sense? i know the Zapatista movement is based in Chiapas - in the Lacandon jungle which straddles the border with Guatemala. but i crossed this border 3 years ago and everything seemed functional (latin american style).

  13. #28

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    You mean along these lines?

    Little attention has been given to the injustices being committed along Mexico’s Southern border because the victims there are mainly poor, bereft of influence and largely invisible migrants. When Washington finally began putting pressure on Mexico to halt illegal immigration where it begins, Mexico began to address its southern border with a heightened level of seriousness. As Chiapas is Mexico’s least developed state and Guatemala is one of the least developed countries in Central America, both areas have focused their solutions on economic development and increased preventative interdiction. However, development becomes a controversial subject when it translates into slicing through Chiapas’ rainforests and the home of the Mayan culture. Also, the dissident Zapatistas, which are a large political presence in Chiapas, will reject any plans which they believe mimics the pseudo-development schemes that chronically occur throughout the rest of Central America. This will be any plans highlighting conventional economic inputs and outputs, instead of social development of indigenous peoples living in the area, and planning for a more equitable redistribution of wealth, is likely to be rejected as not being germane.

    Increasing the level of policing of immigration trafficking in the area can become controversial, as neither Mexican nor Guatemalan police have the best human rights track records for efficiency and professionalism. Indigenous inhabitants are highly skeptical of the personnel attached to the government who already deal with them. Being the habitual victims of corruption, abuse and violence by state officials, adding more of the same to the fears affecting the indigenous border population is just not an option. Fear is mounting that the border is now becoming overtly militarized and could become an area of confrontation between the Zapatista Guerrilla Army and the region’s national border.

    from here

  14. #29
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    actually, Vimothy, a succinct answer to your question would be "business as usual, or perhaps a little crazier than usual". the problem being that "business", when it comes to the Mexico, the U.S. & our shared border, has had a whole host of thorny problems since roughly forever.

  15. #30

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    Sadly very much in the dark, WRT Sri Lanka. Here's a Stratfor piece (for some reason, without paragraphs) on recent events:

    Summary The Sri Lankan government has rejected the Tamil Tigers' unilateral cease-fire and instead launched a major military offensive that could lead to the rebels losing their remaining positions in the Jaffna Peninsula, including strategically important Elephant Pass. Sri Lankan troops are likely to push the Tigers into the jungle, changing the conflict's nature from a conventional war to a guerrilla war. With this change, the government forces probably will fail to eliminate the LTTE's armed resistance. The rebel forces might not be in the best shape now, but the government's desire to quickly end the conflict by military means will not succeed.Analysis The Sri Lankan government has rejected an offer by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to extend a unilateral cease-fire until Feb. 24. Instead, the Sri Lankan military continued a major military offensive on the Jaffna Peninsula in the north, recapturing nearly all territory lost to the LTTE in fierce fighting last year, according to the British paper The Independent. Government forces are gearing up for a final offensive to push the LTTE from Elephant Pass, a strategic rebel-held land corridor linking the peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka. Despite talk of a truce and attempted intermediation by a peace team from Norway, the Sri Lankan government is clearly seeking a military solution to the 18-year ethnic war. With overwhelming forces poised to launch land and air strikes on rebel positions, the military is likely to drive the LTTE back into the jungles. The government victory will be short-lived, however, as the rebels will revert to guerrilla and terrorist tactics better suited to their abilities. Since 1983, the LTTE have been fighting for an ethnic Tamil homeland in the north and east of the predominately Sinhalese Sri Lanka. The years of fighting have left more than 64,000 people dead and hampered economic growth and development in Sri Lanka. In April 2000, LTTE forces overran the strategic military base at Elephant Pass, pushing forward to capture much of the Jaffna Peninsula, which had been under nominal Tamil control until 1995. Before recapturing the city of Jaffna, which has significant historical and cultural meaning for the Tamils, government forces received an influx of new weapons, stopping the Tigers short of their goal. Government and Tiger forces have since hunkered down in a trench-warfare campaign, with each side gaining and losing ground alternately. Better-armed and prepared for conventional warfare, the Sri Lankan military now appears to have regained the upper hand in the conflict on the peninsula. Sri Lankan infantry troops are about 10 miles from the edge of the main rebel base at Elephant Pass. Currently the military deploys light and medium tanks, field and medium artillery, and 16 multiple barrel rocket launchers (MLRS) from the Czech Republic. The military also has nearly unopposed air superiority, flying ground-attack missions with Israeli-made Kfir and Russian-made MiG combat planes. Click here to see a map of Sri Lanka.The Tigers counter with Chinese-made 122mm and 152mm artillery pieces, as well as MLRS, mortars - mostly 81mm - and land mines that inflict significant casualties on government troops. Gradually, Tamil rebels accrued weapons in ambushes or when pushing back government troops. Tigers keep some tanks and various rockets in reserve as well. If government troops retake the pass, rebel forces on the peninsula will be cut off from their supply routes to Sri Lanka's interior. The loss of the Jaffna Peninsula will further jeopardize the Tiger's food and armaments supply route, as the peninsula is the closest point to sympathetic ethnic Tamils in India. While a victory in Elephant Pass and the Jaffna Peninsula will boost the beleaguered government and its military forces, it will be short-lived. Far from ending the armed conflict, the fighting will simply shift from the current conventional war, which heavily favors government troops, to the more traditional jungle war that favors the Tigers. The government seems to have misinterpreted the Tigers' truce offer as an indicator of weakness. Though the LTTE forces apparently need time for regrouping after the last heavy battles, there are no signs that their number or morale is declining. The latest losses of dozens of men, as reported by the government, cannot drastically decrease the strength of the guerrillas. Nor has there been any news of desertion, even in minor numbers. All LTTE cadre comprise unpaid volunteers who are prepared for self-sacrifice in the name of creating an independent Tamil statehood. With rare exception, Tigers prefer to take cyanide rather than surrender, according to Lake House, Sri Lanka's news agency, on Jan. 18. As Sri Lankan troops beat Tamil separatist rebels back into the jungles, the Tigers will launch guerrilla-type operations, combined with terrorist actions all around the country. The government will answer with counter-insurgency operations and heavy aerial bombardments. In this type of war, however, the government forces are unlikely to continue enjoying success or to eliminate the LTTE's armed resistance. The army's responsibilities are already stretched: Half an army is defending the Jaffna Peninsula and fighting rebels while the other half guards strategic positions all around the country. The physical topography and size of most of the war theater consists of jungle, precluding the possibility of eliminating LTTE armed cadre. With the exception of a major sea base in Mullaittivu, all major LTTE bases are scattered throughout a large jungle area of about 5,000 square miles, with heavy woods, bad roads and a sparse population. This region is ideal for guerrilla forces and presents serious difficulties for motorized and infantry units of a conventional army. Even if Sri Lankan troops managed to occupy LTTE-held urban centers of the littoral south of the Jaffna Peninsula, the rebels can retreat into this interior jungle region. It affords safe haven and a prime area from which to mount surprise incursions. In addition to jungle warfare, however, the Tigers rely on terrorist tactics to advance their cause. According to Jane's Defense Weekly, the LTTE has the world's highest suicide bombing rate, with 62 percent of such cases involving the LTTE between 1980 and 2000. Out of the 271 suicide bombings in the world between 1980 and 2000, the LTTE carried out 168. With the government rejecting the Tigers' cease-fire and the latter suffering setbacks on battlefield, the LTTE is likely to expand its terrorist activities. The annihilation or expulsion of Tigers from these jungles and physical occupation of the interior by the government forces would require a considerable increase in the number of government troops. The current ratio of 10 to 1 in favor of the army - roughly 110,000 government troops and 11,000 guerrillas - may be sufficient for conventional war, but insufficient for finding and destroying Tigers in the jungle. Nor would the number be adequate to blockade the Tigers, as the area covered would be too large. In general, the rebel fighters are much more determined than Sri Lankan soldiers. Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, who advocates a hard line against the LTTE, plans to establish a new volunteer brigade to boost the military campaign against the Tigers. But enthusiasm is not high among Sinhalese youth. Students at some universities have taken to wearing black-and-white bands protesting the government's rejection of the rebels' cease-fire, according to The Lanka Academic on Jan. 25. In contrast, Tigers continue to enjoy support among ordinary Tamils on the island. Many still feel oppressed by the central government and Sinhalese majority and see Tigers as their only defenders. Parliament has yet to debate the promise to give broad autonomy to the Tamils, on which the current Sri Lankan president rose to power last year. The broad sympathies and support given to Tigers by a few million Tamils is a guarantee and indicator that their armed struggle will continue no matter what success the government achieves on the battlefield. The government appears prepared to launch a final offensive to drive the Tigers off the Jaffna Peninsula. The most likely consequence will be the change in the armed conflict from conventional war to a guerrilla one, with an increased terrorist campaign by Tigers. Under such changes, government forces would have little chance at winning not just a military operation but also the whole war.

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