Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, February 20, 2009

Civil involvement of uncivil organizations

Mexico governor: Cartels behind northern protests

"Street protests against the army's presence in the northern city of Monterrey were organized by drug cartels in an apparent bid to disrupt the government's anti-drug crackdown, Mexican officials alleged Friday.

"Gov. Jose Natividad Gonzalez of Nuevo Leon state said this week's protests have snarled traffic in Mexico's third largest city, home to 3.7 million, and 'severely disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens.'...

"The army said in a statement that it had detained the alleged protest organizer, Juan Antonio Beltran, and that he had acknowledged paying people 200 to 500 pesos ($14-$35) to participate.

"Beltran purportedly also handed out backpacks stuffed with school supplies – 71 of which were found in his truck – to entice youths..."

Drug Tie Seen to Protests in Mexico

"They kill. They bribe. They launder money. And now Mexico’s drug cartels may have their hands in a new activity: street protests.

"A wave of demonstrations protesting the presence of army troops has swept through towns and cities across northern Mexico in recent days. The protesters have temporarily blocked border crossings in Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Ciudad Juárez and shut down parts of Monterrey, a major industrial hub in the northeast.

"Without providing evidence, the Mexican authorities say they see the hidden hand of traffickers in the splashy events...

"Mexican political parties have a long history of paying people to protest. The compensation can come in the form of a free lunch, cash or gifts. Those who turn out provide the outrage...

"Some Mexican newspapers have labeled the demonstrations 'narco-protests.' 'It’s a hypothesis you have to consider,' said Jorge Chabat, a security expert at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City. 'Someone is organizing these protests. They don’t seem spontaneous. Whoever the organizer happens to be is not showing their face.' A trafficker in Monterrey who was arrested last week initially acknowledged that he had helped organize the protests, the army said.

"Whoever is behind the demonstrations is tapping into widespread public discontent with the way Mr. Calderón’s government is waging its antidrug war..."

Marchers block US border to protest army presence

"Hundreds of people blocked bridges to the United States in three border cities Tuesday, demanding the army leave in another challenge for the Mexican government as it struggles to quell escalating drug violence...

"It was the largest display of discontent against the army's role in an anti-drug crackdown since President Felipe Calderon began deploying soldiers across the country two years ago to fight cartels. About 45,000 soldiers are now spread out across Mexico.

"Government and army officials claimed that drug cartels organized similar protests in Monterrey earlier this month to undermine the crackdown..."

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

The disappearing power of the government

Mexico police chief stands down

"The chief of police in Mexico's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, has stepped down amid ongoing threats.

"Roberto Orduna stepped down hours after a policeman and a prison guard were killed in the city, which has been wracked by drug-related violence.

"Criminal gangs had threatened to kill at least one police officer every two days until Mr Orduna quit...

"'We can't allow men who work defending our citizens to continue to lose their lives,' he said. 'That is why I am presenting my permanent resignation.'

"Mr Orduna had only been in the post since May; he took over after his predecessor was forced to flee across the border to Texas following death threats...

"The resignation was the latest evidence that drug gangs exercise formidable control over parts of northern Mexico, says the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City.

"Recent widespread anti-army protests in the region appear to have been largely orchestrated by the cartels...

"The government of Felipe Calderon has vowed to take on the drugs gangs, and some 40,000 troops have been deployed across Mexico since 2006 to battle cartels which make billions of dollars a year exporting cocaine and other drugs to the US.

"While this campaign has resulted in record drug seizures, it has also provoked a dramatic escalation in violence, as the gangs fight both one another and the federal forces."


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