The Narco News Bulletin
Name of Our Country is América"
A Narco News Global Alert
at 9 a.m. ET Friday Morning
Secretary of State, Jorge Castañeda, takes the helm on
December 1st. He says:
the Drug Trade
But Other Key Fox Appointees are
Allied with the Narco-Banking System
Narco News Analysis: On Friday, December 1, Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox,
will take office.
This week, Fox named the
first members of his cabinet.
Among a list of US-educated
businessmen who, by their own admission, will continue the neoliberal
economic policies imposed by the United States upon Mexico, Fox
also nominated as his Foreign Minister - the equivalent of the
Secretary of State in the US - the author and political consultant
Jorge G. Castañeda.
oversee the Mexican embassies abroad and deal face to face with
US and other foreign powers.
Reaction has been swift
and angry from certain sectors of the US foreign policy club,
a knee-jerking display of Cold War nostalgia that, on the surface,
denies logic: Castañeda, on the grand economic questions,
is one of them.
So how to explain the
bothered response from Roger Noriega, top aid to Senate Foreign
Relations Chairman Senator Jesse Helms? Noriega denounced Castañeda's
appointment instantly in an Associated Press story. He charged
that "Castañeda's attitude and writings have been
fairly anti-U.S." He continued, "Inasmuch that Mexico's
relations with the United States are so important, we were hoping
for someone in the foreign ministry who could play a constructive
role in that relationship. That may still happen, but it remains
to be seen whether Castañeda can put aside his anti-U.S.
prejudices and work with us."
"At a time when Mexico
is moving closer to the United States in economic terms, it will
move further away from the United States in diplomatic terms,"
Delal Baer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies
in Washington told the AP.
These voices of the extreme
right in US foreign policy circles are not speaking of Castañeda's
alleged "leftist" credentials; years ago Castañeda
abandoned them, dismissed the revolutionary movements of Latin
America, turned against Cuba, and in those matters is likely
to please his new critics, in part, by borrowing upon his "reckless
youth" to justify unjust US-imposed policies.
Then what's the rub? Why
are they criticizing Castañeda?
Simply put, Castañeda's
long-time and articulate stance against drug prohibition has
Friday morning update:
now having gained the powerful Foreign Ministry post that his
father held from 1977 to 1982, is not backing down from his position
against drug prohibition.
This morning's La Jornada
of Mexico City reports, in an article by Blanche Petrich:
Among the six challenges
of Mexican foreign relations over the next six years is to 'readjust'
the agenda in front of the United States, said the next Chancellor
Jorge Castañeda. Since 1994, he says, "we have found
ourselves without a compass, without ambition, without an agenda"
before the neighbor to the North.
"...We can no longer
simply react to the US positions," (said Castañeda),
"Mexico must insist" with a "grand campaign"
as it did to achieve the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) that the United States change its laws regarding certification
in the anti-drug fight and find 'a new focus' towards drugs.
On this point, Castañeda
tackles the problem with a perspective that many governments
recognize in private and elude in public: "The decriminalization,
over the long term, of certain substances that are currently
illicit... and the utilization of market mechanisms to undermine
the profits that come from the prohibited character of drug commerce."
Thus, it appears that
Castañeda is not backing down from his pro-decriminalization
position. To the contrary, he is hinting that a "grand campaign"
might be in the cards for bilateral relations in the coming years;
a campaign to call the bluff on the hypocrisy of US drug policy
A "Grand Campaign"
like that would resonate not just across Mexico, but will find
support, both open and behind the scenes, from other nations
and governments who suffer the failure of drug prohibition in
US policy toward Mexico
in recent years has desperately tried to keep the lid on the
drug legalization debate in Mexico. They see it as Pandora's
Box: If they let the debate happen, then history could follow.
US officials know that the Mexican public does not believe that
the drug war is sincere or meant to combat drugs. The Mexican
people have seen too much, they know better.
And so the Embassy and
other agencies have worked overtime to pressure academic institutions
and media outlets (recall that former US Ambassador James R.
Jones is now on the board of directors of TV Azteca in Mexico
City) and others to not allow serious discussion or debate of
In other words, US officials
cheer "democracy" in Mexico -- unless and until the
democratic will of the people disagrees with US policy.
The naming of Castañeda
as Secretary of State, while not likely to bring any rapid change
in drug policy (indeed, outgoing Secretary of State Rosario Green
is also sympathetic to drug legalization and in September of
1998 threatened that Mexico would begin abstaining from the drug
war if "decertified" by the US as a trusted drug war
ally), does bring Mexico a small step away from the national
debate that the US government dreads.
Castañeda - as
an internationally known author and columnist - is someone who
could, if provoked, bring the issue to the front pages. In that
sense, Fox's appointment of Castañeda serves as a potential
counterbalance to US pressures: The machinery is now in place
to launch that debate on a moment's notice.
Indeed, Mexican Civil
Society may provoke the debate before Castañeda even opens
his mouth on the theme.
The bulk of Fox's appointments
ought to be reassuring to the neoliberal social engineers in
the US regime: A band of bankers and business magnates who will
continue the delivery of Mexican natural and human resources
at cut rate prices to US interests, while wreaking havoc on the
environment and quality of life for the Mexican people.
The new economic team
will cover-up the FOBAPROA banking scandal and its narco-money
trail that leads into the United States. They will leave almost
no budget for social reconstruction, thus rendering most of Fox's
next wave of cabinet appointments moot before they are even announced.
Mexico's most widely-read
columnist, Carlos Ramírez, who has often defended the
Fox transition from its critics, seems especially disheartened
by Fox's choice of Treasury Secretary, Francisco Gil Díaz
(CEO of the Avantel cellular communications company, owned by
neo-Banamex president Roberto Hernández).
Ramírez wrote in
his Thursday column: "Fox's promises of social welfare will
have to be postponed until the next six-year term, or at least
while Gil Díaz lasts at Treasury."
has made a cabinet that answers to the sharing of power between
powerful political, economic and business groups. The Romo-Aspe
group and the Hernández-Banamex group get Treasury, but
the (telephone company magnate) Carlos Slim group obtained the
Secretary of Communications and Transportation."
The other appointment
announced by Fox yesterday that will generate a fierce polemic
is that of Rafael Macedo de la Concha -- the top military prosecutor
who has stood in the way of every human rights initiative in
Mexico under the PRI party -- as the next Attorney General of
the Mexican journalist most expert in Military and Law Enforcement
matters, revealed yesterday the details of a secret mission by
the outgoing Zedillo administration together with Fox transition
officials to Washington DC last week during which the US government,
in effect, approved General Macedo de la Concha as its Mexico's
"If it's already
a given that the President-elect has chosen to be pro-yankee,
and confirmed by the announcement that the next Attorney General
of the Republic, Rafael Macedo de la Concha was imposed by Washington,
then we the Mexican people are truly defeated," wrote González
in his syndicated column, "Tinta Negra," or Black Ink.
to this column indicates that last Wednesday and Thursday, November
15th and 16th, a group of officials from the Attorney General's
office and of the cowboy Fox traveled to Washington to meet with
their counterparts in that country, to propose the designation
of General Macedo de la Concha, the current military prosecutor,
to the foreign government."
"In this historic
trip, according to information given by some discontented members
of the PAN party of Vicente Fox, they flew in an airplane of
the Attorney General's office to Washington with assistant attorneys
general Everaro Moreno, Navarrete Prida and Eduardo Nicolín
from the PGR, and those present from Fox's team were Rafael Macedo
de la Concha (and) José Luis Vázquez Reyes...."
"The goal of this
trip was to meet with representatives of the United States police
agencies, including the CIA, the FBI and the DEA among others,
as well as Department of Justice officials of that powerful country,
to receive their blessing for the military prosecutor."
And so we repeat what
we have said all along at Narco News about the Mexican
transition from 71 years of one-party rule: Deeds, not words,
will decide the legacy of the Fox government.
In the next week before
his December 1st inauguration, Fox will make some other important
appointments, such as his Interior Minister, various key undersecretaries,
and the planned "Super-Secretary" of Public Safety.
The real and immediate
history begins on December 1st.
We maintain that the first
indication of whether change has come to Mexico, or just more
of the same under different party colors, will be determined
by whether Fox complies with the San Andrés Peace Accords.
Those agreements, as they were signed in 1996 by the government
and the Zapatista rebels, provide for indigenous autonomy. They
were signed and sealed, but not delivered.
Fox must comply with that
agreement, as he promised in his campaign.
And to accomplish the
peace, Fox will have to order the federal military troops out
of the "low intensity" war-zone of Chiapas, where the
Armed Forces now manage the drug trade instead of combatting
If Castañeda is
sincere, he's going to have his hands full.
As a public service, we
print here the full text of Jorge Castañeda's September
6, 2000 Newsweek column advocating for the legalization
From somewhere in a Country
The Narco News Bulletin
As a Public Service,
We Print the Words of Mexico's new Secretary of State:
How We Fight
A Losing War
time is right for Latin and North Americans to rethink a failed
Newsweek, September 6,
In the central-western
canyons of the Mexican
border state of Chihuahua, where waterfalls and abandoned mines
blend in with secret landing strips and vertical mountain plots,
the few remaining peasants have a choice. They can cultivate
corn on barren cliffs, or they can receive 300 pesos for each
kilo of marijuana they grow on their own land, paid by the pilots
who will deliver the cargo to the border of the United States,
a few hundred miles to the north.
The farmers' cut may not
seem much, and it is certainly a great deal less than the 5,000
pesos per kilo that the plane crews obtain for their work. Still,
marijuana is more profitable than any legal crop in a countryside
that is breathtaking in its beauty but not really meant for men
and women to live on. For the pilots the payoff is much more
substantial. A small single-engine plane can carry half a ton
of marijuana; the profit margins are huge, and the risks, at
least on the Mexican side of the border, are virtually nil. There
are dozens of 200- or 300- meter strips in the area, and the
planes fly so low that they cannot be picked up by radar, balloons
or any other surveillance mechanism. Once near the border, the
cargo is offloaded onto trucks, cars, buses and nearly anything
that moves, on its way north, east and west into the United States.
Delivering the goods is
tougher work, more dangerous but better paid. And that, of course,
is the point; at every stage in the chain of supply, there is
an opportunity for someone to make more money dabbling in drugs
than he would from legal work. This battle of the war on drugs
in Mexico was lost before it began.
Such also seems to be
the case in Colombia. The country was not traditionally a coca-leaf-producing
nation; the crops were grown in Peru and Bolivia, harvested there
and then shipped on to Colombia, where further refining took
place. But since Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori imposed
a virtual no-fly zone along his borders, shooting down anything
that flew or moved, the cartelitos have sown vast fields of coca
leaf in Colombia. On some estimates, there are now 110,000 hectares
of coca in Colombia, and to that can be added a large poppy crop,
used to produce heroin, and traditional marijuana plantations.
Colombia is now taking full advantage of its resources and climate;
there, too, the war on drugs is being lost.
It's hard to find a place
where the war on drugs is being won. Certainly not in Miami,
where charges were brought last week against more than 50 American
Airlines and Miami International Airport employees, accused of
smuggling drugs into the United States in food bins, ashtrays
and garbage bags. And there are no winners, either, in Austin,
Texas, where Gov. George W. Bush's travails have led Latin Americans
to wonder where all the hypocrisy on drugs leads. What is the
purpose of investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight
against drugs, plunging countries into civil war, strengthening
guerrilla groups and unleashing enormous violence and corruption
upon entire societies, if American leaders can simply brush off
questions about drug use in their youth?
The issue here is not
whether such questions relate to private matters (they undoubtedly
do), nor whether small-time peccadilloes 30 years ago should
disqualify someone from contending for the White House (they
clearly should not). The point is that according to the polls,
none of the debate about what Bush may have ingested, when, seems
to worry the voters. But if that is so, why should Latin Americans
get worked up about drug abuse in the United States, either by
statesmen in the White House or teenagers in the ghettos? Either
cocaine and marijuana are terribly dangerous substances, and
breaking the law by consuming them is a major offense that should
be severely punished, or these are minor, personal matters that
do not really count in the big picture of a man's life. If the
latter is the case, then the rationale for a bloody, costly and
futile war against drugs simply disappears.
Indeed, the time is uniquely
propitious for a wide-ranging debate between North and Latin
Americans on this absurd war that no one really wants to wage.
The United States has a Republican candidate bothered by awkward
questions about past drug use, a squeaky-clean Democratic candidate
and an open-minded lame-duck incumbent; in Latin America, particularly
in Colombia and Mexico, the whole question of drugs now engenders
a growing sense of despair. This may be the moment for rethinking
the war on drugs.
Such a debate should start
with a coldblooded evaluation of what has worked and what has
failed. Talks could then move on to examining ways in which market
and price mechanisms can be brought to bear on the drug business
in order to make it less lucrative, and so to align its relative
prices with those of other goods--which would reduce the trade's
propensity to engender corruption. Finally, the legal implications
of such market mechanisms should be examined.
In the end, legalization
of certain substances may be the only way to bring prices down,
and doing so may be the only remedy to some of the worst aspects
of the drug plague: violence, corruption and the collapse of
the rule of law. To many in the United States, for good reasons
and bad, legalization remains anathema; but its costs and benefits
must be assessed in the light of the pernicious, hypocritical
and dysfunctional status quo. Using present tactics, the war
on drugs is being lost; it is long past time to reassess a failed
Early Narco News
Stories that provide context for this story:
is Not Clamoring for War"
April 2000, LA Times
Mexican Transition: Immediate History
The Truth Star
Is Fully Operational