Hendricks traveled to the other (Pacific) ocean to give a speech at the April 10th "Tourism Tag Sale" in Acapulco.
One could almost hear the din of thousands of drug-addled gringos and other tourists in Cancún, Cozumel and Playa de Carmen as they held up their straws and toasted to the governor's great leadership in eliminating drug trafficking in his state.
Meanwhile, Mexican armed forces continue with orders not to inspect or go enter the 43 kilometers of beachfront sanctuary owned by the "narco-banker" Roberto Hernández at Punta Pajaros in that state's "Coca Triangle."
If Hendricks had instead said "boat traffic of cocaine through my state has diminished" he might not have provoked so many snickers or sneezes.
"...is considered a grave omission on the part of Mexican authorities, having to do with a governor related with drug trafficking, who was not investigated or even cited to appear before the last two politicians who had contact with Mario Villanueva Madrid. I am referring to then-subsecretary and now Secretary of Government Diódoro Carrasco Altamirano and the governor of Yucatán, Victor Cervera Pacheco..."
Of course, US officials are quick to criticize something that everybody knew was going to happen before it did. What action did US officials take last March, as Villanueva was about to leave public office? Nothing! They too let him get away, because Washington, like the Mexican federal regime, do not want Villanueva on public trial where he has said he will surely talk about just how high narco-corruption leads among public officials of both countries.
The Pacific states of Oaxaca and Guerrero have picked up the slack: the same Colombian shark boats that beforehand had dumped between 1.2 and 1.6 tons of cocaine apiece on Quintana Roo beaches now race up the Pacific coastline.
Playa Bonfil, coincidentally, is the beach that straddles the Acapulco international airport, no longer international since the Mexican federal tourism agency severely cut the number of international flights coming in and out of Acapulco (this, after an opposition coalition seized control of City Hall last October).
The Acapulco airport is increasingly a ghost runway. Gone are the 747s filled with gringos and in their place a constant stream of small cargo planes heading north to the United States. (See columnist Manu Dornbierer's account of the airport's woes in El Financiero -- Mexico's version of a Wall Street Journal type daily -- in the April 1 edition.)
The Mexican military has a strong presence at the airport, as does the PGR -- the attorney general's office -- where agents conveniently staged a statewide "labor strike" on April 7th demanding a 100% increase in pay and easing of the agency's drug-testing policies. PGR helicopters from Acapulco to Chilpancingo sat dormant on the runways at the precise moment that millions of dollars of cocaine was passing by.
This level of impunity was par for the course in the humid Acapulco April. The federal tourism secretary Oscar Espinoza inaugurated the"Tourism Tag Sale" -- hosting thousands of tour agencies from around the world -- with Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo on August 9th. Espinosa, the former mayor of Mexico City, was charged a week earlier with embezzling $45 million US dollars from city coffers by the new opposition prosecutor in the world's largest metropolis.
Narco News update: The Mexican drug czar, Mario Herrán Salvatti announced on April 20th that his office and the Mexican military have "discovered" that the Pacific ocean is "the new route" of naval cocaine trafficking through Mexico.
(Behind the scenes he's also been asking certain members of the Mexican press about the publisher of The Narco News Bulletin. We welcome him to ask us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Herrán Salvatti and his crew supplied many statistics on kilos seized by military and law enforcement sources in Guerrero, Oaxaca and other states (see La Jornada, April 21, "They discover that the pacific is the new route of cocaine transport" by Gustavo Castillo García).
In another development, the commander of anti-drug police forces in the state of Oaxaca was assassinated on April 20th in the city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca. That case is under investigation.
These developments came just days after the April 18th report in Narco News, above, that reported, we repeat:
"The Pacific states of Oaxaca and Guerrero have picked up the slack: the same Colombian shark boats that beforehand had dumped between 1.2 and 1.6 tons of cocaine apiece on Quintana Roo beaches now race up the Pacific coastline."
You read it here first in Narco News. The facts of our report have just been confirmed by the Mexican drug czar.
"The US government ordered its border agents to leave Mexico due to the climate of violence that prevails in Baja California. It is not known whether the order applies to agents in other parts of Mexico.
"US authorities are alarmed, according to the SUN news service. They fear that the three Mexican antidrug officials were tortured and assassinated last week to extract from them the names of US agents with whom they work. ..."
Which raises the question: How serious is this "drug war?" Imagine if during the Gulf War, to cite a recent example, the Pentagon pulled its troops out of Iraq because three soldiers were tortured and might have given information about others. Such a move would certainly call into question Washington's seriousness toward the conflict. This latest move exposes what some former DEA officials have said: the DEA (and FBI) are spinning their wheels in Mexico. They try to look busy, but they're not serious. Not at all. How could they be? The US prohibition policy is a cynical game that creates the problem, causes harm upon millions, and then assures the victims that the government is busy solving it.
DEA agents -- some sincere, others corrupt -- are mere public relations pawns moved around on the chess board by cynical DC bureaucrats. Neither the functionaries inside the Beltway nor the agents in the field have the commitment of soldiers to their mission. It's a paycheck, Jack. One that will keep coming as long as the drug war is never won. And every one of them -- if you put them on a lie detector -- knows that US drug enforcement, at home and abroad, will never, ever solve the drug problem. For those collecting salaries to "fight against drugs" the prohibition is the gift that keeps on giving eternally to a few while robbing money, liberty and tranquility from the many.
Narco News update: The DEA announced on April 21 that it will redeploy its troops in Mexico.
"Why?" recently asked one Mexican political observer. "Why do they keep this guy in office after so much scandal he's had with narco-corruption?"
They control him. God knows what they have on him, but Madrazo is the US Embassy's most effective spokesman in Mexico. Madrazo defended Ambassador Davidow's verbal attacks on the country ("he must have been misquoted or badly translated," said the nation's top prosecutor). And it was Madrazo who last December authorized -- behind the backs of the Mexican president -- the invasion by DEA, FBI and other US officials of the City of Juarez, Chihuahua, in the search for "mass narco graves" that never materialized.
Madrazo was not fired for those acts of sedition precisely because the gringos insist that their (attorney? puppet? agent? protected witness?) Madrazo be left in charge.
The early March suicide by Madrazo's oficial mayor Juan Manuel Izábal Villicaña (responsible, among other tasks, for seized drug properties and profits) after he was discovered to have $700,000 US dollars stashed away in a CITIBANK safe deposit box in New York, did not provoke Madrazo's resignation.
Nor the assassination attempt on his anti-drug investigator Cuauhtémoc Herran on March 24th that brought press reports that the PGR official has been known as a drug trafficker by US agents and Madrazo for two years but left to do his dirty work within the AG's office -- precisely, the Cancún investigation; not even gunshot provoked Madrazo's fall.
The only possible force that keeps Madrazo in place is the iron fist of the US State Department, which uses him as first capo to manage the drug trade in Mexico, and to develop the files on current Mexican officials so that a few can be singled out and scapegoated after the July presidential elections, once they are former officials, to prove the US and Mexico's "ongoing commitment" to fighting narco-corruption.
They are also the last major South American states where the US government still enjoys absolute control thanks to brutal dictators Alberto Fujimori of Peru and Hugo Bánzer of Bolivia.
The Bolivian and Peruvian agricultural product is transported to Colombia, where it is refined, packed and sent up the straw to the gringo's nose. (The "neo" economic system -- call it capitalism, neoliberalism, greed or treason -- after all, rewards reproduction over production in legal and illegal industries alike, and that's why US, Colombian and Mexican drug middlemen are wealthy -- and the coca growing peasants remain poor).
April has not been a good month for Washington in these two countries. The DC-propped president of Peru had to resort to electoral fraud in the April 9th election and even the Organization of American States and the US State Department were forced to cry foul. So now it goes to a second vote.
Time will tell if the opposition candidate, Alejandro Toledo, a former World Bank consultant supported by indigenous regions and left-center parties, joins the growing club of Latin American heads-of-state who are weary of US impositions. US officials, according to a press report out of Europe, are playing both sides of the conflict. Whereas the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, has propped up the brutal Fujimori regime for almost a decade, US Ambassador John Hamilton held a secret meeting on Monday, April 10th, with opposition candidate Toledo in Lima (this, after Toledo launched mass mobilizations against electoral fraud in the previous day's elections).
Bolivia meanwhile is swept up in an unprecedented social revolt, allying indigenous farmers, unions, students and the deteriorating middle class.
Peru's Fujimori is at the cliff, Bolivia's Bánzer is teetering nearby, while US policy fails and falls with these two corrupt dictators.
In sum, if Washington loses its iron grip over Peru and Bolivia, it will have little footing over any corner of South America.
Democracy, by its most basic definition, means sovereignty for all nations regarding drug policy.
The sudden widespread rejection by Latin America of US imposition comes because the hypocritical US policy is so obviously in error. Only drastic changes in that policy can re-establish sane US relations here.
That means putting priority of human rights over economic wrongs,
democracies over colonies,
and a pluralistic approach to drugs that allows each nation to democratically determine its laws.
The end of US-imposed narco-dictatorship is the sina qua non -- that without which nothing else can happen -- of the American dream.
Narco News update: US military officials have just signed a deal with the government of El Salvador to use the national airport in the capital of San Salvador as a so-called counter-drug "Forward Operating Base" or FOL, according to the April 13th issue of Inside the Pentagon (click here for full story).
These are some key excerpts from the Inside the Pentagon story:
Under the 1978 Panama Canal Treaties, the United States pulled its last forces from Howard AFB and other facilities in Panama in December. FOLs have been set up in two Dutch Caribbean islands -- Curacao and Aruba -- and in the coastal town of Manta in Ecuador.
The new agreement, signed March 31, will allow the United States to use the new FOL in San Salvador for a 10-year period, a State Department official said this week. The pact is renewable for periods of five years thereafter, if desired by the two nations. That such an agreement was even under negotiation between the United States and El Salvador came as a surprise to many officials in Washington involved in or tracking the U.S. military's counternarcotics mission.
The pact was reached after just two months of low-profile talks between the Salvadoran government and the U.S. State Department, supported by the U.S. Southern Command, sources said.
With the new agreement, El Salvador will become the home of SOUTHCOM's Central American FOL. Previously, SOUTHCOM Commander Gen. Charles Wilhelm had said Costa Rica may offer airfield facilities at Liberia for a Central American FOL, to be run by the U.S. Navy. But speaking "on background," U.S. defense officials consistently told ITP that Costa Rica, which disbanded its Army in 1948, had little serious interest in hosting U.S. forces, even on an expeditionary basis as the FOLs entail.
In fact, Pentagon officials said El Salvador readily agreed to virtually every U.S. demand, such that there were few or no areas of disagreement in the talks."We told them what we wanted and they said yes," according to one Pentagon official.
Narco News commentary: "Low profile talks" is a euphemism for the fact that this development was kept secret from the people of El Salvador, who in March elections handed major defeats to the ruling US puppet regime and gave important victories to the left: specifically, the political party of the former FMLN liberation army, which controls the city of San Salvador and other important regions.
Political observers universally conceed that in next year's elections, the FMLN has a serious chance of winning the presidency. Thus, this signals a panicked move by the right wing ARENA party (descendent of the death squads of the 1980s) to -- using the "drug war" as the excuse -- give US military forces a foot in the door in case democracy needs to be crushed once again.
Democracy, to US officials, is only convenient when political parties they control win. When the democratic will of the people differs, the United States has a long history in El Salvador and throughout Latin America of meddling with arms, money, covert operations and thinly disguised "anti-drug" activity that is more aimed at political opponents than drug dealers.
This development also -- for now -- puts in place an airbase near Colombia from which to launch possible military intervention (see the summaries on Ecuador and Panama above, which also shed light on the geo-political plan by Washington in the region).
But we don't expect them to rebut the reports in Narco News precisely because everything we have written is documented and based on the facts.
Still, we offer the White House an uncensored and unlimited page, absolutely gratis, to answer to any claim we make. After all, the drug czar General Barry McCaffrey and his functionaries have recently launched public ad hominum attacks against two internet journalists who criticized US drug policy. We would hate to feel left out.
They have gone a little batty at the drug czar's bunker. First they attacked journalist Michael Massing for an article in Salon that was critical of the military aid package to Colómbia. They accused him of being a "drug legalizer" when Massing has, in fact, been a real pain in the neck to anti-prohibitionists (see "Beyond Legalization," a special edition of The Nation edited by Massing in 1999).
Then they attacked Salon -- again! -- for running an article by Daniel Forbes that severely embarrassed the drug czar's media campaign and some major national magazines: he exposed that the latters -- from Newsweek to Sports Illustrated -- accepted money from the drug czar's budget in exchange for publishing "favorable" articles about the war on drugs.
MAP offered its own articulate reply to the White House (click here) and Mark Jurkowitz, told the whole story of the corrupting of the US press in the Boston Globe (click here). The Media Awareness Project, like Narco News, doesn't pay anyone a devalued peso for these articles. It's an archive of English-language drug policy stories, much larger than our own Narco News. And if the White House says its wrong, it must be right about something.
And to sweeten our offer to the official Grand Pooh-bas of prohibition, Narco News offers a scoop about which White House official's fingerprints were all over the 1950s-style attack on Salon, on journalist Daniel Forbes and on the Media Awareness Project. For even before he became the drug czar's press secretary almost a decade ago, Bob Weiner had already created an electoral scandal -- when he was a candidate for US Congress in 1988 -- that would have made Joe McCarthy equally proud.
About a week before the 1988 election, far behind Congressman Silvio Conte in the polls, Bob Weiner -- the drug czar's current mouthpiece -- accused the Italian-American Conte of being with the "mafia."
Only Bob Weiner could have been stupid enough to write that letter, signed by the drug czar's right-arm, the czarling Robert Housman. Sources close to the Administration have confirmed the obvious. It had the same script as Bob Weiner's 1988 debacle; if you can't win on the merits, make a lame personal attack. So there's no doubt that this embarrassing ploy by the White House has the smell of a Weiner roasting behind the keypad.
When the White House hired Bob Weiner, it tapped someone who had already demonstrated his penchant for false and personal accusations; a petty little wound-up Joe McCarthy doll to carry on the unholy crusade of the drug war. It was Weiner who fracased the attack on Salon, Dan Forbes and Media Awareness Project. Nobody else at the White House could be so low and dumb at the same time. And if they want to dispute our report, well, Bob Weiner and the drug czar now have the free forum to deny it: click here.
"Educators have a new and exciting tool to energize classroom discussion about substance abuse. The acclaimed Newspaper in Education program of The New York Times now offers an anti-drug education curriculum guide, created for middle-school educators, grades 6, 7, and 8.
"Entitled "Anti-Drug Education With The New York Times," the guide has a wide selection of lesson plans on how to talk about drugs, deal with peer pressure, and more. The materials include engaging news articles and worksheets for students. Lessons also reinforce Campaign objectives, helping young people develop resistance skills, while supporting academic achievement in art, civics, mathematics, language arts, life skills, and behavioral studies.
"Last year, ONDCP sponsored classroom subscriptions with the guide for more than 300 educators, and the Times provided the pro bono match for everything from curriculum guides to promotional activities. The program reached 48,000 students, and the evaluation by participating educators helped refine this year's initiative, which began November 8."
This just in: A suitcase found with Mexican attorney Raquenel Villanueva on March 23rd when she was shot in a gangland-style assassination attempt on her and her client -- federal "anti-drug" investigator Cuauhtémoc Herrera -- contains, according to the attorney, three "confidential" files with explosive information.
Attorney Raquenel Villanueva is quoted in Proceso magazine (click here) as telling a radio station in Monterrey, Mexico, that the documents involve high-level officials in the Mexican attorney general's office and other federal agencies with narco-corruption.
And she said that the assassination attempt on her and her client was orchestrated by important circles of power in Mexico.
Now she's charging that the top prosecutor in Mexico City -- Samuel del Villar of the opposition PRD party, who has jurisdiction over the case and possession of the suitcase -- is using these documents to "blackmail" the federal regime.
Narco News asks: If these documents are so incriminating that they can blackmail top federal officials, was that not the intent of attorney Raquenel Villanueva to do the same on behalf of her client who himself is caught up in a web of narco-accusations?