US RELEASES $90 MILLION IN PLAN MEXICO MILITARY HARDWARE
By Kristin Bricker
Sources within the US Congress have confirmed to Narco News that the US government has released approximately USD$90 million of the $116.5 million in foreign military financing (FMF) under Plan Mexico, also known as the Merida Initiative or Plan Merida. The $90 million comprises approximately 77% of Mexico's total FMF allotment under Plan Mexico in 2008.
The US Congress authorized the release of up to 85%, or $99 million, of 2008 FMF funds pending a report from the Secretary of State on Mexico's compliance with the human rights conditions laid out in Plan Mexico. However, congressional sources state that Mexico has not yet met the human rights conditions, so the State Department has not submitted the report.
The human rights conditions are minimal--they requite the establishment of a commission to receive complaints about police conduct, that the Mexican government regularly meet with Mexican human rights organizations so that they can "make recommendations concerning the implementation of" Plan Mexico (thereby excluding from the consultations any NGOs that oppose the military aid package), that civilian prosecutors and judges investigate and prosecute federal police and military forces who are accused of committing human rights abuses, and that evidence obtained through torture not be used in court.
This last point will be particularly difficult for the Secretary of State to certify given that the Mexican weekly Proceso revealed this month that the three suspects arrested by the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) in the Morelia, Michoacan, "narcoterrorist" grenade attack case were tortured by a drug cartel or Mexican security forces into saying they were members of the Los Zetas criminal organization and that they threw the grenades that killed eight people on Mexico's Independence Day. Official memos leaked to Proceso from an unidentified intelligence agency confirm that security authorities in Michoacan met with representatives from the La Familia drug cartel prior to the arrests "agreeing that they would detain various people" and accuse them of carrying out the Morelia attack. One theory that competes with the official hypothesis that Los Zetas carried out the Morelia attack is that La Familia carried out the attack in order to provoke a military crackdown on Los Zetas, who have been running contraband through La Familia's turf.
The Defense Department's Security Cooperation Agency, which administers the FMF program, defines Foreign Military Financing as "the U.S. government program for financing through grants or loans the acquisition of U.S. military articles, services, and training."
At this time it is unknown what military hardware the $90 million purchased and what hardware is still pending the release of the human rights report. However, the Plan Mexico spending plan, which Narco News published in September, outlines how the 2008 FMF will be spent.
According to the spending plan, FMF funding will provide up to two CASA 235 aircraft. The spending plan states: "In addition to up to two aircraft, the package provided will include logistics support (primarily spare parts and limited technical support) for three years. Funding will also support transition training (training for experienced pilots to fly a new type of aircraft) for Mexican pilots." CASA 235 planes have the ability to use night vision equipment, two computers to transmit and receive information from a military base or control center, and room for 57 soldiers with all of their equipment or 48 parachutists. CASA 235s can also carry six anti-ship missiles and two MK46 torpedoes or Exocet M-39 anti-ship missiles.
Mexico will also receive up to five BH-412 EP (Bell Helicopter) medium-lift utility helicopters along with a logistics support package for two years for new aircraft and possibly four Mexico-owned helicopters already in service. This includes training for pilots. BH-412s are designed to rapidly deploy military forces, which, according to the spending plan, will "establish security needed for successful interdiction of arms, drugs, and persons." BH-412s carry 1-2 crewmembers and 13-14 soldiers and are equipped for day and night flight.
FMF funding will also refurbish and completely equip two Cessna Citation II C-550 surveillance aircraft for the Mexican Office of the Attorney General (PGR). Cessna Citations have radar and cameras. They can be outfitted with weapons and often are when they're used in the war on drugs. In 2001, Cessna Citations provided by the US government and piloted by Peruvian pilots under the direction of CIA agents killed a US missionary and her baby in Peru when they were mistaken for drug traffickers.
Plan Mexico will provide an undetermined number of ion scanners "to support the efforts of the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) and Mexican Army/Air Force (SEDENA) to control their national territory and the southern approach to the United States." The ion scanners come with a standard maintenance package. The spending plan notes that they're "capable of detecting both explosives and narcotics" and will be "used by SEDENA to help detect illicit drug and arms trafficking through remote areas of Mexico and will support the GOM's [government of Mexico's] effort to mount a robust interdiction system via land routes." Ion scanners analyze the size of molecules to test for the presence of drugs. They are meant to provide a preliminary assessment: a positive test result does not confirm the presence of drugs, but should trigger a more thorough inspection. Ion scanners are known to produce more false positives than true positives and are widely abused by prison authorities in the US to harass prison visitors by denying them access.
This is the first year in recent memory that Mexico will receive FMF funds from the United States. Up until now, Mexico was cut off from receiving US military assistance because it is a party to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). Under US law, countries who are parties to the Rome Statute can only receive US military aid if they enter into an Article 98 agreement in which they promise to not prosecute US citizens in the ICC. Mexico has not entered into an Article 98 agreement, but the law banning parties to the Rome Statute contains a loophole: the president can waive the law, allowing the country to receive FMF, if he deems it to be in the US' "national interest."
According to the spending plan, Mexico will also receive armored vehicles, bulletproof vests, and related "technical assistance" provided under Plan Mexico's anti-narcotics section. These funds, however, are pending the signing of a letter of agreement between the US and Mexican governments. The letter of agreement outlines how the Plan Mexico training and equipment will be transferred. El Financiero reports that Condoleezza Rice's Mexican counterpart, Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, believes the letter of agreement will be finalized and signed this week.
Source: http://narcosphere.narconews.com/users/kristin-bricker: 11/19
CHIAPAS: PLANS TO DRILL FOR OIL
Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel announced plans this week to begin drilling for oil in the Lacandon rainforest. Citing a study conducted by Pemex, Kessel estimated by 2021 Chiapas fields could be producing 500,000 barrels a day from 17,000 new wells. Kessel also announced the construction of a bio-energy plant to produce biodiesel from the jatrofa curcus, a hardy plant that can be grown in marginal soils. Experts predict the facility will require at least 7,500 acres of mono-culture production. The plant uses technology developed in Colombia and is financed by at least US$800,000 in federal and state funds. Two previously funded bio-energy plants in Cintalapa and Huehuetan consumed about US$500,000 in state investment, but both plants are now abandoned, due in part to the lack of a market for the relatively expensive bio-diesel. Some communities participating in the federal ProArbol (Pro-Tree) program are reportedly receiving seeds to plant jatrofa curcus instead of trees.
Kessel's announcement is part of an ambitious resurgence of Plan Puebla Panama, now renamed the Mesoamerica Project, that contemplates four regional development engines: tourism, minerals, oil and bio-energy. Plans include construction of a controversial highway linking San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque. Canadian mining companies have been particularly active in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas region. The plans are generating substantial community-based opposition from indigenous communities and environmentalists
Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 11/24-30
GUATEMALAN MIGRANTS CAUGHT WEARING MEXICAN ARMY UNIFORMS
Authorities here arrested four illegal Guatemalan immigrants who were wearing Mexican army uniforms and heading for the United States, and they were being guided by a suspected member of an elite unit of Mexico's armed forces. The INM immigration agency said the arrests were made at a checkpoint in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the southern state of Chiapas. The migrants, who were given away by their Guatemalan accents, face charges for illegally using official Mexican army uniforms and insignias, INM said. The migrants' guide, identified as Juan Carlos Ramirez, said he was from Veracruz state.
Officials said they were trying to confirm if the suspect really belonged to the Mexican army's EMP presidential bodyguard and planned to charge him with people trafficking. The Guatemalans - three men and a woman - told authorities that their families paid an unspecified sum to have them smuggled to Mexico City and from there to Los Angeles, the INM said.
Source: EFE News Service: 11/25
SENATE LETS TERMINALLY ILL REFUSE TREATMENT
The Mexican Senate voted on Tuesday to allow terminally ill patients to refuse further treatment so they can die of their own choosing, in a new blow to the Catholic Church. Senators passed changes to an existing law that enable patients suffering incurable diseases and a life expectancy of under six months to sign a document before witnesses suspending treatment if medicines cannot provide a cure. The move was supported by the ruling conservative National Action Party, but will likely receive a strong opposition from Church leaders. In December of 2007, Mexico City's leftist-dominated Congress passed a similar law. Mexico is the world's second-largest Roman Catholic nation and the Church has opposed similar right-to-die legislation. Mexico City has become a vanguard of liberalism in Latin America by backing gay civil unions and the legalization of abortion last year.
Source: Reuters: 11/25
FEMICIDE UPDATE: PAIN AND PROTEST ON THE DAY OF THE BUTTERFLIES
A 1995 novel by writer Julia Alvarez retold the story of the three Mirabal sisters brutally assassinated by the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Decades later, the date of the murders, November 25, was declared the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the United Nations.
In Mexico, more than 200 women's and human rights activists kicked off a cross-country caravan in Ciudad Juarez to protest against femicide and ongoing violence in all its forms against women. Initiating their action at the monument to murdered women situated at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge on the Mexico-US border, the women's activists embarked on a weeklong journey to the state of Chiapas on Mexico's southern border. Along the route, caravan participants plan to meet with the widows of the Pasta de Concho miners killed in 2006, as well as survivors of violent government crackdowns in San Salvador Atenco and Oaxaca the same year. A meeting was also scheduled with Chihuahua Governor Jose Reyes Baeza.
For many, beginning the caravan in Ciudad Juarez, the site of more than 600 women's murders since 1993, held both symbolic and urgent meaning. Dr. Julia Monarrez Fragoso, a researcher with Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Ciudad Juarez, said the rape-murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez has become one element of a violent social storm that is now claiming the lives of large numbers of men. Spawned by organized crime and weak government, massive violence has rendered civil society "scared, terrorized" and in need of truth and justice, said the women's rights advocate.
"The number (of victims) is alarming and we shouldn't say it's just a war between narcos," Dr. Monarrez said, "because in the final analysis, they are human beings and there should be a State that rules a city and takes care of the safety of its inhabitants. That's why there are laws."
On November 25, nearly twenty people, mostly men, were reported murdered in Ciudad Juarez. The incidents included the apparent firing-squad style execution of 7 men whose bodies were found outside a high school, and the slaying of a man and his son in front of hundreds of middle school students. Local press accounts report the murders of more than 1,400 people in Ciudad Juarez so far this year.
Even as activists prepared to launch the Chihuahua-Chiapas caravan, the number of female homicide victims kept mounting in Ciudad Juarez and other parts of the state of Chihuahua. For instance, in a period of less than 24 hours November 20-21, five women were killed in Ciudad Juarez in gangland-style slayings. Two other victims of violent death were recently discovered outside Chihuahua City and near the north-central city of Cuauhtemoc, respectively. In the first incident, an unidentified woman was found dead on a highway where the bodies of previous femicide victims have been recovered, and in the second case, 14-year-old Gabriela Ivonne Valdiviezo Majalca was found naked with her throat slashed on November 23. Valdiviezo had last been seen alive at a dance party attended by her parents and others.
In Ciudad Juarez, approximately 700 women have been murdered since 1993, the first year large-scale killings of women came to public light. Dozens of other women and young girls remain disappeared. Two adolescents, 14-year-old Iveth Rocio Hernandez Cuellar and 17-year-old Hortensia Areli Rojas Romo, are the latest publicly-known cases. Both teenagers were reported missing from the same Ciudad Juarez neighborhood on November 18.
Meanwhile, a new report by a Mexican network of non-governmental activists dedicated to monitoring official responses to violence against women, documented the killings of 1014 women in 13 Mexican states from January 2007 to July 2008. With 206 slain women, Chihuahua was ranked second in the overall number of women slain, behind the much more populous state of Mexico. According to the study by the OCNF network, 8,100 women were murdered in Mexico from the end of 2000 to the mid-summer of 2008.
On the broader issue of gender and domestic violence, the official Chihuahua Women's Institute reported attending 3,353 people who sought professional help to escape violent situations between the months of January and August of this year. Among the solicitants were 103 men.
In a statement prepared for the November 25 commemoration, Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan credited the UN Security Council as well as national governments for according increased recognition to the problem of violence against women since the international human rights group launched a global campaign around the issue in 2003-2004. The Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City femicides were an early part of Amnesty's campaign. Still, gender violence in Mexico and many other parts of the globe is "endemic," Khan contended, with issues of war, economics and social development all mixed into the package.
"Recent research in Afghanistan, Armenia, Canada, Cote D'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jamaica, Haiti, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Venezuela, and the USA has shown that this violence is not only a human rights violation but also a key factor in obstructing the realization of women's and girl's rights to security, adequate housing, health, food, education and participation. Millions of women find themselves locked in cycles of poverty and violence, cycles which fuel and perpetuate one another."
In a November 25 communique, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the systematic violence against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but noted "violence continues being a huge problem suffered by thousands of women in the whole world." The UN official urged governments to put into practice international resolutions on gender equality that were adopted at the 1995 Beijing Conference and by the 1979 Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 11/25; Lapolaka.com; 11/25; El Heraldo de Chihuahua: 11/25; Commondreams.org: 11/25; La Jornada,: 11/25; Cimacnoticias.com: 11/24
The above articles were originally published and copyrighted by the listed sources. These articles are offered for educational purposes which CIS maintains is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS). CIS is a Washington, D.C. based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. CIS is actively supporting the struggles of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico while simultaneously combating related structures of oppression within our own communities.
To view newsletter archives, visit: http://lists.mutualaid.org/pipermail/mexico-week/
martes, diciembre 02, 2008
US RELEASES $90 MILLION IN PLAN MEXICO MILITARY HARDWARE