Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapo for president?

Talk about taking things to extremes. Complaining once again about alleged collusion between the Calderon administration and Chapo's Sinaloa cartel, federal deputy Gerardo Fernandez Noroña proposed a few days ago that Chapo be named the PAN candidate for the 2012 presidency.

Seriously, Sr. Diputado, if you want to be taken seriously, don't make a serious allegation in the form of a joke. You may believe sincerely that the government is protecting Chapo, and yes, by default, the drug war does appear to have come out in his favour. But if it weren't coming out in his favour, then Osiel Cardenas Guillen would be winning – and "protected." Or the Arellano Felix brothers would still be standing and running the show from Tijuana. You know how drug wars work, so as I said before, don't be silly and throw out silly suggestions about a very serious matter if you want to be taken seriously.

The congressman also claims that Anabel Hernandez, the Mexican journalist who has written a book about Chapo, offers up proof that Calderon is directly linked to the drug lord.

This is again a serious accusation, and one Hernandez doesn't actually make. Hernandez, in her book, links a General X with the drug lord (he was allegedly sent to discuss peace terms with Chapo by Los Pinos). She also makes claims that Juan Camilo Mourino was linked to the Beltran Leyvas and Chapo – he was allegedly the man in Los Pinos who sent the general to discuss terms of peace.

This is where grey areas need to be defined a little better, in my mind. (Just like when Proceso misquoted me about claims made by one of my sources in The Last Narco.) First off, I have to say that I don't believe these accusations against Mourino. They reek of "this guy is already dead, so let's let him hang." Mourino, during his term as interior secretary, suffered no end of bashing from the press, who didn't like the fact that he was of Spanish descent. He had also allegedly broken a few rules while serving as undersecretary of energy (under then-energy secretary Calderon). No one ever gave him much of a chance.

Some of the past stuff may be true, but that's neither here nor there. Are we really to believe that he sent a veteran, 65-year-old general to the Sinaloan hills to negotiate a pact? Really, the interior secretary of this administration, and close confidant of the president? I've heard the story before. A few officials were reportedly sent to Durango to talk to Chapo and the Beltran Leyvas in early 2008, when blood was boiling between the two groups and Sinaloa was falling to pieces following the capture of Mochomo and the revenge killing of Edgar Guzman Loera. The version I heard in Sinaloa was that it was low-level local officials and a few state officials – no one in a federal capacity. There might have been military there, but everyone I talked to thought that unlikely. No mention of generals – and in Sinaloa, when a general does something, people tend to talk about it.

There is also talk in Mexico that this same general met with the leaders of La Familia and Los Zetas during Mourino's tenure. Rumour even has it that Defense Secretary Guillermo Galvan Galvan knew of these supposed meetings.

Rumoured, alleged, denied, lacking proof and so on. Secretos a voces may hold a lot of weight in the streets of Mexico, but they don't with me. I need to see the proof before I start accusing an administration of actively seeking out a pact or explicit deal. I don't want to be naive about this – I know this has happened in the past in Mexico, and few are above negotiating with the drug cartels – but I also would like to believe the Calderon administration is innocent until proven guilty.

And are we really to believe that in the midst of a major, bloody drug war, all the leaders of the major drug cartels would meet with a general? I think they're smarter than that, and that they know a potential trap when they see one.

Here's what I do know. The name of the general allegedly in question is Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro. On August 30, 2000, he was apprehended for alleged links to Carrillo Fuentes and the Juarez cartel and shuttled off to military prison in the Campo Militar No. 1. For seven years, he remained there. On June 30, 2007, all charges were dropped. On April 23, 2008 – a couple of months after the alleged meeting in Durango or Sinaloa or wherever is supposedly took place – he retired, receiving full military honours in an official ceremony.

Then again, that's what any general who has been cleared of all charges would get upon retirement, isn't it?

Incidentally, the ceremony honoring Gen Acosta Chaparro took place in the same Campo Militar where he was imprisoned for 7 years. And alongside him was one Gen. Rolando Eugenio Hidalgo Eddy, the many who during the Fox administration did valiantly try to hunt down Chapo in Sinaloa. He, too, had been accused of being in the pockets of the Juarez cartel at one point. No official charges were ever filed.


  1. Mouriño was attacked in the press for being of "Spanish descent" but for claiming Spanish citizenship. That, and steering PEMEX contracts to his (Spanish) family's firm. That's more than "breaking a few rules" and xenophobia... there were serious constitutional questions at issue although whether the Sec. de Gobernacíon is held to the same qualifications as the President is an open question) as well as very credible evidence of fraud and influence peddling.

    If General Acosta Chaparro was or wasn't guilty, it's not unheard of for governments to cover up their errors and let high ranking military officers gracefully retire.

    You have to remember that the Sinaloa Cartel is probably the only criminal organization that really is a "cartel" -- a group of similar businesses that collude and cooperate to fix prices and labor conditions (and prevent competition). It very much looks as if governmental strikes against the "Sinaloa Cartel" are not against Chapo, but against smaller organizations within the Sinaloa Cartel that are seeking to operate outside the Cartel's agreed upon policies.

    And, thus, the chismes.

    I don't think any of the AF brothers are in any po

  2. agree with you on Mourino (but i'm still trying to give a dead man a little leeway) but don't agree on Sinaloa cartel strikes. Some very high up people have been caught or killed, but everyone chooses to ignore that because it suits their argument.
    Nacho Coronel was operating outside the "agreed upon policies"? La Barbie? The Beltran Leyva brothers? The various lieutenants caught/killed? I know there are plenty of chismes, but I don't think they're actually right in this instance.

  3. Fuera de tema, pero...
    Malcom, cual es tu opinion sobre lo siguiente:
    Legalizar la produccion y venta de drogas en Mexico, pero mantener prohibido su consumo en exceso a lo personal?
    No crees que seria algo como la produccion y venta de armas en EUA, pero se tiene prohibido su consumo si no es para uso personal...
    Estoy empezando a entender que deberiamos como mexicanos ver por nuestros intereses y no por los de los extranjeros... empiezo a creer que la solucion es legalizar la produccion y venta de droga para consumo personal y la venta para la exportacion a mercados donde se consuma, de esta forma la violencia se generaria en las fronteras de Mexico y en otros paises, pero podriamos vivir en paz en Mexico...