Friday, December 29, 2006

New Mexican President Uses Troops In Drug War - Is This A New Front In The War On Terror?

This seems like good news. Felipe Calderon is using the Mexican Army and Navy to help police raid farms and arrest dealers:

Calderon's strategy contrasts with that of his predecessor, Vicente Fox, who used an elite federal police unit to target the drug trade's kingpins. Flows of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. continued largely unabated and violence among cartels soared during Fox's six-year term, which ended Dec. 1.

On Dec. 11, Calderon sent about 7,000 troops to his home state of Michoacan, where they destroyed about 238 hectares (588 acres) of marijuana, made more than 60 arrests and searched thousands of vehicles. The new president has assigned another 10,000 soldiers to help the federal police fight drug gangs and other criminals.

``Calderon is clearly trying to differentiate himself from the Fox administration, which was afraid of using force,'' said Riordan Roett, head of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. ``You can't break the back of the drug dealers, but you can deal a decisive blow that halts their expansion.''

But, I have to wonder if this is all about drugs for Calderon. Could it be that he is battling Al Qaeda?
Fox's strategy of targeting cartel leaders spawned ferocious turf wars between gangs, says George Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

``The strategy had the unintended consequence of encouraging rival cartels to take over the turf of the deposed leader,'' Grayson said. Last April, the severed heads of two police officers were left outside government offices in Acapulco with a note reading, ``So they learn some respect.''

In September, gunmen dumped five heads on the dance floor of a bar in Michoacan with a message that read: ``The family does not kill for money. Everyone should know this is divine justice.''

Police later arrested three Guatemalans, whom they suspected of being hit men for a Mexican cartel, in connection with the Michoacan killings.
If, as I suspect, this is evidence that Al Qaeda has migrated northwards from their perch in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, then it makes perfect sense that Calderon would choose to use the military. However, the question must be asked, why does he not explain his reasons to the media? What is going on here?

Reliapundit adds: I think this is just about trying to establish Mexico as a nation of laws. Until they get control of the drug smuggling and then the human smuggling - and the rebellion in Oaxaca - not much else good can happen. Calderon has come out fighting on all fronts. I wish him well. (If he confronts al Qaeda along the way, I feel he will deal with them effectively.) I also think that it's interesting to wonder if the Leftists who opposed Calderon would have done this. I think not. They'd excuse the drug trade as economically necessary and due to the DEMAND in the USA.

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