Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cop show spawns real drama in Mexico



Was 'The Team' just another crime series or was it a propaganda tool for President Felipe Calderon's drug war?"The Team" aired for three short weeks and never scored high ratings.


It proved one thing, though. Amid sharpening divisions over Mexico's drug war, even a mediocre cop drama can be fuel on the fire.

The TV series debuted on the private Televisa network in early May and ended Friday, capping 15 prime-time episodes. But the controversy around it may outlast the reruns.

Was the series, featuring a coed team of elite (and muy attractive!) federal officers on the trail of drug traffickers, just an ordinary crime drama? Or was it (cue sinister organ music) an attempt by the government of President Felipe Calderon to secretly win support for his drug war?

The real drama may be just underway, as leftist lawmakers press for an investigation into whether the administration helped bankroll the show to glorify federal police.

"It's not just a television series," said Leticia Quezada, a congresswoman from the Democratic Revolution Party who filed a complaint asking whether the Calderon government invested public funds.

The dust-up is evidence of an intensifying battle to win Mexicans' hearts and minds as Calderon pursues a long and controversial drug war. A centerpiece of that drive is cleaning up and modernizing the federal police, with 35,000 officers.

Radio spots by the government regularly trumpet captures of drug capos. Police parade suspects as trophies before news cameras.

Recently, a Calderon spokesman, Alejandro Poire, launched a blog to explain the anticrime strategy to wary Mexicans. (This week's installment: 10 "myths" about the strategy, including, No. 1 on the list, that there is no strategy.) And the president has compared himself to Winston Churchill to argue that yielding is no option.

On the opposite side of the fence, protesters smear themselves with fake blood and blame Calderon — and not the murderous drug gangs — for the nearly 40,000 drug-related deaths since he took office in late 2006.

Mexicans seem conflicted: They tend to favor cracking down on the drug cartels, but aren't optimistic about winning.

On the face of it, "El Equipo," or "The Team," was harmless enough. A four-member squad of federal cops — three men and a woman — chased bad guys using high-tech gizmos and wiles honed through a demanding new training regimen for Mexican cops.

Scenes showed real-life helicopters and secret, state-of-the-art federal police installations in Mexico City. There were shootouts, episode-ending arrests and, naturally, romantic subplots.

So what if scripts carried little more surprise than your average installment of "Scooby-Doo"? Here at last was a flattering look at the work of Mexican police, who in real life can use an image boost.

But that's where things got sticky.

Calderon's foes were sure they smelled a rat when the show launched May 9 — a night after a march in Mexico City by tens of thousands of people decrying the death toll.

Critics saw the show as the equivalent of an infomercial for Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who oversees the federal police and is a favored target of Calderon foes. The left-leaning Proceso magazine, citing sources it did not reveal, reported that Garcia Luna's agency had invested more than $12 million in the program.

"They're trying to clean up the image of the police … because they haven't done a good job," Quezada said. She asked the federal comptroller's office to find out whether public resources were used. While federal and state agencies in Mexico frequently buy television spots to tout supposed accomplishments, it would be highly unusual to spend public funds on a dramatic series.

A spokeswoman for the federal police declined to comment, citing the complaint.

The show's producer, Pedro Torres, said Mexicans' frustration over safety is born of many years of official corruption and mistrust toward law enforcement. But he said federal police deserved praise for making improvements.

In an interview, Torres scoffed at the idea of "The Team" as propaganda. "The intention was to make a police drama," he said. He referred questions about federal funding to Televisa, which did not respond to inquiries.

Torres said his production team began discussing the idea three years ago. Plans to air the show were in place long before the May 8 march, he said.

It doesn't take much to convince conspiracy-minded Mexicans of alleged government plots. The drug war has offered whispers aplenty of hidden hands at work: arrests that may have been staged, accidents that may not have been accidents, dead crime bosses who may, in fact, not be dead.

It's hard to say whether Mexican cops got any public-relations lift from "The Team." If not, they can take heart from a new holiday.

Calderon declared Thursday as Mexico's first-ever "Federal Police Day."

14 comments:

  1. The overt use of television propaganda shows is pure Hollywood, and reminds us of the use of 'Jack Bauer' and the long running FOX series '24' Rupert Murdoch used in the US to promote the idea that torture by USA 'National Security' soldiers/ top cops was swell stuff.

    'Was the series, featuring a coed team of elite (and muy attractive!) federal officers on the trail of drug traffickers, just an ordinary crime drama? Or was it (cue sinister organ music) an attempt by the government of President Felipe Calderon to secretly win support for his drug war?'

    Yep. Same style shit... Good going, FeCal! You got your ass caught with this shit of yours.

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  2. Ardent, dude, really, I mean I can only read so many of your posts and think that you have some intelligence, but you just keep repeating the same ole Anti-government rhetoric as the Right that you so oppose. I can`t figure out if your a Right-wing nut or a Left-wing nut? you make no sense in your posts. You hate the Right, you hate the Left, you hate yourself, that one`s obvious. I used to enjoy your wit and competitive bantering, but you`ve just gone over the cliff here lately, and their is no coming back. A serious person can listen and learn from other`s view`s. you, on the other hand, cannot seem to comprehend that the world doesn`t revolve around , nor does it care about a guy hiding in the USA, ragging on it, while doing the same about Mexico, while he`s nestled away in the saftey of his supposed "adopted" country.

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  3. Jesus. Are you serious? You know there are a lot of us that support the war on drugs.

    You don't hear about the lastest war movie here in the U.S. being propaganda for the govt. And what about all the narco films. No one is saying that those are El Cheapos. I mean Chapos propaganda tools.

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  4. Miami Vice ring a bell?

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  5. Anonymous 8:05 am, when you respond to somebody's comments, as you have done to mine, if you specify what it is that you disagree with instead of just calling the person names and dissing the fact that they bothered saying something you didn't like, it will make the difference between you just flaming the person and/or whether you actually are saying something rational in a discussion.

    Do you actually disagree with me comparing this Mexican show to many Hollywood made puff shows used for selling more US militarism and more having a permanent excess of cops everywhere in our American society? I mean this stuff goes back to John Wayne's movies and the Gomer Pyle Show. Is me saying such that so really very odd in your book?

    (Over and out from my safe hiding spot in the US, Dude....lol... You personal flamers are so utterly silly! I bet you wrote from a fox hole??? What? You didn't?!!!)

    'A serious person can listen and learn from other`s view`s. you, on the other hand, cannot seem to comprehend that the world doesn`t revolve around , nor does it care about a guy hiding in the USA, ragging on it, while doing the same about Mexico, while he`s nestled away in the saftey of his supposed "adopted" country.'

    Did Calderon invest Mexican public tax payer monies to make a propaganda show? Do you even care, Anonymous?

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  6. This is approaching tinfoil-hat realms of ridiculousness. Mexico is so effed up that a positive portrayal of the feds is seen as evidence of propaganda. And who can blame them, with education non-existent, poverty at an all time high, and the class divide getting bigger and bigger it's a no brainer that the conspiracy nuts will gain traction and that they might be right. I would ask who's paying the folks making the accusations, is it drug money?

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  7. Texcoco Mex said.

    Ardent I think you are O.K. There is not nothing wrong with expressing your opinion.

    Jorge W Bush mislead people with his opinions and a lot of people cheer him up for it.

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  8. Ardent. You use the word "flame" alot. Is their something behind that ? And it's ok if John Wayne made some movies, it's called acting. Rationale people don't let it build fear mongering about war and police. They just sit back and be entertained in this "what the shit does it matter when your dead and gone anyway"? World we live in.

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  9. This show is being advertised in the US now, coming soon to Univision.

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  10. Mexico Fed needs an effective propaganda machine,the rank and file citizen needs to be enlisted into a struggle to bring Mexico up to a minimum level of Performance,All Mexicans would benefit if there were Morals,Ethics etc. SUPPORT REFORM

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  11. Si el programa era una basura!,

    Y si, estan tratando de limpar el mugrero de Calderon

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  12. This is hilarious but Ardent is right. This is just like in the US, 24 pushed torture but in general the media is supposedly controlled by 'liberals' and 'leftist'

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  13. Leftist idealogues of any persuasion will naturally label this tv series as political propaganda because they can't look past their conspiracy theory mindset to see that--oops!--some capitalist television writers and producers wanted to make some money by writing a story like all the tv shows we have here in the US!

    In Mexico it just seems a little more REAL. Doesn't make it a propaganda tool of the gov't. What if someone wanted to make a show that glorified the cartels? Whose propaganda would that be?

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  14. Answer- It would be cartel propaganda, and most especially if cartel money and threats pushed for it, Lyle.

    'In Mexico it just seems a little more REAL. Doesn't make it a propaganda tool of the gov't. What if someone wanted to make a show that glorified the cartels? Whose propaganda would that be?'

    So instead of that, we have the US government and Calderon pushing for more 'war'. Oh, I'm sorry, that must be a 'conspiracy theory' according to you! Just Paranoid Lefty delusions....

    And the PRD, being Lefties in Mexico, according to you are going to be conspiracy theorists when they say that they want an investigation to see if the Calderon government invested public funds to create this 'show'? How dare they suggest such an unlikely thing? ...NOT.

    That would be like thinking that maybe international Right Winger Rupert Murdoch invested money to have us all in the US watching the FOX series "24' which tried to excuse the use of US government torture on POWs held by the Pentagon. Of course, we know that the US government does no such things, and to suggest otherwise is just to be a Lefty 'conspiracy theorist', according to the noted Professor Layla. You too funny for words, Laylito.

    It seems that the Right Wing are the folk always with paranoid behavior regarding Leftists, liberals, and anybody to the right of Adolph. We are all now being paid with cartel money! ...lol...

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