By Chris Covert
The new commander of the Mexican 42nd Military Zone said last week that the Mexican Army will permanently be deployed to the sierras to fight drug trafficking and cultivation, according to Mexican news accounts.
According to a news account which appeared last week in Norte Digital news website, General de Brigada Ricardo Diaz Palacio attended a drug incinerating ceremony in Cuauhtemoc municipality, attended also by Chihuahua state governor Cesar Duarte Jaquez.
According to reports, General Diaz Palacio took over command of the Mexican 42nd Military Zone July 1st, which is a normal date for command shuffling in the Mexican Army, after having been commander of the 29th Military Zone in Minatitlan, Veracruz in 2011 just before he received his second star, thru 2012. He had been intelligence chief in the Matamoros army garrison in Tamaulipas before being assigned to the 29th Military Zone As a Brigadier General he was also chief of operations for the Mexican Army general staff in 2008.
General Diaz Palacio takes over command of the 42nd Military from General General Miguel Andrade Cisneros, who was appointed as commander last December.
The July 1st date in this context means that new appointments to military regions and zones are the first under the new Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), so actions taken by the army after this date will could set the tone for the army for the rest of the term of newly inaugurated president Enrique Pena.
General Diaz Palacio's remarks about a permanent army deployment mirror remarks made by other army commanders, including the statement that the Mexican Army "works alone" and in coordination with state and local security forces. The remarks about permanent army deployments seem to reverse a campaign promise made by President Pena about the military being sent to the barracks as a measure to reduce violence.
Indeed in remarks he made while he was in Mexico City on SEDENA's general staff in 2008, he discounted the charge long made by the Mexican left that the presence of the army in a region increases violence in the region
Violence in southern Chihuahua state, part of Mexico's Triangulo Dorada or Golden Triangle has seen a sharp increase since the end of spring. One of the worst problems in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality has been that of criminal groups forming road blocks, especially between Guadalupe y Calvo municipal seat and Parral de Hidalgo. At least two ambushes involving armed criminals against civilians have taken place in just the last 45 days along that stretch of road.
According to a news account which appeared last week in El Diario de Juarez, at least four roadblocks have been reported by armed groups on the road between the two municipalities, specifically near Mesa de San Rafael, despite an increase in the numbers of federal security forces in the region. Criminal groups at those blocks are allowing only the elderly, women and children through, which indicates those groups may be using the roadblock for recruiting purposes for men.
The fear of roadblocks in the area is so acute, according to a separate news account which appeared in El Diario de Juarez, an air service had been established between the two points for passengers only. Also bus drivers are refusing to take on any male passengers because of recruiting efforts in the region.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com He can be reached at email@example.com