Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, April 1, 2011

UN wants Mexico To Withdraw Army From War Against Drug Cartels

A United Nations report calls on the Mexican government to consider withdrawing the military from the streets amid a spike in human rights complaints.
By Nacha Cattan,
CSM Correspondent

Marking one of the strongest statements yet against Mexican President Felipe Calderón's heavy-handed tactics in fighting the drug war, a United Nations report has called on the government to consider withdrawing the military from the streets.

The recommendation follows a spike in abuse claims since the Army was first deployed four years ago to fight drug traffickers, said the preliminary report by a UN human rights office working group. The group said the military and other government forces have become involved in an increasing number of disappearance cases that can no longer only be attributed to organized crime.

“The military is not trained to do public security tasks but to confront armed forces,” which explains the growing number of violations, said Ariel Dulitzky, a member of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

Human rights groups have been raising alarms for years about the Army's role in the drug war, reporting a rising number of cases of rape, torture, disappearance, and arbitrary shooting. But the UN's call for Mexican troops to return to their barracks begs the question of whether police are prepared to take on the powerful cartels and whether Mexico is doing enough to equip them for that task.

“Withdrawing the Army at this point will not resolve all of the human rights problems,” says Jorge Chabat, a national security expert in Mexico City. “It may be a desirable solution, but it isn’t viable,” he says, recommending stronger oversight, prosecution of abuses, and use-of-force protocols for the Army.

Debate over pulling back Army
Abuse claims against the National Defense Ministry hit about 1,500 last year, up from fewer than 200 claims in 2006, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.

Because troops are tried in military courts instead of civil courts for rights abuses, most cases go unpunished, the UN and other groups say. While President Calderón has sent a proposal to Congress that would try cases of torture, rape, and disappearance in civic courts, watchdogs say it is too limited because the Army can easily avoid civil trials by reclassifying torture crimes as abuse while extrajudicial killings at checkpoints are not on the list.

Despite these frustrations, the semi-autonomous commission and most rights groups stop short of calling for the removal of the Army, which still enjoys relative popularity even though polls show Mexico is losing faith in the drug war. Instead, NGOs pressure President Calderón to stick to a longer-term exit strategy.

Pulling back troops “is not something you can do from one day to the next, but what we haven’t seen is a well-thought-out strategy of how the government plans to withdraw the Army from drug operations,” says Maureen Meyer, a Mexico analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America. The border city of Ciudad Juárez is one of the only places the Army has been replaced by federal police, she adds.

Mexican groups like the Human Rights Montaña Tlachinollan Center in an indigenous region of Guerrero applauded the UN statement. It remains to be seen if the UN's call for Army withdrawal will be echoed by other international organizations.

Shoot first. Ask later.
The UN report also cites human rights commission data showing that 11,333 Central and South American migrants passing through Mexico were kidnapped between April and September 2010 – and 8.9 percent of the kidnappings involved federal, state, and municipal police, and officials with the National Immigration Institute.

The massacre of 72 migrants in Mexico last August sparked an outcry from Central American countries that said the country was turning a blind eye to criminal rings. Several countries have since signed agreements with Mexico to coordinate protection of migrants. The UN human rights chief urged Mexico in January to investigate the disappearance of 40 other Central Americans.

The UN report says that charges against soldiers range from torturing detainees to engaging in enforced disappearances before handing suspects over to civic authorities. Media reports have testified to this, with a former Army general who headed security in the violent northern city of Torreon recently admitting to shooting first and investigating later.

“Why interrogate them?” the general said in a March interview with local newspaper La Jornada. “The Army has security and intelligence, it doesn’t need information.”

'Living a nightmare'
The Calderón administration says it is doing all it can to protect human rights while it battles ruthless traffickers, whose confrontations have led to 35,500 killings since 2006.

A joint statement Thursday by the Foreign and Interior Ministries said that the Army has accepted all recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission and that the government has set up a registry of missing persons. But, the statement adds, Mexico is “obligated” to use armed forces as temporary and complementary tools in specific regions due to the violence.

For some, these steps have come too late. Rosario Villanueva Rocha’s son disappeared after being arrested in 2009 in Coahuila. At least five municipal police have since confessed to robbing him and then handing him over to the feared Zetas gang. The officers said the Zetas killed him and three companions, according to Ms. Villanueva Rocha.

Nevertheless, she has not given up hope of finding her son alive.

“I took a step into hell, and I’m living the worst nightmare I could imagine,” she says. “My son has been hurt by authorities we are supposed to trust.”


  1. fu***** UN. Why don't they ask the cartels to respect human rights?

  2. The U N is nuts. The article talks about local and State police atrocitys, the Military is just about all Mexico has,imperfect as it is. Where do these people come from(U N) ?? They are so G D HEALPFUL !!

  3. Yeah, a bunch of leftist liberal old people out of touch with the reality. The police in Mex are 100% impotent and mostly corrupt and ill equiped to combat the cartels. This is so frustrating to read and sickening. Human rights groups aka people without jobs running around the world defending criminals and other filth in society when nations try to deal with the filth.
    Why are the human rights groups not protesting the human rights abuses of the cartels??

    Easy for a bunch of idiots in suits to say something like this while they take their 3 hour lunches at 5 star restaurants in NYC drinking fine wine spewing ignorant shit.
    The military while not perfect are the only ones near capable of taking on the cartels. I mean how freaking stupid!!!!!!

  4. “The military is not trained to do public security tasks but to confront armed forces,” which explains the growing number of violations, said Ariel Dulitzky

    Duh, that's what the cartels are - armed forces, complete with grenades and fully automatic weapons.

  5. Truth of the matter is this issue isn't being supported the way it should since the United States or other countries don't have any special interest in Mexico (oil) and because they're Mexicans. It's like when the genocide was going on in Africa during the peak of the black diamond mines, was it maybe because they were black?

  6. Civil rights? In Mexico? When were they ever observed by the government for the protection of anyone other than themselves? Granted the Mexican army is doing a disservice to some, but so were (are) the the police, and moreover the Cartels. Obviously, civil rights groups do not consider this a war, or there would be no question about the use of armed forces.Oh what a horrible mess.

  7. The United Nations is one of the most corrupt, one of the most deceitful and one of the most complicit organisations involved in destroying nations around the world. So, who are they to talk? Of course they want the military to back off, that would surely finish off any last vestiges of hope left in the people's minds and hearts.

    Mathew Lee has been covering the corruption at the U.N. for quite some time. Check out his site.

  8. damn if you get captured by a cartel your human rights are totally gone.

    Idiot UN someone should really show a torture video with those cartels for human rights.

  9. Of course its the military should be redeployed to their barracks!! Who the hell doesn't want that? But Mexico's police culture is one of turpitude and betrayal. It'll be unworkable, for now.

    Even the geniuses above might be able to see why mixing the military's duties with police duties is the ideal formula for chaos: careless young bucks accountable to commanders with loyalties to their flag officers somewhere far off (and not the locals). These kids see boogy-men lurking everywhere; innocents pay the price for their "oopsies."

    Local police, accountable to local civil control, is a mainstay of municipal government for a reason.

  10. All the usual USA Brown Shirts of BB have now started to chortle in their total support for more guns, more uniforms, and more military equipment for Mexico, courtesy of the USA military industrial complex via the 'Merida Initiative' funding US taxpayers are pushed into providing. They ignore the following since they just don't care..

    'The recommendation follows a spike in abuse claims since the Army was first deployed four years ago to fight drug traffickers, said the preliminary report by a UN human rights office working group. The group said the military and other government forces have become involved in an increasing number of disappearance cases that can no longer only be attributed to organized crime.'

    In fact, these USA knuckleheads want the Mexican rich to organize covert death squads and to use them in addition to out of control military and police units that respect no human rights values at all. And there are, of course, cheerleaders of the Mexican Right Wing, who echo this bloodlust of the US Right for committing greater atrocities inside ALL Latin America, and not just homeland Mexico itself. These Mexican Rightist dittoheads are ready to run off to San Antonio, Aspen-Colorado, Santa Fe, or any other of their traditional US safe haven favorites at the slightest danger to their pampered butts, all the while waving the Mexican flag wildly above their heads!

    How the international Right Wing hates the UN! They are as dumb as the US DP addicted liberals who have a love affair with the UN, despite it always backing up the Pentagon's aggressions. Don't worry, both camps.... The US is just mouthing off 'concern' for the record. They too will fall on Pentagon US military board, if and when the US ups the ante and overtly starts any new hot war, Mexico and Latin America included. The drug war is not that yet, and is merely the propaganda to keep the door open for worse to come from the US government.

  11. No, there needs to be a military enforcing laws, Anonymous. But any campaign against Mexican drug dealers directed from D.C. in Mexico that has an exclusive military emphasis (backed up and mainly started from Washington) will accomplish the exact opposite of its stated intentions. It's not a matter of me, Mexico, or anybody else advocating that we all be 'soft on criminals', as you put it.

    It is a matter of US based knuckleheads advocating only using greater and greater use of law enforcement violence when the laws themselves are bad, when there is no decent economy to provide people with real jobs, and there is no national independence from others that would abuse Mexico for their own imperialist reasons of Empire and desires for Empire.

    Your tough USA machista talk about 'hanging scum for treason' is a recipe for pure failure. Plus, you should talk of treason here???? You're a US citizen talking about their Mexican affairs! Bizarre! Incongruous. Stupid.

    You going to shoot me now? right at your typical USA Right Wing stupidness...

    'Where do they find these people? people that make suggestions like this while keeping a serious look on their faces need to be taken out back and shot...'

    They get numbskulls like you out of the military perhaps? Or are you just a wannabe soldier boy play cop type? Egads.

  12. @ Ardent:
    Re: Your quote "...when there is no decent economy to provide people with real jobs", presuposes people who create companies and businesses who can actually provide the jobs in the first place.

    But when businesses are being extorted, burned, owners kidnapped and killed, who in their right mind wants to start a new business now..its like the Ferrari's in Monterrey showrooms paid for but unclaimed...

    Mexico has a real creation of wealth problem right now, no thanks to the cartels that attempt to sabbatoge these businesses...and if they need to hire armed guards for protection you cannot necessairly say they are "right-wing death squads."

    Secondly, "and there is no national independence from others that would abuse Mexico for their own imperialist reasons of Empire and desires for Empire."

    If I understand you correctly, and it's hard to do so, you are saying if other country's would just leave Mexico alone and stop desiring to covet them for their own 'empire', then Mexico could figure out the war against the cartels on their own...maybe try a few more social programs...and who pays for all this?

    The US government is no perfect angel and needs to get out of these wars and let other countries fight it out amongst themselves--but Mexico has asked for our help and I think as a trading partner and neighbor we need to help them with this problem of lawlessness.

    The UN and their human rights be damned. Where are they coming out against the drug cartels and fighting for the rights of innocent victims of this war? When you hear about all these activists being kidnapped and killed, where is the UN?? Show me an article on how they have helped???

  13. Well said Layla2

    As someone who has lived and worked in Monterrey for 11 years, the changes have been staggering. The criminal element is responsible for the loss of jobs in so many ways through extortion and the terrible security situation.

    I can tell you for fact that as Director-General of a large factory, we have cut over 250 jobs due to the cost of security. All of the executives have armored vehicles and armed guards and our security costs have gone from a few security guards to an armed force and a cost of over $1million per year. So, we have to cut other expenses to the bone.

    In fact, the company is seriously considering pulling out of Mexico entirely because the security costs (both financial and emotional) are taking their toll and eating up a lot of the savings from moving here. In Mexico alone, we currently employ over 50,000 people.

    Mexico WAS a great climate for creating jobs and opportunity. But the actions of the cartels have undermined that.

    As for the UN comments, they are seriously out of touch with reality. The army has a long history of corruption (that is why the Marines are doing a lot of the work), but what alternative is there? The even more corrupt police - the same people who routinely stop you for some made-up offence and try to get $ every time I drive back from the States? Or who run from the Zetas or help them?

    Much rather have the Army, thank you

  14. Withdrawing the army won't change anything. When Calderon visited Juarez, the people screamed that they wanted the army out of their city, so pendejo Calderon granted them their wishes and removed the majority of his military out of Juarez. Afterwards, the violence only got worse.

    The government needs to remove the army's incompetent and corrupt leaders. Bad leadership only creates bad followers. Calderon needs to keep a closer eye on his military leaders and create more military housing. Take care of the military like the U.S. does. Not impossible.

    The mexican army has bad leadership. Their leaders are a bunch of imbeciles. The core foundation of the army is based on discipline. Without any discipline, all you have is a bunch of young thugs with big guns roaming the streets and harassing the people that they should be protecting. Mexico needs to be taught discipline.

    In Juarez, the people complained that the military ransacked their homes and abused them and also harassed them on the streets. But I believe that the icing on the cake was the fact that the army was not only abusing the people but they were also never around when the people needed them the most. They always arrived late after shootings. In a few incidents(including one that was at the Zarragosa bridge)the army witnessed people getting shot to death and did nothing at all. So this stupid army doesn't even contribute to their responsiblities of protecting the citizens. This comes from bad leadership.

    As far as the UN, they should just keep their mouths shut. They could care less about Mexico's problems. They are themselves a weak example of being the world's protectors. Anything that
    interests the UN contains strategies of sustaining oil and protecting the U.S.

  15. There does need to be military in mexico....The American Military!

    Mexico does'nt know how to govern themselves. They need better heads protecting their country and people. The American government would easily put the cartels in their places and they could teach the mexican military some good ol' fashioned DISCIPLINE.

  16. Mexico Should Ignore the UN

    The Mexican government should able to ignore the United Nations (UN) and press on with its mission. Mexico needs to continue to bring up the pressure against the cartels and their supporters. Increasing the tempo of military operations and temporarily limiting press reporting of cartel activities that enhances their psychological influence over the population is a needed start. Effective governance, financial and infrastructural development is still needed to steal the population away from the cartels influence. The government lacks credibility here.

    One thing the UN may also want to take into account is the possibility of them being used as a "useful idiot", as useful idiots typically offer an entity blind support without thoroughly investigating the circumstances of an incident. In the case of Mexico, it may be true that people DRESSED like soldiers may be killing innocent people. Someone may need to prove that they ARE soldiers as cartels often pose as authorities to conceal their actions. This works to their benefit as it gives the cartel a two-for-one deal...they liquidate their target, and the break down popular support for the government.

    The UN has absolutely no credibility when it comes to counterinsurgency or actual tangible threat mitigation. Unless the UN offers tangible forms of assistance to the people of Mexico that will measurably mitigate the influence and pervasiveness of the drug cartel activities, it should be ignored.

    Of note, the UN is only effective at addressing nation-state actors, the UN is totally ineffective at addressing the dominant threats today...non-state actors e.g. terrorist groups like al Qaeda and international organized criminal elements. The UN only controls those who allow themselves to be controlled.

    Innocents are likely being killed or made to disappear by both's a tragedy. However the Mexican government cannot afford to let up pressure if it wishes to survive as a state. The best the government will likely be able to do at this time is remove families from the environment so they can prosecute the fight by isolating their targets.

    The situation appears so bad in Mexico right now that an increase in military/paramilitary organizational agility, targeted kinetic efforts and penetration of cartel organizations is needed. The goal is to get cartel members not to trust each other; to also sow distrust amongst its support elements; to limit cartel access to information that allows them to gauge their success and terminate them. In the aftermath, the government needs to shape other elements conducive for effective governance as soon as possible.

    The measure of success Mexico needs to achieve is to bring down the level of violence to a point where people can either ignore the problem and continue their lives, and/or seize opportunities to fight against them in their own local manner without outside support....this is a respectable measure of success.

    The total elimination of drug or criminal activity is not a realistic goal. However, by creating conditions where local towns can handle the problems at their own level without assistance/direct intervention of national level forces is a realistic goal.

  17. 'If I understand you correctly, (Ardent) and it's hard to do so, you are saying if other country's would just leave Mexico alone and stop desiring to covet them for their own 'empire', then Mexico could figure out the war against the cartels on their own...maybe try a few more social programs...and who pays for all this?'

    Answer... How about Carlos Slim and a few more of his Mexican upper class robber baron buddies propped up by the US Empire pay for 'this', Anonymous, Layla2? You USA people who love the Mexican military, Calderon, and the US Empire so much seem to have a total lack of imagination... Imagine another world, you collective Whirled Pea Brains of the Right! And imagine a 'united nations' not controlled by the US corporate war loving government. You guys attack the institution owned by the US for being too far Left for you!!!???? How silly you ditto-hens really are!


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