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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Argument for a new Michoacanazo

El Diario (2-12-2014) By Maria Amparo Casar, CIDE Researcher

Translated for Borderland Beat by un vato

Maria Amparo Casar, CIDE researcher, has an interesting suggestion; don't just talk about the Colombian experience; adopt some of the measures the Colombians used used to fight corruption. CIDE (Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica; Center for Economics Research and Teaching) is widely considered to be Mexico's most prestigious academic institution in the areas in which it specializes. -- un vato  

Distrito Federal.-- Uriel Farias Alvarez was elected mayor of Tepalcatepec for the PRI in 2007.  In 2009, he was arrested in the Federal operation known as the "Michoacanazo" in which 36 persons -- among them 16 state officials, 11 municipal presidents (mayors) and a judge -- were arrested for suspected ties to organized crime.

The operation, a success because of the arrests, ended up being a disaster because of the results. Uriel himself, who was substituted by his wife as mayor, was released less than a year later and resumed the municipal presidency. Today, all 36 are free. We don't know if some of them were unjustly accused, but all of them were set free, not because their innocence was proven, but because of ministerial and judicial incompetence.

"There will not be another 'Michoacanazo'", declares Secretary Osorio Chong. Hopefully, he's referring to the final failure of that project and not to the philosophy that must have animated it, but which the previous government could not sustain because of inability, weakness, or, even worse, because of political deals: because the Public Ministry did not structure the inquiries adequately, because the judge adopted some procedural legalism, or because there was a political fix.

It is possible that, as the PRI claims, the 2009 "Michoacanazo" was intended to "subdue a political enemy", and it is said that "when there's an accusation, there must be legal basis in order to act on (that accusation)". But one would hope that there is a "Michoacanazo" somewhere in the picture in the plan to recover a good portion of the Michoacan territory, in the sense of attacking the problem of collusion between authorities and organized crime.

But no. There isn't. It is surprising that the Michoacan Plan, designed to return public security to the state, contains only measures dealing with the state's social and economic development.  Not because it is not important to promote employment, education, culture, health and infrastructure, but because none of these will work without an effective rule of law, something that has not existed in that state for a long time. 

And the rule of law cannot exist if those in charge of making it work are submissive to, or part of, organized crime.  Neither public strength nor a 45 billion peso checkbook will be enough.

In the strategy for regaining Michoacan there has been much talk of the Colombian experience, but very little has been adopted from that country's long struggle against the drug lords. Particularly the measures aimed at combating political and administrative corruption.

In the Anti-corruption Plan that was part of its strategy, Colombia began by admitting the complicity between politics and organized crime, and the takeover of the structures of government, including  local and federal (governments), the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Powers, and the electoral process.

The plan had several measures, including the creation of anti-corruption councils controlled by citizens;  a model for the investigation of corrupt practices;  background checks of all candidates that wanted to compete in elections; scrutiny of campaign finances;  training courses for local governments and a reform (that allowed) intervention in municipal administrations.

And it wasn't just talk; the Anti-corruption Plan ended up prosecuting more than 60 legislators whose parliamentary immunity was removed and more than 40 state and local government officials for ties to organized crime. There was even an arrest warrant issued for the former President of the Congress himself.

A strategy like this requires, first of all, an admission that little can be done without cleaning up the structures of government. It also requires an admission that ties to organized crime are equally present in the governments of all political parties.  Today, as in the 2009 "Michoacanazo", governors, former governors and officials from the PRI and the PRD parties, and mayors and legislators from the three political parties are being accused.

Finally, it requires a pact between all members of the political class that all of them will be investigated, including looking into their political trajectories as well as into the origin and destination of their financial resources. Without these three requirements, Commissioner (Castillo's) actions, the deployment of government forces, and the resources destined for social and economic development will not do much good.

There are no signs that this is in the Mexican government's plans.  Instead of investigations and prosecutions by law enforcement agencies and justice departments of authorities linked with organized crime, what we see are self defense forces removing or displacing mayors or, at best, the federal government substituting the functions of state and local authorities without even investigating their history.

Osorio Chong says that there has been no progress in the proceedings because they don't have the evidence to accuse anybody. The answer is simple: there will be no evidence if there isn't an agreement to investigate everyone, without exception, with or without indications.        


  1. Is the 'real' concern for the future of Mexico or about its past?

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid.

    Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings.

    Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

    The TRC, the first of the nineteen held internationally to stage public hearings, was seen by many as a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa.

    Despite some flaws, it is generally thought to have been successful,

  2. What about a MEXICANAZO instead starting with Enrique Pela Nieto and PRI-AN (Pri and Pan they're both corrupt)

  3. the three little pigs brick house was strongly built at last, and the government sent the big bad wolf to live inside the house to oversee and supervise the three little pigs, armed to the teeth...

  4. eh, mexico's justice dept is all effed up...

  5. Dr. Mireles, Feb 5, 2014:

    “Un buen porcentaje del presupuesto, del 15 al 25 por ciento, va directamente a las manos del crimen organizado… desde que el gobierno estatal recibe su presupuesto y también de los municipios” (15-25% of all federal aid to the state goes directly to organized crime)

    "necesitamos que haga una limpieza total desde el gobierno del estado, queremos que se limpie de estas lacras, las tenemos en todos lados, presidencias, en el Congreso, en el estado." (we need to completely clean out the evil at all levels, from mayors, the state Congress and the state government)

  6. maybe Eric Holde can arm the citizens of Mexico instead of arming the cartels...F U Eric Holder!!

  7. To hammer embedded organized crime links in all branches of government/bureaucracy in Michoacán would invite a severe criminal retaliation, something Peña Nieto recognizes as a no-win equation. Better the carrot than the stick -- the effort will be to buy better governance. Bribes, always bribes --it´s the Mexican way.

  8. This comment is for the reporter Un Vato. Is it possible to post a report on the town of tepalcatepec to see how things have been going there since they were one of the 1st towns to go against the cartel and to see how much the lives of the people in that town changed for the better. And i also have a personal interest since i have family in that town, and just wondering if i will ever be able to visit my loves ones again. Thank you for your time.

  9. USEFUL TRIVIA: The name "Uriel" can sometimes be changed to "urinal" by your spell check. No joke. I once submitted a letter to an attorney about one of our employees named Uriel without proof reading it. Big Mistake. As for Uriel Farias Alvarez, maybe changing his name to urinal would be a step up for him.

  10. history is studied worldwide, by historians, that dedicate a great part of their lives to the task, many of them are employed by the moneyed and the governments for their own reasons and with the goals of benefitting from the knowledge.
    it is ok if people want to forgive the transgressions of others with or without punishment, but to forget the lessons of history or to disregard history as a bunch of old ladies tales or under any other pretenses, is a foolish way to go back and repeat the very same errors of the past, the devils disciples are always on the prowl for another chance, and our ignoring history helps them to come back, they know it, we don't, as history is not for the masses.
    having the US on its knees, begging for raising the debt ceiling every year, and hoping expectantly for loans, from the chinese for gosshakes! proves it.
    that the chinese got rich from exploiting their slave communist laborers does not count in the US christian society, not the offshoring of american jobs and techology, the piratizing of intellectual properties and products all over the world as part of the payback was not contemplated until it hurt the pockets of the rich boys that unleashed the chinese tiger on the world, they own the rope factory whose ropes are being used to hang the US, and the transfer was done and financed with government subsidies and tax breaks for the rich, under the false pretenses that it was for the greater good of america, when it was for the economic benefit of a few americans only.
    all this rigmarole happened because people forgot the lessons of history, or never knew them, the propagandistas and the preachers of a new age that contemplates disregard of history, get a good check for their attempts to disinform the rabble, i wish them the best, and a better mask, for their slip shows trough their mask, forgive, but don't ever forget jayhawk...

  11. @2:29 eric holder, for the upteenth time, gunrunning from the US to mexico,has always existed, and under george w bush it took flight like never before, i don't think bush, holder or obama knew about the dirty little operation,but the US gun manufacturers did know that they were grabbing a good chunk of them naco-narcs money, and they probably engineered the whole operation tomenhance the revenue, if the gun lobby and the manufafturers of weaponsndo not care about the US school children getting shot in school, or on the streets, it is as infantile to expect them to care about the mexican murders or the reputation of any blankety blankety president of the US, be it obama or bush, much less eric holder, but of course the program says the black guys in government are to be blamed and tarred and feathered by any means necessary,as per the republican party's revolutionary manual of the nazi teabagger wing rightistas of rush limbaugh et all...


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