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Feature 111416 Proceso

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Donald Trump Era in Mexico, the Wall and Narco-terrorism

By Jorge Carrasco Araizaga (Proceso)

With upstarts in charge of foreign policy, without dialogue between the head of Mexico’s homeland security and his counterpart in the United States, and [with] military leaders more concerned with obtaining legal protection for their operations against drug trafficking, the Mexican government can simply watch the rise of Donald Trump until he reaches the White House.

Regardless of alleged risks and threats to the country given as the reason for his invitation to Trump last August 31, during the US presidential campaign, (Mexican President Enrique) Peña Nieto blundered.

Considering the optimistic reaction to the Republican victory, the Mexican government insists on the error: leaving the initiative (with) the declared enemy of Mexico.

The national security cabinet is absent; the Foreign Secretary, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, just babbles; Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who has all the security apparatus in his hands, doesn't even have a representative at the US Embassy; the Army lacks trust in Washington due to the numerous antecedents of officers and officials with drug trafficking; and the Attorney General's Office (PGR) is lost in changes and replacements. 

Under these conditions, how will Peña face the anti-Mexican animosity of Trump?

On the same day as the election, the president convened his security cabinet. Why, unless it was to find out the outcome of the presidential election in the United States together. Was it necessary for a winner to be defined to create protection scenarios for the country?

(With the) disjointed security policy of the Mexican government, Trump has the full advantage.

After stigmatizing Mexico during his presidential campaign as a country that sends only illegal migrants and drugs, the president-elect of the United States made it clear in his first meeting with the majority in Congress, on Thursday, November 10, that his priorities are immigration and border security.

That is, the wall is not only to control immigrants, but to prevent terrorists from entering the United States via the border with Mexico, the same fixation of former President George W. Bush. The difference is that Trump has come out openly against Mexico.

After the border fence, that incidentally the Clinton administration began building in 1994, the new US president must decide on whether to keep the Merida Initiative or give in to what US security agents, military personnel and ex-military have sought for years: to treat Mexico as a narco-terrorist nation.

Considering drug cartels as no longer mere transnational crime organizations, but as groups using terror in Mexico to reach the US market, is one of the viewpoints that include Mexican Army and Navy commanders and officers who have been trained in the United States.

The stories of alleged ties of Mexican cartels with Middle East terrorist organizations, which spread during the "war on drugs" of the Felipe Calderon government, point to what civil and military analysts have insisted after a decade of violence, by their deadly effects, are like those of an internal civil conflict.

Signed in 2007 by the outgoing administration of George W. Bush and the incoming government of Felipe Calderon, the Merida Initiative was kept by the Democrat administration of Barack Obama. Its main driving force was precisely the former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State in the Obama administration made her first trip to Mexico to finish defining the policy of both countries against drug trafficking.

The main focal point was to fight drug trafficking (and) terrorism, and (to insure) border security. The second, public safety and law enforcement. The third, the institutional and state building of the rule of law. And finally, support for social programs.

After the deaths of more than 200,000 people and over 20,000 disappeared, thousands of violations of human rights, and the increased penetration of crime into formal powers and the control of territories, the Merida Initiative was clearly focused on the repressive component. The result has been the beheading of the drug cartels in an endless confrontation of more and more atomized groups. The rest has also been a failure.

The Merida Initiative has been much more functional for the US government, insofar as Calderon managed to align Mexican intelligence information in his favor, installing military and civilian agencies in Mexico (sic).

If Trump’s security policy towards Mexico focuses on a narco-terrorism approach, it can be expected to increase pressure from Washington for further military intervention in the fight against organized crime groups. That is, more years of violence in Mexico.


“La era Trump en México,” by Jorge Carrasco Araizaga, Apro/Proceso, Nov. 11, 2016, Mexico City.  Edited translation

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