2 weeks ago
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Along the border fence, east side of Tijuana. April, 2011.
One ongoing beef the United States has with the world is (in)justice. "Impunity" gets underlined as something paramount to rid of, and Mexico receives no shortage of reminders about this from their northern neighbours. US officials often toss out terms like "failed state" or "narco state" about Mexico, and it seems like every day a new statement by a US government official appears saying Mexico (amongst most other nations) needs to clean up corruption, improve rule of law and fight impunity.
Enter stage right, Operation Fast and Furious. For those not familiar, "FnF" was the brianchild of the people in the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Through government channels, it aimed to send thousands of guns to Mexico, in order to "snare" cartels. Shockingly (!!!!), this resulted in a lot more guns being in the hands of Mexican cartels, and a lot of Mexicans dying from bullets shot out of guns supplied by a United States government body. Another way of looking at this, a friend suggested, is that US taxpayers helped further arm cartels.
Finally, some ATF employees took out the whistles and blew (I read that they have been fired, but can't confirm this). And this operation - rightly - was shut down, heavily criticized, and its leaders made to testify in US Congress about what in the name of Bebus had infected their minds to such an extent that this seemed, even for a split second, to be a logical plan. (In all the articles I have read on this, it was never overly clear how exactly giving guns to well-documented users of guns would end up "trapping", stopping or prosecuting said users without causing significant harm. A lot of ATF staff must have felt this way too, hence the blowing.)
So, yesterday, the LA Times wrote that three of these same men who had to testify to Congress received heavy promotions. Pro-Motions. This, said some higher up quoted in LAT article, in order to distinguish them for "the skills and abilities they have demonstrated throughout their careers."
It doesn't take a stealthy investigative reporter to deduce that American politicians are not overly concerned with slowing the large-scale deaths on the Mexican side of the border. Nor that they are rather unwilling to do much to help Mexico curb these deaths. So maybe it should sadly not be a surprise. But... BUT, on top of this, American border patrol agent Brian Terry was killed by one of these guns in Arizona this year. Usually America goes on witch hunts for the people responsible for such actions. This time: promotions.
This raises a few hands up for questions: If the ATF did indeed send guns through criminal channels across the border, does that not violate a variety of US, Mexican and international laws? Ie Were these officials not involved in criminal activities? And if so, why no action? Where's the Republicans trying to slam Obama through this? Where are the Democrats decrying this kind of spending on gun-running? Forget political parties, where is anyone with a rule book? Outside of - what to me is - obvious, flagrant professional misconduct, are there really no laws broken in this scenario? Really? What is this if not the impunity the US seems so quick to criticize of Mexico?
Final thought: what would the US do if a similar debacle crossed the same border from the other direction?
Oye. Read the comments section too: its all slamming.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was in Mexico this week. Amongst his chief objectives: better security for Canadians living and traveling in Mexico. This is based on a handful of murders of Canadians in the past year, plus 5 killed in a hotel explosion. And, it surely aims to protect the 1.1 million Canadians STATSCAN say traveled to Mexico in 2010.
Not an altogether bad cause, per say, but it evades a central point: Mexicans. Canada (still) has troops left from the $20 billion Afghanistan mission, plus military equipment and personnel in Libya and Syria and peacekeepers elsewhere. Yet Canada seems genuinely allergic to providing assistance to the violence in Mexico.
Then, that article mentions that Canada has given $4 million for a "regional anti-crime program, like that is a large number (!!!!). (On July 12, for example, the Ontario government gave $10 million to the Toronto Police Force to help fight crime. There have been roughly 25 murders in the Greater Toronto Area this year, and 1300 weapons seized since 2006.)
If Mr. Baird wants to make Mexico safer for Canadians, why not try to first make it safer for Mexicans? This could, for example, include offering some kind of substantial, long-term assistance with items such as security sector, legal reform or provision of intelligence, consulting, training and advising where needed or wanted by people like Mexico's Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa. Why is there no mention of this as even a "possibility"?
For Canada's 5th largest trading partner ($5 billion in exports, $ 22 billion imports), and temporary host for 1 in every 30 Canadian residents each year*, offering 4 mil to fight the enormous security issues in such a large country seems a joke. And an insulting one at that. Especially when this seems to be done only for the purpose of making things safer for Canadian retirees and vactioners, not because the Canadian government actually wants to see a Mexico that is safer for its residents.
* The 1.1 million stat refers to the number of trips Canadians made to Mexico. As many take several trips in a year, the number of Canadians arriving in Mexico would actually be a lot lower than 1 in 30. But since it still illustrates how much time Canadians spend in Mexico, I left it as such.
Posted by Esteyonage at 18:00