Friday, October 26, 2012

Greasing the Machine

While nobody talks about it, there is no doubt but what every Mexican Administration for the past fifty years has been complicit in the drug trade. Some are more engaged than others, but there doesn't seem to be much difference between Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) and Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI. Both sell plazas to favored drug kingpins and then work diligently to protect their financial interests by shielding those plazas and drug trafficking routes. There are always sacrificial goats who end up in prison (usually paroled on weekends to visit their families and attend family fiestas).

Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD, the Mexican version of a 'communist party' tries to hold themselves as somehow above the narco mix but in the last election they (key party members) accepted contributions from known narcos and from their attorneys. They were paid less than their PRI counterparts because nobody expected them to win, but they still were rewarded for dragging the sack from place to place in search of money.

It may be instructional for people now and in the future who read this blog to understand how the pay-offs happen and the mechanisms that make it work.

When some of this information that you're going to read was presented to Vice President Joe Biden, he wanted to know how it differed from the way things were handled in the United States. 

In Mexico, it's not all that tough to know who the narcos are. And if you're a politician taking a briefcase or a suitcase full of cash from a known narco attorney -- you know where the money is coming from. And you also know that if you win, you will owe favors, which will be called due and payable in time.

In the same way that I know that the Sinaloa Federation is using the Estancion Abuya Airfield near Culiacan as their principal airstrip and that they're no longer using the airport at Imala, politicians know what is going on around them. That's what they do. Politicians worldwide obtain contributions (clean and dirty) by knowing what their constituency wants and being able to deliver the goods.

In the same way as people know who the alcalde (mayor) is in a town, they know which thug runs the organized crime rackets. For example:  If you live in Coahuayana de Hidalgo, you know that the regional narco is El Del Los Cortes Finos and that he reports to Servando Gomez Martinez (La Tuta). 

Back to the issue of political bag men in Mexico. Sometimes the plazas are sold by the President's family. In the Fox Administration, it's rumored that his wife, Marta Shagun's sons sold the plazas directly. I don't know who President Pena Nieto will select as attorney general. There are rumors and it might be Ignacio Morales Lechuga, who served in that role under President Carlos Salinas de Gotiari (1991-93). Whether PGR will lead the effort at collection or not becomes a political decision that may not yet have been made.

One thing is certain, plazas will be sold, landing rights will be guaranteed at certain airstrips and some ports (Manzanillo is high on the list as is Puerto Lazlo Cardenas) will be guaranteed as ports of entry for narcotics precursors and cocaine coming north from South America. It's how business has always been done and there is no indication that it will change.

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