Northern Command, With Help From State Department's Plan Mexico, Directs Attention Towards Mexico's Most Violent City
Last week a Narco News investigation revealed that a military unit created in 2002 for homeland defense missions called US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) had become more involved in assisting the Mexican military to wage the drug war. Now more information has come to light connecting the unit to a pilot program in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, which has become one of the deadliest cities in Mexico due to drug war related violence.
On Friday the Mexican daily Milenio published a story titled “US 'Intelligence Consultants' Arrive To Ciudad Juárez,” which earned a lot of media attention and was quickly spread around by wire services throughout the country. The article cites a document from the State Department that details a “joint pilot program in support of Mexico’s efforts to confront and reverse the violence that has plagued Ciudad Juárez,” with the hook that a least one “technical adviser” from the US government would be working on Mexican soil in the Juárez full time to assist in sharing intelligence between the two countries. This program came out of meetings held between both governments in January and February 2010, and it is a part of the State Department's Plan Mexico (also known as the Mérida Initiative), a 2008 security pact in which the United States provides training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and the armed forces to wage the drug war.
What went unreported was NORTHCOM's involvement. According to the document cited by Milenio, which can be found online in English, a military group called the Joint Task Force North, a subordinate command of NORTHCOM located close to the US-Mexico border at Fort Bliss in Texas, helped give birth to the Juárez program. Through “a planning and coordinating mission established to support law enforcement agencies counter the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S along the Southwest border” the task force “hosted the Ciudad Juárez / El Paso Planning Initiative, a working group attended by members from U.S. local, state, and federal governments and Mexican federal and state government representatives, to establish the ways, ends, and means in developing a common assessment, approach, and execution structure to enhance public security.”
The military is also using Plan Mexico to fund encrypted communication methods for police forces in Juárez, and “cross border communications,” where radio links will be set up between law enforcement officials on both sides of the border, according to the document. The recent news of the military unit's involvement in this new Juárez program continues to add evidence to NORTHCOM's growing involvement in Mexico's drug war.
Massive Facility Would Serve Law Enforcers, Military and Their Drones
A company fronted by a former Navy SEAL is only a few weeks away from potentially gaining approval to develop a nearly 1,000-acre military and law enforcement training camp near the U.S. border in Southern California, less than a 20-minute drone flight from the sister border cities of San Diego and Tijuana.
Missive Inspires Yet More Intrigue
Narco News today received a very interesting e-mail from an intelligence agency seeking information about the ongoing CIA drone-code scandal that has surfaced in a lawsuit filed in a Boston court.
Mexican Federal Judge Frees 15 People Accused Of Participating In Infamous Killings That Left 45 People Dead
Las Abejas ("The Bees” in English), an indigenous civil society organization in Mexico, is denouncing the release of 15 prisoners responsible for a massacre committed by paramilitaries in the village of Acteal, Chiapas on December 22, 1997. Late last week, a federal judge announced that the inmates would be freed due to “good behavior,” despite being involved in the vicious killings that left 45 unarmed villagers dead on that day. Most of the victims were women and children.
Federal Report Cited By Office Contradicts Claims That Young People Are Using Marijuana At Younger Ages
On Thursday the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), headed by drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, issued a startling press release with the capitalized title “TEENS USING MARIJUANA AT YOUNGER AGES.” Citing the government's most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2009, the Office claimed that for marijuana, “the average age of initiation – first-time use of the drug − dropped from 17.8 in 2008 to 17.0 in 2009.”
After a closer look of the data cited by the ONDCP, the claim that teens today are currently using marijuana at younger ages is misleading. In fact, the same data shows that young people who recently tried marijuana are doing so at older ages.
Upon entering The Field this morning, I clicked too quickly and ended up in My Account instead of Recent Posts.
A personal News Flash: I've been a Co-Publisher for 2 years and 8 hours. My first $$ was in response to Al's need for admittance for the DNC Convention. Al and his analysis of the election was critical and helped me stay focused and organized. I still need that.
Su designación se da en medio de la polémica por su supuesto vínculo con grupos narcotraficantes
Genaro García Luna fue designado secretario ejecutivo de la Comunidad de Policías de América, también conocida como Ameripol, en sustitución del jefe de la policía nacional colombiana, Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo.
La Ameripol tiene como uno de los principales objetivos el combate al narcotráfico. García Luna obtuvo la designación aún a pesar que su figura al frente de la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública ha sido largamente cuestionada por los nexos del narcotráfico que su círculo más cercano ha mantenido. En agosto de este año la revista Nexos publicó que “la mayor parte del círculo de colaboradores de Genaro García Luna estaba coludida con el narcotráfico.” Esta acusación va acompañada por el señalamiento de un testigo protegido de que Mario Arturo Velarde Martínez, secretario privado de García Luna durante su período al frente de la Agencia Federal de Investigaciones (AFI) en el último sexenio, tenía tratos con el grupo de los hermanos Beltrán Leyva.
Su designación como secretario ejecutivo de la Ameripol—cargo que ocupará de 2010 al 2013—se da cuando su gestión al frente de la SSP es motivo de controversia por la supuesta protección a grupos específicos del narcotráfico al mismo tiempo en que se desarrolla la guerra contra las drogas del presidente Felipe Calderón, y a que a pesar de estar al frente de la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Federal tiene averiguaciones previas ante la Procuraduría General de la República (PGR). La designación también se da frente a la polémica por la construcción de una enorme mansión de su propiedad al sur de la Ciudad de México y que tiene un costo aproximado de 2 millones de dólares, lo que para algunos hace sospechar la procedencia de dichos recursos debido a que, de acuerdo con algunos reportes, el salario de García Luna no es suficiente para adquirir dicha propiedad, ya que en 2008 había declarado que tenía una deuda de más de 6.8 millones de pesos (unos USD 550,000).
U.S. Commercial Media Finally Jumps on the Story After British Publication Cribs Narco News’ Coverage
One of the largest and best-known corporations in the world, IBM, is now on center stage in a dispute between two Massachusetts technology companies — one of which is accusing the other of essentially stealing its software code and reselling it to the CIA for use in the Predator Drone program.
Republican House members used taxpayer money to boost de facto government as it was criminalizing dissent, shutting down media outlets
Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives spent nearly $25,000 in taxpayer funds to support the coup in Honduras. An analysis of Congressional travel reports shows four far-right legislators— Rep. Connie Mack (Fla.), Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (Calif.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.)—used the money to fly themselves and their GOP staff members to Honduras during the critical months following the violent ousting of democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. Those trips were then used by coup plotters and supporters to create a false sense of legitimacy towards their tactics of criminalizing civil resistance and shutting down the country's media outlets.
On June 28, 2009 Zelaya was forcibly removed from office and exiled to Costa Rica, in a coup d'état orchestrated by the country's oligarchy. Roberto Micheletti, then leader of the National Congress in Honduras, was appointed to be the new president of the de facto government that was created after the coup. The majority of countries throughout the world condemned the coup, and the next day President Barack Obama told reporters that, “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there.”
Less than a month later, after the de facto coup government in the country had passed an emergency law banning basic liberties like the right to protest and due process, Reps. Bilbray and Mack traveled to the capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras on July 25 to show support for the Micheletti regime. During the taxpayer-funded expedition, which was labeled a “congressional delegation trip,” the two lawmakers met with Micheletti, businessmen and lawmakers responsible for the coup. Mack, who lead the trip and had already voiced support for the coup government before arriving in Honduras, parroted the lies used by the coup plotters that removing Zelaya at gun point was legal and constitutional. After the visit, Bilbray disseminated those distortions to the US media and encouraged the Obama administration to negotiate with Micheletti. The total cost billed to taxpayers was $7,684.80, according to Congressional foreign travel reports.
On October 5 later that year, a few weeks after the de facto government had used the military to shut down and censor opposition media outlets, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, organized another visit to Honduras that was financed with $9,562.68 in public funds. Ros-Lehtinen used the trip to boost the de facto regime, which had suffered a significant blow in late September when Zelaya had managed to return to the country and was trapped inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. During the visit, Ros-Lehtinen denounced the US government's decision to withhold financial aid and visas to the coup government, and later Tweeted from the country that the Honduran people “don't want [Zelaya] back!”
Days before Ros-Lehtinen arrived in Tegucigalpa, Republican coup supporter and Senator Jim DeMint (N.C.) had a public scuffle with Democratic Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, over travel to Honduras. When Kerry blocked DeMint from using taxpayer funds to finance his own coup-boosting trip to Honduras, DeMint arranged for the US military to fly him there with three other House members. Ros-Lehtinen's travel was not a part of the DeMint trip, according to Bradley Goehner, the Republican communications director for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The last taxpayer-funded trip to boost the Honduran coup backers was after the country's November presidential elections, which were held amid a climate of “intimidation, torture, illegal detentions and in extreme cases, assassinations.” After documented electoral fraud, National Party candidate and coup supporter Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo was announced the winner, with the State Department endorsing the election results. Once Lobo had been inaugurated, Republican Rep. Rohrabacher, who had written a letter of support for Micheletti, traveled to the country on Jan. 31 to meet with Lobo. “After the new president was elected, he traveled to Honduras to let the newly elected government know that Republicans supported them,” says Tara Olivia Setmayer, a media representative for Rohrabacher. The trip cost $7,473.40, bringing the total spent on coup-boosting trips in Honduras to $24,720.88.
When compared to the federal government's multi-trillion dollar budget, the money may seem trivial. However, there's no denying that those funds—which could make up a small annual salary for one person in the United States—went towards Republican efforts to support a regime that continues to censor opposition media, criminalize dissent, and commit numerous human rights violations in Honduras.
Contracts show School of the Americas, Special Ops Group, Working Inside The Country
Procurement data from the Federal Procurement Data System shows that in September the US Embassy in Mexico City paid Sheraton Hotels more than $15,000 for an event featuring the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC, formerly the School of the Americas), a Department of Defense school that specializes in training students from Latin America and has a notorious history of contributing to human rights abuses abroad.
The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), a military school that teaches special operations tactics, is also listed as being involved. The State Department has not disclosed which Sheraton hotels were used, but the procurement data states the contract work was performed in Mexico. Sheraton lists hotel locations in the historic center of Mexico City, the city's wealthy suburb of Santa Fe, the beach resort city of Cancún, and city of Monterrey.
When asked about the procurement data, embassy spokesman Alexander Featherstone first stated that the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), a military unit created in 2002 for homeland defense missions, is involved in training the Mexican military with help from the State Department.
“At the request of the Mexican government and in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, USNORTHCOM conducts information exchanges and training across a number of broad areas and disciplines,” Featherstone said. “These trainings take place both in Mexico and the U.S.”
“These training opportunities and exchanges have helped the militaries of Mexico and the United States to build a relationship based on trust, confidence, mutual benefit and mutual respect for sovereignty,” Featherstone added.
Regarding the hotel payments, Featherstone then said that the Department of Defense, through the Office of Defense Coordination at the U.S. Embassy, uses meeting rooms for “seminars, conferences, and meeting venues,” including for events that focus on “counternarcotics efforts.”
When asked if the funds used by the embassy were part of the Mérida Initiative, a 2008 security pact in which the United States provides training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and the armed forces to wage the drug war, Featherstone stated that they were not.
“While this military training is not funded with Merida Initiative funds, the expenditure is in the spirit of the Merida Initiative objectives and fully supports the U.S. whole-of-government effort to work closely with Mexico,” Featherstone said.
President announces that he will be unwavering with his principles
Quito (Pichincha) – The president, Rafael Correa, who stands against a seditious attempt by some members of the National Police against the democratic and constitutional regime lead by the president, announced that despite attempts to attack the government and even him as a person, he would be unwavering with his principles.
“I'm not going to back down, if you want to come here and look for me, shoot me and the Republic will move forward, kill me, but as Pablo Neruda said, 'You can cut all the flowers but you cannot stop the Spring from coming,'” he told Radio Pública.
From the Police Hospital, where he came after being attacked during a visit to Quito Regiment # 1—after being hit by a tear gas canister—the president expressed his profound rejection of the actions taken by a sector of the police who hope to destabilize the regime based on their opposition to the vetoes announced to the Public Service Act.
According to the President, this attempt at destabilization is the result of a strategy that has been brewing for quite some time. A barrage of messages and misinformation have been given to the National Police, which today has been realized through violent actions from a conspiracy attempt.
“A while ago they came looking for a coup, because they can't win at the polls and there are compañerosof ours who do not understand that this is part of a political mission,” he said, in relation to the serious possibility of a “muerte cruzada”* with the National Congress.
He announced that he would return to Carondelet Palace when the security conditions allowed, as there is a possibility that the hospital was affected by this morning's actions.
*The constitutionally-granted power of the president to dissolve Congress and hold pending immediate elections, when there is a deadlocked Congress.
September 10, 2010.
Yesterday we read the report from the Good Government Junta of Oventic, which tells of the attacks and acts of provocation that people affiliated with the PRD, PRI and the Green Party, financed by the three levels of government, have committed against our companer@ Zapatista Support Bases (BAZ) from the community of San Marcos in the official municipality of Chilon, and on the person of our companero, Manuel Vázquez, from Pamala community, located in the official municipality of Citala.
The illegal detention of Manuel Vázquez and Pedro Gómez Cruz, deprived of their liberty for being Zapatistas and for not giving in to to the pressures of the attackers to destroy a school, where Zapatista children receive an autonomous education which allows them to know and understand their own reality, as well as the national and international situation. In addition, if it were not for our Zapatistas companer@s, they would have no schools in these communities.
This barbaric action of wanting to destroy an autonomous school was followed by direct aggression and the displacement of 170 Zapatista Support Base companer@s from their homes and their dispossession from their lands, which they acquired ten years ago, and have worked continually ever since.
Attorney General Cites Dubious Evidence to Fire Senator Piedad Cordoba, Opposition Leader
Colombia's Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado today announced he was firing opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba from the nation's Congress, barring her from public service for 18 years.
Sen. Piedad Cordoba, a member of the country's Liberal Party and an outspoken critic of the government's drug war policies, was dismissed for allegedly aiding members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group (FARC in Spanish initials).
Piedad Cordoba has not been charged with a crime, and the only evidence against her comes from dubious electronic documents that were allegedly found by the government after it raided a FARC camp in 2008. At the time the Colombian government claimed that it had found laptops belonging to FARC leader Raul Reyes.
Soon after the supposed discovery of the electronic equipment, the government's official line on the raid kept changing. The number of computer disks found fluctuated. Colombian law enforcement authorities admitted to handling the disks before they were given to INTERPOL for inspection. There was no actual proof of where the computers came from, who they belonged to, or who put the documents on to the disks.
For years Piedad Cordoba has continued to criticize US-backed anti-drug operations, which she says have only contributed to countless murders and human rights abuses at the hands of paramilitary and police forces in the country. In a 2004 interview with Narco News, Piedad Cordoba said “Every day the crisis gets deeper. There are people who have made the decision to look for a military solution for a problem that is connected, inarguably, to the drug trade, but also to misery and poverty.”
Colombian Government’s RICO Litigation Alleges Global Booze Companies Are Doing Business with Narco-Traffickers
Occasionally, the U.S. justice system opens a window into the true nature of the drug-war pretense, despite the political rhetoric employed to conceal the hypocrisy.
That is the case with respect to a pending lawsuit that pits the government of Colombia, and its various departments (or states) against two of the world’s largest liquor producers, England-based Diageo Plc and France-based Pernod Ricard SA — both of which have major U.S. operations and produce well-known brands such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan Chivas Regal and Martell.
In the litigation, a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act case filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, the government of Colombia accuses the giant liquor companies and their co-conspirators, including distributors based in Aruba (a Caribbean island nation just northeast of Colombia), of having “engaged in and facilitated organized crime by laundering the proceeds of narcotics trafficking,” among other acts, according to the court pleadings.
In what can only be described as a real head-scratcher, the government of Colombia is continuing to wage this legal battle against the liquor makers even while it presses for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States that, by the terms of the proposed pact (now awaiting approval from the U.S. Congress), would actually make it easier for liquor makers and distributors to expand their business activities in Colombia.
Sunday, September 26, Venezuelans will elect the members of their national assembly for the next five years. No one can foretell the outcome of the elections. The stakes are high.
If the opposition can win one third of the seats, they will be able to effectively put brakes on many of the Chávez government’s proposals. But, whatever the outcome, there are some things to keep in mind.
One: the electoral process in Venezuela is one of the finest in the world. I am not able to vote in these national elections because I am not a Venezuelan citizen. But, as a person who has more than ten years residency in the country, Venezuela does give me the right to vote in local and state elections and so I can personally describe the process.
First, one has to be registered to vote. Upon arriving at the proper election place, there is a list indicating which of the voting tables has your personal information and the voting machine you will use. You are required to show proper identification, sign that you have come to vote, and put a thumb print alongside your signature.
All voting is then done electronically, but when you have touched the button to register your vote, you also receive a printout of your choices which you then deposit in a ballot box. (After the elections, 54% of these are checked to verify that they conform to the results of the electronic results). Finally you are required to dip the small finger of your right hand in a cleansing solution to remove any oils before dipping it in a bottle of indelible ink that is impossible to remove for several days, thus preventing a person from returning to vote more than once.