Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Perhaps, it is worth recalling that the political movement that resulted in the electoral victories of Evo Morales in Bolivia partially originated amongst coca growers, including Morales himself, angry at US crop eradication efforts, although these growers insisted that they did want to grow coca for refinement into cocaine, and organized non-violently. Even so, we should be wary of media characterizations of the violence in Mexico that places it outside of any context other than criminality.
All this duel centennial year, ideologically driven leftists here have been waiting with baited breath for a resurgence of armed rebellion such as in 1994 when the EZLN rose up against the mal gobierno in Chiapas, or in 1996 when the EPR staged a series of murderous raids on military and police installations - but the leftists may be barking up the wrong tree.
If revolution is to be defined as the overthrow of an unpopular government and the taking of state power by armed partisans, then the new Mexican revolution is already underway, at least in the north of the country where Calderon's ill-advised drug campaign against the cartels (in which according to the latest CISEN data 28,000 citizens have died) has morphed into generalized warfare.
Although the fighting has been largely confined to the north, it should be remembered that Mexico's 1910 revolution began in that geography under the command of Villa and Orozco, Venustiano Carranza, Alvaro Obregon, and Francisco Madero, and then spread south to the power center of the country.
Given the qualitative leap in violence, Edgardo Buscaglia, a keen analyst of drug policy at the prestigious Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico now describes Calderon's war as a narco-insurgency - a descriptive recently endorsed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Daily events reported in the nation's press lend graphic substance to the terminology.
Narco-commandos attack military and police barracks, carrying off arms and freeing prisoners from prisons in classic guerrilla fashion. As if to replay the 1910 uprising in the north, the narco gangs loot and torch the mansions of the rich in Ciudad Juarez. The narcos mount public massacres in northern cities like Juarez and Torreon that leave dozens dead and seem designed to terrorize the local populous caught up in the crossfire and impress upon the citizenry that the government can no longer protect them, a classic guerrilla warfare strategy.
One very 2010 wrinkle to the upsurge in violence: car bombs triggered by cell phones detonate in downtown Juarez, a technology that seems to have been borrowed from the U.S. invasion of Iraq (El Paso just across the river is home to several military bases where returning veterans of that crusade are housed.) Plastique-like C-4 explosives used in a July 15th car bombing that killed four in downtown Juarez are readily available at Mexican mining sites.