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Before the July 1 election in Mexico, Al Jazeera profiled Enrique Peña Nieto, candidate of the left-wing Partido Revolucionario Institucional, (PRI) that ruled Mexico as the “perfect dictatorship” for some 70 years but had been out of power for 12 years. Al Jazeera speculated that a PRI election victory seemed likely but “what happens after that is anybody’s guess.” Now the guessing is over.
Nieto and the PRI had been in power barely two months on August 24 when Mexican Federal Police opened fire, in broad daylight, on a vehicle with clearly marked diplomatic plates and carrying U.S. government employees. The attack, third on American personnel since 2006, wounded Americans Stan Dave Boss, 62, and Jess Garner, 49. Those who doubt the gravity of this attack might imagine the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ambushing U.S. diplomatic officials en route to Ottawa, or Scotland Yard detectives opening up with automatic weapons on U.S. embassy personnel in London.
Nieto said that things would be different in Mexico under an allegedly refurbished PRI, previously known for corruption, cronyism and authoritarian rule. His election was “no return to the past” and he vowed “neither negotiation nor truce” with organized crime. That is unlikely.
The Mexican Federal Police number 35,000 and the United States has spent millions providing them with training and even helicopters. The force supposedly deploys against criminal gangs but in June Mexican federal officers killed three of their own co-workers. Experts speculate the August 24 targets were intelligence agents, so the attack was hardly an accident and intelligence sources are obviously compromised.
Melissa del Bosque of the Texas Observer estimates 60,000 dead and 30,000 disappeared “in Mexico’s burgeoning civil war, spurred by the drug war.” This is a conflict of remorseless savagery, with gangs beheading victims at a rate outpacing that of jihadist Iraqi insurgents. Mexico’s soi disant “revolutionary” ruling class will have a hard time with this bunch. In the revolutionary ideology, as Orwell noted in Animal Farm, rats are comrades. The criminal gangs may well have bankrolled PRI’s return to power. It was, after all, outgoing president Felipe Calderon of the rival Partido Action Nacional (PAN) who deployed the Mexican military against the gangs.
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