Robert’s Latin America Round-Up

28.12.11

Categorie: Americas, Latin America, Latin America Round-Up, Mexico, Robert Beckhusen |
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General Belgrano. Wikimedia photo.

General Belgrano. Wikimedia photo.

by ROBERT BECKHUSEN

Mexico
The Gulf coast city of Veracruz fired more than 800 police officers and 300 staff — the city’s entire municipal police force — in response to infiltration by the Zetas drug cartel. And until the city’s police force can be rebuilt, marines first deployed to the city in September to fight the Zetas will take over. “All those who belong to the now defunct Veracruz-Boca del Rio force can join the police again once they have passed the tests of trustworthiness demanded by the national system of public security,” Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte said.

The firings follow earlier dismissal of nearly 1000 Veracruz state police, and follows similar police purges in other Mexican cities, namely Ciudad Juarez.

“However, amid all this work to clean up police, the mass firings could have dangerous side effects,” writes Hannah Stone. “The Zetas — the very gang who supposedly controls the police force — was founded by members of the Mexican special forces who swapped sides. While the dismissed municipal officers are likely far from elite troops, they could be easy recruits for the group, which is likely in need of new footsoldiers.”

In other news, a series of killings made Christmas morning the “deadliest” holiday of the drug war thus far. The killings range from 13 bodies discovered in a truck bearing Veracruz license plates in southern Tamaulipas, and attacks on passengers buses in Veracruz state, which killed 16, including three U.S. citizens visiting for the holidays. Five people also died at a drug rehabilitation center in Jalisco after eating a poisoned Christmas dinner. Drug rehabilitation centers are frequently targeted by drug gangs.

Meanwhile, it was revealed Monday one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s top lieutenants, Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, dubbed “The Engineer,” was nabbed by army special forces in Sinaloa’s state capital Culiacan. Cabrera has been variously reported as in charge of the cartel’s operations and security wing.

Falkland Islands
Tensions are growing between Argentina and the Falkland Islands, the remote British-ruled archipelago where the United Kingdom once ousted an Argentinian invasion. Earlier this month, the Mercosur trading block — an economic and political partnership between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — agreed to bar Falklands-flagged ships from docking in member state ports. “Malvinas is not an Argentine cause, it is a global cause, because in the Malvinas they are taking our oil and fishing resources,” Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kircher said.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica is reportedly not entirely on board with enforcing the ban in Uruguay proper, and said British-flagged ships will still be allowed to enter his country’s ports. However, Falklands Islands ships being barred from South America’s largest economic power, Brazil, will further isolate the islands. In a Christmas message addressed to the islanders, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We will always maintain our commitment to you on any question of sovereignty. Your right to self-determination is the cornerstone of our policy. We will never negotiate on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless you, the Falkland Islanders, so wish. No democracy could ever do otherwise.”

In other news, previously undisclosed secret papers from the British government revealed the ARA General Belgrano, an Argentinian light cruiser sunk by nuclear attack submarine HMS Conqueror during the 1982 war, was headed into the Falkland Islands 200-mile exclusion zone. The sinking of the Belgrano was a source of much controversy during and after the war, as it was torpedoed in supposedly neutral seas en route back to port. The report, rather, says British naval headquarters intercepted an Argentinian message ordering the Belgrano to enter the exclusion zone.

Regardless, “A peace plan had been floated shortly before the sinking, but Argentina had given no indication of willingness to withdraw. Similarly, both the British and Argentine navies understood that the exclusion zone no longer applied to Argentinian military vessels,” Robert Farley wrote last year at the Information Dissemination blog. Technically, the exclusion zone is intended as means to warn away neutral vessels. Military vessels at sea are legal targets, whether in an exclusion zone or not.

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8 Responses to “Robert’s Latin America Round-Up”

  1. TacoRocco says:

    Are you looking for someone to do a Balkans – SE Europe roundup?

  2. Alejandro says:

    Although Brazil’s decision to deny ships with the Falkland Island flag is important and will have some i’ll effects on the population there, I think that it should be important to note that Chile (Argentina’s historical nemesis)is still oddly pro British rule out of spite for no reason other than they prefer to have the United Kingdom draw Argentina’s ire.

    If Argentina had succeeded in their invasion of the Falklands then they would have gone to war with Chile soon afterward. Also Bolivia brings up their loss of their access to the pacific ocean every six months which doesn’t help Argentina’s claims.

    Argentina’s economy is being hit hard at the moment by the recent slowdown in global demand for durable goods and the rising costs of commodity prices. Because of their national default a decade ago the nation has little leeway into financially manipulating their currency and inflation is discouraging savings and investment.

    In my opinion President Fernandez de Kircher has been looking to re-establish her foreign policy after recent baffles and damaging trade disputes with China and Brazil backfired earlier this year.

    Also the continued industrialization of Colombia and Mexico are proving to be a headache to Buenos Aires and Brasilia as they are shifting the political balance away from the Southern Latin nations.

    In terms of security Colombia’s recent pacification of much of their national countryside has been meet with a rapidly deteriorating environment in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, and possibly Paraguay.

    Though this is getting off topic at this point.

  3. Guillermo says:

    Alandro:
    I agree with you but it also important to notice that know Chile band all ships with the Malvinas Flag. Even they are still close allies with Uk.
    Other important point that you forgot to mention is that Uruguay did not aloud recently a war ship from uk into its port.
    I do not think that Mexico, and Colombia are an important concern for the south countries as they are traditionally more pro USA.
    What is remarkable is that Chile add to the ban, and that Uruguay even they have been miss treated by ARgentina for the last 5 years add to. And that the spanish ships fishing in Malvinas where using Uruguay docks for repairs, and know they are not allow any longer to do do business there.
    It is also important to mention that China support the Argentina claims for a talk.
    And lets not forget that argentinean ships have intecepted spanish ships that have been operating on the Malvinas http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/12/the-falkland-islands-sabre-rattling-with-a-dull-blade/#comment-39035
    This will not help to the Argentinean position but is a pressure on the islanders as anything that they will need will be more expensive.
    As Brazil is becoming the 5th economy they will not allow other nations to mess around their back yard.

  4. Guillermo says:

    However, navy ships from the U.K. bound for the Falkland Islands would not be allowed to port in Uruguay “for reasons of solidarity with Argentina,” Mr. Mujica said.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204552304577112902188115394.html

  5. Alejandro says:

    It seems that the Presidant of Argintina has been busy these past few months though the involvement of the Spanish seems to be a unexpected complication. I think a more interesting factor would have been to pit the British against the Spanish as the island of Gibraltar has also yet to be resolved.

    Also another factor is the use of economic leverage against Chile and other members of the block which is never good in the long run.

    It is confusing to me on how Argintina intends to resolve the issue of the Falklands apart from of course getting additional access to the natural reasources in the area or winning political points at home. Brazil of course has been focused on their security situation and the outbreak of cocaine use in the country over the course of the past year. The United States is of course avoiding the situation altogether.

    On the matter of Mexico and Colombia’s loyaltys, Mexico has been feircy neutral on nearly all of the major political agendas since the early 1900′s.

  6. Guillermo says:

    Alejandro:
    I agree, with you. The use economical pressure from Cristina K. is not a good idea when the economical pressures in Argentina are starting to arise as the price of the commodities are heading to a long standing low.
    Argentina has still fresh memories from the Malvinas War and I do not think they will do anything as foolish as invade the islands again.
    My guess is that they just want to make life in the island as uncomfortable as possible, and as expensive as possible for the British goverment.
    Maybe the outbreak in the use of cocaine is consequence of the Economic success of Brazil. As they just passed UK as the 6th biggest economy. (A nice Christmas present to Dilma R).
    And lets not forget that in the pass 10 years 40 million of Brazilians changed from poor to lower middle class.
    This diplomatic row for the islands, was only possible because Brazil allowed it.
    On the other hand the clever policy of UK to bring young people from south chile to learn English in Malvinas is a nice way to win Hearts and Minds.
    The foreign office, showed herself as surprise about this diplomatic row. But I am sure they have at least a few months in advance the news about it.

  7. Tim UK says:

    The UK offered the Argies a 50/50 deal on resources but the Botox ridden
    Queen of Argentina turned it down. Let’s see them invade this time as it will be
    a joke , as for the tired Belgrano story the captain of the ship said he would have sunk it
    if he was the RN sub commander.

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