Since July, a total of 81 U.S. law enforcement officers have come here on three-week shifts to teach such basic police skills to their Mexican counterparts. The program, part of a $1.4 billion U.S. aid package for Mexico, marks a major escalation in American involvement in the drug war here.
It's also a first for Mexico, where the government has historically been reluctant to allow U.S. agents or troops on its soil because of animosity that dates to the 1846-48 Mexican-American War.
"This is really historic," said Noe Sánchez, academic director at the academy. "We've never had this kind of international cooperation before."
Well, almost never. While US trainers haven't previously worked in Mexico, American special forces officers at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, notoriously trained the core group that made up the original Los Zetas. They defected, trained hundreds of others in the same tactics, and became the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, later freelancing their bloody services to the highest bidder.
So what guarantee is there that we aren't just training the next generation of narco-crooks who will wind up fighting for the drug cartels? About 150,000 Mexican soldiers have allegedly deserted over the last six years, and it's not like there isn't a strong job market demanding their services at higher rates than the government can pay.
Can training underpaid police be enough when the cartels can hire them away for double the pay? I've got a nagging fear these 81 trainers will turn out to be this generation's equivalent of John Paul Vann and the advisers sent by Kennedy to Vietnam, dragging the United States into a conflict from which we can't disentangle ourselves. I understand why they're there, and a more professional police force is needed in Mexico, but corruption among Mexican police has much more to do with economics than training.
I was also a little displeased they hired a private contractor to do the training and surprised the Mexican government went for the idea. According to USA Today:
So far, 2,052 Federal Police have graduated from the training program, and an additional 1,051 are taking classes now, program administrator Rafael López said.
The $4.5 million program is funded by the U.S. State Department's Narcotics Affairs Section and run by Kaseman LLC, a Virginia-based contractor. It also brings in police from Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, Canada, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The U.S. government is also providing aid in the form of helicopters, X-ray trucks and computer systems. ...
Colombians make up the bulk of the other foreign instructors. Many are graduates of similar U.S. training efforts in Colombia, where Plan Colombia — a U.S.-backed program — has helped the government beat back leftist rebels and drug traffickers.
Ariel Lozano of the Colombian National Police says he went through basic training with a U.S. instructor four years ago. Now he's a teacher here.
Well, everybody knows how brilliantly Plan Colombia has worked - with $6 billion down the toilet and more drugs than ever on the market to show for our troubles - so this all ought to work out well, don't you think? Why do we keep repeating the same failed strategies, pretending, somehow, this time they'll work? This is truly America's hour for not comprehending.