Thursday, October 29, 2009

Training tomorrows narcos on the US taxpayers' dime: Importing Plan Colombia to Mexico

Seeing the USA Today story, "US training bolsters Mexico's war on drugs" (10/28), I couldn't help but think the headline writer perhaps failed to grasp the irony.

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.


doran said...

"Why do we keep repeating the same failed strategies, pretending, somehow, this time they'll work?"

I'm not convinced that they are not working. But, I don't accept the theory that the "war on drugs" is intended to stop drug smuggling.

David C said...

When was America's hour for comprehending?

Anonymous said...

How many of you wrote your congressman and senators and asked them to not vote for the Merida Initiative instead of complaining about it now on this blog?

Anonymous said...

Would that be the same Congressmen and Senators who have been doing whatever it is they please forever?

What do you think really happens to that mail?

With any luck at all a third party will emerge, of the people, by the people, for the people, and kick the rest of their worthless butts out, and then if that doesn’t work kick their butts out.

We are stuck for now, but from the looks of things a few politicians may start getting the message soon.

doran said...

I have a great deal of confidence in my Senators, Cornyn and Hutchinson, and my Rep, McCall. I am confident that they can be expected to ignore my letters, faxes, petitions and emails in the future, as they have in the past. I am also confident that with some few exceptions, they share nothing in common with my politics. I am also confident that, given a choice between supporting a non-violent, intelligent approach to drug issues, on the one hand, and a police-state oriented approach, on the other, they will go for the latter.

Anonymous said...


That's spelled McCaul, not McCall.

The democrats snuck Merida in a war supplemental spending bill. My congressman, republican Ralph Hall, voted against Merida.

HR6028 H.R. 6028 [110th]: Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and...

Voting Yes
Democrats Republicans Independents
203 108 0

Voting No

22 84 0

Nay TX-1 Gohmert, Louis [R]
Nay TX-2 Poe, Ted [R]
Nay TX-3 Johnson, Samuel [R]
Nay TX-4 Hall, Ralph [R]
Nay TX-5 Hensarling, Jeb [R]
Yea TX-6 Barton, Joe [R]
Nay TX-7 Culberson, John [R]
Nay TX-8 Brady, Kevin [R]
Yea TX-9 Green, Al [D]
Nay TX-10 McCaul, Michael [R]
Yea TX-11 Conaway, K. [R]
Nay TX-12 Granger, Kay [R]
Nay TX-13 Thornberry, William [R]
Nay TX-14 Paul, Ronald [R]
Yea TX-15 Hinojosa, Rubén [D]
Yea TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre [D]
Yea TX-17 Edwards, Thomas [D]
Yea TX-18 Jackson-Lee, Sheila [D]
Nay TX-19 Neugebauer, Randy [R]
Yea TX-20 Gonzalez, Charles [D]
Nay TX-21 Smith, Lamar [R]
Yea TX-22 Lampson, Nicholas [D]
Yea TX-23 Rodriguez, Ciro [D]
Nay TX-24 Marchant, Kenny [R]
Yea TX-25 Doggett, Lloyd [D]
Nay TX-26 Burgess, Michael [R]
Not Voting TX-27 Ortiz, Solomon [D]
Yea TX-28 Cuellar, Henry [D]
Yea TX-29 Green, Raymond [D]
Yea TX-30 Johnson, Eddie [D]
Nay TX-31 Carter, John [R]
Yea TX-32 Sessions, Peter [R]

Anonymous said...

Well Doran, it looks like if you supported Merida your congressman voted against it. Did you support the Merida Initiative?

doran said...

Anon, are you suggesting I should take as fact something posted by someone with a name like "Anonymous"?

Anonymous said...

Despite the war on drug rhetoric, the US govt. continues to back druglords...makes ya wonder if the war on drugs is just about wacking the CIA's competition...


"According even to an official UN report, opium production in Afghanistan has risen dramatically since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001. UNODC data shows more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004-2007), than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan, than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This is no accident.

It has been documented that Washington hand-picked the controversial Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun warlord from the Popalzai tribe, long in the CIA’s service, brought him back from exile in the USA, created a Hollywood mythology around his “courageous leadership of his people.” According to Afghan sources, Karzai is the Opium “Godfather” of Afghanistan today. There is apparently no accident that he was and is today still Washington’s preferred man in Kabul. Yet even with massive vote buying and fraud and intimidation, Karzai’s days could be ending as President."

Anonymous said...

Flashback: EU Officials: Investigate CIA Plane Used
in Renditions Caught with 4 Tons of Cocaine

Anonymous said...

Anon, are you suggesting I should take as fact something posted by someone with a name like "Anonymous"?

I would think you would be smart enough to check the link that was posted so you could see the house roll call vote on the funding to Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Get a brain Doran

Anonymous said...

link got munched
joke not funny anymore
so sorry

Anonymous said...

Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The efforts of the American government to reduce teh drug traffic seems only to increase it.

It makes us wonder is the government truly a group of men who are themselves ungoverned?

doran said...

Anon, I usually do not spend much time bickering with people on this blog who haven't the intestinal fortitude to use their own names. But this is just too good to pass up.

And, it may explain why you hesitate to identify yourself.

Yes, I have the smarts to check the link you posted. I also have the smarts, which you apparently do not, to read what is posted at that link.

First, Rep. McCaul is identified as a far-right Republican who is a follower. He "...tends to cosponsors the bills of other Members of Congress who do not cosponsor McCaul’s own bills." Sounds about right.

Secondly, there is nothing there about Dems "sneaking" the bill into a war supplemental spending bill.

Thirdly, this H.R. 6028 never passed the Congress.

This bill was intended to assist Mexico and other nations of Central and South America to reduce organized crime and narcotics trafficking. What are we to conclude from the votes of so many Republicans against it: That they oppose reducing the influence of organized crime and narcotics trafficking?

Back to the basic issue: It doesn't matter who voted how on this bill. The approach set out is generally ineffective. Has been, always will be.

As for writing my Senators and Congressman: I consider it to be a waste of time, for the most part.

doran said...

Anon, thank you for the link to Checking it out nudged me to Rep. McCaul's web-site, where I found this nice little item.

On May 16, 2008, Rep. McCaul put out a news-release/propaganda statement applauding Sen. Hutchison's efforts to secure $100 million for federal agents and border sheriffs, while linking her effort to his own effort to secure $500 million, "...part of his two pronged military strategy to take out the cartels in Mexico and stop the violence from spilling over into the United States."

"And I believe," he said, "we must ...take the fight to the cartels on the Mexican side."

McCaul seemingly agreed with Hutchison that  "The Merida initiative will help Mexico
combat the challenges of narco-trafficking...."

That was on May 16, '08. On June 10, '08, the House voted on H.R. 6028, which was intended to "help Mexico combat the challenges of narco-trafficking", and Rep. McCaul voted against it. His web-site does not feature a public statement for his Nay vote on something he had publicly supported less than a month earlier.