Mexico: WikiLeaks cables treat “drug war,” FARC links

The left-of-center Mexican daily La Jornada announced on Feb. 10 that it had received some 3,000 US diplomatic cables from Sunshine Press Productions, which is presided over by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The cables deal with Mexican issues and provide “a window on the background and the tone of the bilateral relation between Mexico and the US,” La Jornada’s editors wrote. The paper said it “has taken on the task of reading, systematizing and treating [the material] journalistically.” (LJ, Feb. 10)

The first article in the paper’s WikiLeaks series dealt with some 100 cables from the US consulate in Monterrey, in the northern state of Nuevo León, from 2007 into 2010. The cables, written by Consul Luis Moreno and his successor, Bruce Williamson, show growing doubts over the efficacy of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s effort to control drug trafficking in the northern states by bringing in the military. A Feb. 26, 2010 confidential cable describes metropolitan Monterrey as “Zeta territory,” referring to the Los Zetas drug gang. “Zeta influence here is longstanding and widespread throughout local and state government,” Williamson wrote. The consulate’s sources said former Nuevo León governor Natividad González Parás (2003-2009) was involved with another drug trafficking organization, the Sinaloa cartel.

The consulate was also concerned with the heavy arms being used by the drug traffickers, some of them with markings for US military equipment, including an M26 A2 fragmentation grenade thrown in an attack against the Monterrey station of the Televisa television network, along with 21 other grenades found in a gang’s arsenal. Apparently the grenades were part of a 1990 shipment from the US to the Salvadoran military, which the US was then backing against the rebel Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN). (LJ, Feb. 10)

In response to the article, former governor González Parás denied charges that he was involved with the Sinaloa cartel. The current US consul in Monterrey, Nace Crawford, said that the cables from his predecessor were informal reports that do not reflect the policy of the US. (Prensa Latina, Feb. 11)

On Feb. 13 La Jornada wrote about a March 28, 2008 secret cable on alleged links between the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and leftist and criminal groups in Mexico. Media stories about FARC connections in Mexico picked up after four Mexicans, three of them students, were killed in a March 1, 2008, bombing raid by the Colombian military against a FARC camp inside Ecuadorian territory. The Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) started an investigation of the four dead Mexicans and the one surviving Mexican, Lucía Morett Alvarez, on March 3. Morett and the victims’ relatives said the students had been in Ecuador for a “Bolivarian Congress,” a meeting of Latin American leftists, and had decided to visit the FARC camp to observe it.

According to the cable, officials of Mexico’s Center for Investigations and National Security (CISEN) thought that in fact “[m]ost of the students attending the Bolivarian Congress in Quito shortly before the attack on the FARC camp were clearly political tourists.” A US agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), investigated charges that the FARC was supplying weapons to drug cartels or Mexican rebel groups like the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). These charges too did not hold up. “[T]here is no evidence that the FARC is supplying guns or ordnance to Mexican drug cartels, the EPR or any other groups in Mexico,” the ATF concluded, according to the cable. (LJ, Feb. 13)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 13.

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