Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Power in Mexico

The question bears repeating: Who holds power in Mexico? Authority? Legitimacy?

With Force, Mexican Drug Cartels Get Their Way

"Mayor José Reyes Ferriz is supposed to be the one to hire and fire the police chief in this gritty border city that is at the center of Mexico’s drug war. It turns out, though, that real life in Ciudad Juárez does not follow the municipal code.

"It was drug traffickers who decided that Chief Roberto Orduña Cruz, a retired army major who had been on the job since May, should go. To make clear their insistence, they vowed to kill a police officer every 48 hours until he resigned.

"... Mr. Orduña eventually did as the traffickers had demanded, resigning his post on Feb. 20 and fleeing the city.

"Replacing Mr. Orduña will also fall outside the mayor’s purview, although this time the criminals will not have a say. With Ciudad Juárez and the surrounding state of Chihuahua under siege by heavily armed drug lords, the federal government last week ordered the deployment of 5,000 soldiers to take over the Juárez Police Department. With the embattled mayor’s full support, the country’s defense secretary will pick the next chief.

"Chihuahua, which already has about 2,500 soldiers and federal police on patrol, had almost half the 6,000 drug-related killings in all of Mexico in 2008 and is on pace for an even bloodier 2009. Juárez’s strategic location at the busy El Paso border crossing and its large population of local drug users have prompted a fierce battle among rival cartels for control of the city...

"Nothing is surprising in Chihuahua anymore. Gunmen recently shot at one of three cars in Gov. José Reyes Baeza’s motorcade, killing a bodyguard and wounding two agents. The drug cartels routinely collect taxes from business owners, shooting those who refuse to pay up. As for the Juárez mayor, who has made cleaning up the notoriously corrupt police department his focal point, the cartel recently threatened to decapitate him and his family unless he backed off..."


Mexican Troops Reinforce Besieged Border City

"CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Nearly 2,000 Mexican soldiers poured into Ciudad Juarez on Saturday to restore law and order to the country's most violent city, which has been ravaged by drug gangs...

"President Felipe Calderon's military operation is supported by the United States, which is concerned the violence could destabilize Mexico, a key trading partner, and spill over the border..."

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