FNS: Mexico: The Politics of a State Meltdown
January 20, 2014
Mexico: The Politics of a State Meltdown
As a massive federal police and military deployment gains momentum in the Mexican state of Michoacan, polemics and debate shroud the first major such operation undertaken by the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
At stake in the campaign is not only the reassertion of state power, but also the strategic control of the Pacific coastal port of Lazaro Cardenas, one of the key portals of the Asia/NAFTA economy, as well as the productive mountains and farmlands whose products and people travel a network of highways leading across Mexico and into the United States.
With upwards of 10,000 federal forces now deployed, along with perhaps equal numbers of gunmen from the Knights Templar syndicate and opposing, civilian self-defense groups, Michoacan is the scene of a “low-intensity war” that will soon witness drones, massive telecommunications intercepts and commando operations, predicted Gerardo Rodriguez Sanchez Lara, director of the private Mexican Human Security firm.
On Mexican television, commentators openly compare Michoacan with Syria, Colombia and the balkanized states of the former Yugoslavia.
Defining Michoacan a “failed state” in all senses, pundit Eduardo Healy called for considering the suspension of civil liberties. He also lashed out against the state’s “out-of-control” teachers, who have been waging a year-long struggle against the Pena Nieto administration’s education reform.
Michoacan has very active and militant teacher and other social movements, and it remains to be seen if civil society organizations will now be in the cross-hairs of intensified government operations officially targeted at organized crime.
While the Mexican government has yet to adopt the measures advocated by Healy, proposals for an iron-fist strategy are part of the public discourse.
A deeper analysis of the Michocan crisis reveals a distinctly Mexican one with strong if not overriding U.S. influences that have integrated the local economy into a export flow of products and people northward to the great market beyond the Rio Bravo.
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