Cablegate: Scenesetter for Senator Specter's Visit to Mexico

Published: Thu 14 Aug 2008 06:42 PM
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AUGUST 17-19
1. (SBU) Welcome to Mexico City. President Calderon
recognizes the broad-ranging challenges his country faces and
has the vision and political will to address them
strategically. He has demonstrated resolve in implementing
his key policy objectives: improving security and the rule of
law, attacking poverty, and creating jobs. The U.S. and
Mexico have developed a solid set of institutional
relationships that allow us to work productively on most of
our priorities, including fundamental issues of homeland
security and North American prosperity. Those links are set
to expand. With the recent signing of Merida Initiative
funding, we are poised to significantly expand counter drug
cooperation and support President Calderon's robust efforts
to take down Mexico's drug cartels and improve public
Strengthening Law Enforcement
2. (SBU) President Calderon remains firm in his commitment
to aggressively target violence and criminality and continues
to sharpen the capabilities of his law enforcement team. In
the past year and a half he has: launched aggressive
anti-drug operations in ten states; raised pay for the
military; replaced numerous high-ranking federal police
officers in an anti-corruption campaign; launched a billion
dollar project to create real-time interconnectivity between
all police and prosecutors, as well as a unified national
crime database; and championed congressional legislation to
unify federal police forces and reform the judicial system.
3. (SBU) Calderon continues to strengthen law
enforcement cooperation with the USG. The GOM has ramped up
extraditions to the U.S. - 83 in 2007 and 55 so far this
year. The ongoing security campaign has reduced the broad
geographic range and legal impunity that the cartels have
traditionally enjoyed in Mexico, although progress is tenuous
and uneven. Addressing personal security challenges
continues to rank as the number one priority in public
opinion polls and there is general support among the Mexican
public and body politic for expanding bilateral cooperation.
The Merida Initiative is only the highest profile element of
an emerging pattern of cooperation across the board, which is
likely to take on momentum in coming years.
4. (SBU) It should be noted that Mexico's military plays a
fundamental role in the fight against organized crime, and in
particular narco-trafficking. Both Army and Navy, at the
direction of the President, have devoted significant
resources and manpower to drug, firearms and bulk cash
interdictions and eradication.
Stakes Rising for Security Officials
5. (SBU) The human price Mexico is paying remains high, with
over 2000 drug related killings so far in 2008, including
more than 200 police and military officials. A new
disturbing trend in recent months has been the slaying of
several senior police officials.
Combating Corruption
6. (SBU) Turning the page on Mexico's endemic corruption is
an essential component of President Calderon's
efforts to combat organized crime. The Public Administration
Secretariat (SFP), created by the Fox administration, is at
the center of this effort, coordinating a network of
inspectors general in GOM offices. In 2007, SFP reported
that the number of investigations conducted and public
officials dismissed
nearly doubled over the prior year. The Public Security
Secretariat (SSP) has undertaken an ambitious program
designed to eventually vet all 400,000 of Mexico's federal,
state, and local law enforcement officials. Mexico's
recently approved judicial reforms should make Mexico's
judicial processes more transparent and accessible. (see para
Meanwhile, Mexico's military seeks to deepen its cooperative
relationship with the U.S., including through the acquisition
of U.S. equipment, in large measure out of a desire to reduce
the potential for corruption. Deepening U.S. cooperation
through the
Merida Initiative will advance significantly the GOM's
anti-corruption efforts.
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Justice Reform
7. (SBU) In June, President Calderon signed into law major
judicial reform legislation to facilitate transition to an
oral trial system, give law enforcement officials broader
search and seizure authority, allow consensual monitoring of
telephone calls, and give police more responsibility for
conducting investigations. Effective implementation of the
legislation will make the Mexican system work more
transparently, expeditiously, and fairly. A share of Merida
Initiative support is tagged to assist Mexico with putting
this improved system into place.
Political Landscape
8. (SBU) The president faces a hardening political
environment here with the approach of legislative and key
gubernatorial elections next year. The window of
opportunity to effectively cooperate with a divided congress
on major reform initiatives, such as energy reform, is
rapidly closing. While security issues are paramount,
prosperity is also a key priority in the minds of most
Mexicans. If his programs and policies prove unsuccessful in
generating the kind of growth necessary to create more jobs
and reduce poverty, Calderon could quickly find himself
vulnerable to a reinvigorated political opposition.
U.S.- Mexico Relations
9. (SBU) The Calderon government has demonstrated pragmatism
in its posture toward the United States and bilateral
cooperation, particularly in law enforcement, has never been
stronger. However, the failure of immigration reform in the
United States was a political setback for the president. The
result is that he enjoys less political space in which to
openly cooperate with the U.S. on issues of mutual bilateral
Key Issues
10. (SBU) Key Issues During Your Visit Include:
-- Border Security: In FY 2007 there were a total of 1,073
incidents of violence that occurred at/or between the ports
of entry against CBP law enforcement personnel - a 28%
increase from FY06 to FY07. The southwest border
accounted for 99% of violent assaults against CBP law
enforcement personnel for FY07.
The protocols addressing border violence that we entered into
with the GOM in 2006 are now in place throughout the entire
U.S.-Mexico border. Through these protocols, joint Border
Security and Public Safety working groups meet locally on a
monthly basis to discuss incidents of and mechanisms to
address cross-border violence.
Since the protocols were instituted, the most prevalent
challenge has been the lack of GOM response to calls for
assistance and/or support. In response to the issue, SSP and
CISEN (Center for Research and National Security) have worked
closely to draft a plan of incorporation to make Mexico's
Federal Police an equal partner in the protocols.
The GOM is quick to posture on incidents of violence against
undocumented aliens. The occasional cases in which Border
Patrol agents (often acting in self-defense) injure or kill
undocumented aliens inevitably provoke a sharp reaction here.
Your visit can reinforce our message that we are concerned
by the violence that is an unfortunate byproduct of illegal
migration and that we need to work together to ensure safe,
orderly and legal border crossings, while stemming the flow
of illegal migrants. (Note: Mexico has similar problems with
violence along it's own southern border and Mexican treatment
of illegal migrants from Central America.)
-- Drugs: Mexico is a central partner in USG efforts to
combat drug trafficking and other trans-border threats. The
2000-mile border, with its high-volume ports of entry, and
Mexico's maritime waters and airports, are vulnerable to
criminal penetration. As much as 80 percent of all the
cocaine consumed in the United States transits Mexico.
Mexico is a major source of heroin, methamphetamines, and
marijuana, and the primary placement point for criminal
proceeds from the U.S. into the international financial
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system. While taking aggressive measures to tackle the
problem at home, President Calderon has also publicly urged
the United States to boost our own efforts to drive down
demand for narcotics and improve controls on arms, cash, and
precursor chemicals smuggled into Mexico.
-- Arms Trafficking: The smuggling of weapons into Mexico
from the U.S. represents a major concern for Mexican
authorities. Approximately 95 percent of the illegal arms,
including automatic weapons, smuggled into Mexico come from
the U.S. The GOM would like to see the U.S. take stricter
measures to better enforce existing U.S. legislation on arms
exports, which the GOM believes is fundamental to winning the
war against organized crime and drug trafficking.
ATF conducts all firearms traces of seized weapons in Mexico
and also assists the Mexican Army in cases of ATF
jurisdiction. E-Trace has been deployed to all nine U.S.
Consulate Offices in
Mexico. It is a means of electronically submitting a trace
request via computer to ATF's National Tracing Center and
providing the requester with a response within ten days. An
urgent trace can be submitted and received within 24 hours.
E-Trace is available to both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement
at these Consulate Offices. ATF is currently waiting for SSP
to sign an E-Trace MOU to deploy E-Trace via the SSP in all
32 Mexican States.
DHS continues to work on a number of important initiatives
with Mexico involving arms trafficking. ICE recently
initiated "Operation Armas Cruzadas" to combat the
smuggling of weapons from the United States into Mexico. As
part of this initiative, DHS and GOM agencies will partner in
unprecedented bilateral interdiction, investigation, an
intelligence-sharing activities to identify, disrupt, and
dismantle cross-border criminal networks that smuggle weapons
from the United States into Mexico.
Moreover, DOD through the Defense Attache has established a
close working relationship with the Mexican army relative to
seizures. Through "Operation Chuck Wagon" they assist the
army in identifying high caliber and military type weapons
(i.e.LAW rockets, RPG's and grenades).
-- Immigration: Far more than his predecessor, President
Calderon recognizes that immigration reform is a U.S.
domestic matter that is dependent upon U.S. congressional
action. He will seek progress in a low-key effort that
avoids making migration the dominant bilateral issue. He
places great emphasis on creating economic opportunities for
Mexicans inside Mexico. President Calderon has publicly said
that the
solution to the immigration problem is the responsibility of
the Mexican government, and must be done by bringing capital
to the workers in Mexico, rather than having Mexican labor
flow to capital in the United States. Nevertheless, the
Mexican public draws little distinction between documented
and undocumented migrants, seeing both as hard-working
countrymen who have been driven to the U.S. by domestic
economic adversity and U.S. labor demand. As such,
domestic political considerations require that Calderon and
his cabinet raise the issue with USG officials and that he
publicly criticize measures that most Mexicans find
offensive. Should the issue arise in your meetings with your
Mexican interlocutors, we encourage you to explain U.S.
domestic political factors affecting the issue of migration
and help your Mexican interlocutors maintain realistic
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