Cablegate: Dhs Secretary Napolitano's Meeting with President Calderon

Published: Thu 18 Feb 2010 12:12 AM
DE RUEHME #0111/01 0490007
O 180007Z FEB 10
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 000111
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/17
REF: 09 MEXICO 3573; 10 TIJUANA 35; 10 MEXICO 518
CLASSIFIED BY: Gustavo Delgado, Minister Counselor, DOS, POL; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)
1. (C) Summary. Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
met with President Felipe Calderon on February 17 for over an
hour-long discussion that ranged in topic from aviation security
issues to counternarcotics cooperation. The bulk of the discussion
focused on the GOM's plans for Ciudad Juarez and the need for U.S.
assistance in trying to combat organized crime and lower violence
in the city. There is a new opportunity in Juarez to mobilize
civil society to make progress in dealing with the city's security
woes. President Calderon underscored that every measure be taken
to re-establish authority in Juarez and reclaim public spaces, and
engage communities to combat violence. He thanked the U.S. for its
support on developing the Juarez plan and asked for continued
engagement to share intelligence and operational advice. End
2. (C) The discussion opened with aviation security issues.
Secretary Napolitano conveyed her appreciation for Mexico's
coordination of a regional conference on aviation security, and
said that the Christmas day events in Detroit must be used to
increase global standards. Once terrorists enter international air
networks, they can move anywhere. Thus, we must build the capacity
of all countries. The International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) must help build capacity and raise standards, particularly
in the weakest nations. President Calderon said that there is no
alternative but to push for global cooperation and to increase
Latin America's capacity. Iran, he noted, is focusing on places
like Venezuela to establish operations. Bolivia and Ecuador are
also vulnerable. Calderon is also concerned that organized
criminal groups may try to establish contacts with terrorists. He
cited the nexus between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) and organized crime in Colombia as an example. Secretary
Napolitano responded that, although we have not seen evidence to
this effect, the potential is there, and this is all the more
reason to share information on passengers and screening technology,
as well as assist countries in their efforts to upgrade. Calderon
also noted that the Mexican Army (SEDENA) and Air Force are looking
for three dimensional radars to better detect illicit air traffic.
3. (C) Most of the rest of the discussion focused on the status of
Mexico's counternarcotics fight, the way ahead in Ciudad Juarez,
and how the United States can support these efforts. In response
to Secretary Napolitano's question on the status of Mexico's battle
against the cartels, Calderon noted that Mexico in the past several
months has seen positive results, including the December takedown
of Arturo Beltran Leyva in Cuernavaca (ref a) and the January
arrest of Diego Teodoro Garcia Simental ("El Teo") in Tijuana (ref
b). He said that Mexico's capacity for joint interagency
operations is improving, but that there are still some problems
with execution. Calderon highlighted the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) in
particular as more aptly handling intelligence, but also said that
the Public Security Secretariat's (SSP) Federal Police and SEDENA
are making progress. The President said that with U.S. support,
Mexican security services are obtaining more effective access to
counternarcotics targets.
4. (C) Calderon focused attention on the violence problem in Ciudad
Juarez. He said that Mexico finds itself in a critical moment
following the January 31 Salvarcar massacre of fifteen youths (ref
c). This is an opportunity, he continued, to mobilize civil
society and for the GOM to respond to public pressure that
something be done in the city. Mexico needs the right USG
counterparts, and Calderon asked whether the El Paso Intelligence
Center (EPIC) might fill that role. Secretary Napolitano responded
that EPIC can help to identify the right organized crime targets,
but that Mexico must move beyond military deployments and establish
a police capacity in Ciudad Juarez capable of policing every block
and street. Social services and rule of law must also be extended
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throughout the city. Secretary Napolitano promised that the USG
will assist in any way we can. Ciudad Juarez's struggles with
violence have become emblematic of the challenge confronting Mexico
and the menace of organized crime.
5. (C) President Calderon embarked on a discussion of the
historical and societal factors that led to Ciudad Juarez's record
levels of violence - up to 40 percent of Mexico's capital crime
occurs in Juarez or Chihuahua. Among these key factors, Calderon
said Juarez's position as a primary border crossing and rapid
growth have contributed to the crime quandary. The societal fabric
is weak. Tens of thousands of families moved to Juarez from all
over Mexico. Many of these new families were headed by single
mothers with unsupervised children who turned to drug consumption
and crime rather than school. Juarez's transition from a city on a
critical trafficking route to also being a main consumption center
has contributed to the growth in other crimes, including extortion
and kidnapping. Additionally, Calderon observed that up until
about three years ago, the Juarez cartel controlled the city. More
recently, the Sinaloa cartel has moved in to try to claim the
territory, which has pitted the two organizations against each
other and caused them to recruit gangs to fight their battles. A
comprehensive solution to the violence problem is complex, Calderon
said, and has to address the city's social ills, economic
development, health services, and the corrupt police and court
system. The President exhorted that Mexico and the United States
work together.
6. (C) Secretary Napolitano said that Ciudad Juarez's proximity to
the United States has drawn U.S. attention to the violence problem
and underscored the need to establish the rule of law and a real
civilian police presence. As the United States learned with New
York and Los Angeles, a visible police presence assigned to
specific areas is key, and people must be arrested for even minor
offenses to get criminals off the streets. Calderon noted that
Ciudad Juarez - with assistance - is in the process of renewing the
municipal police, and indicated that he favors the "Bratton
approach" to the city (Note: New York Transit Police Chief William
Bratton in the early 1990s applied a "zero tolerance" anti-crime
strategy based on the "Broken Windows" theory, which proposes that
attention to and a reduction in low-level crime will also help
prevent major crime). Calderon said the government must establish
real enforcement of the law and a sense of authority in Juarez.
The government cannot, as some advocate, make concessions on more
minor crimes, like illegal vehicles, to focus only on the major
7. (C) Calderon said Operation Joint Chihuahua only temporarily
reduced crime after the new troop and Federal Police deployment in
March 2009, but then crime exploded as kids fought each other on
the street to control the drug trade. Now, the GOM is making
important policy decisions. It has augmented the Federal Police in
Juarez and has given the SSP primary responsibility for security in
the city. The President underscored the continued need for an Army
presence, but noted that its role has shifted to mostly patrolling
the outskirts. Mexico needs to focus on building civilian
institutions, as well as developing a more robust intelligence
capacity. The GOM is launching a program to reclaim public
spaces like parks and soccer fields.
8. (C) Secretary Napolitano and Ambassador Pascual reviewed the
strong U.S. commitment to provide support. Representatives from
EPIC have been going daily to the Federal Police command and
control center to assess mechanisms to transmit operational
intelligence. A comprehensive planning session in El Paso the week
of February 22 will test every aspect of the GOM plan. The U.S.
will produce a complementary plan to provide support, including
ties to U.S. law enforcement agencies across the border. We will
also look at secure communications, training and vetting for
municipal police, building prosecutable cases, and planning support
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for a comprehensive GOM socioeconomic revitalization program.
9. (C) The discussion then focused on Mexico's southern border.
President Calderon said the USG can help as Mexico intensifies its
Southern Border Strategy. Secretary Napolitano noted that the
Guatemalan border's dense vegetation and terrain make patrolling
difficult and asked whether there are areas to the north in which
Mexico can create a choke point for inspections. Calderon
indicated that this, indeed, is how they are working, and Secretary
of Government Fernando Gomez Mont said that checkpoints are being
used at Mexico's more narrow isthmus. USG and GOM officials noted
the entrance of Somalis, Eritreans, and even Iranians through the
southern border. Calderon underscored that the use of technology -
including non-intrusive inspections of vehicles and radars - are
necessary for border control. He does not want to continually
employ the Army and other forces in such pursuits in fear that they
will be corrupted. Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations,
Patricia Espinosa, said that Guatemala is open to regional security
cooperation, but the Guatemalan government itself acknowledged that
its team is fragile. Calderon suggested that vetting and
checkpoints in Guatemala would be a start, and indicated his
concern about criminals smuggling people from Guatemala to the
northern border. These smugglers extort migrants with relatives in
the United States, and kill those who do not.
10. (C) The meeting concluded with a final discussion of Juarez and
cooperation on the capture of high-value counternarcotics targets.
Calderon asked for advice on police professionalization, and help
with all aspects of Juarez's municipal police apparatus. Secretary
Napolitano said that Juarez can still be economically competitive.
Its border location is a huge and unique asset. But security is a
major factor affecting investment. The federal and municipal
police must become effective first responders to public safety
concerns. Both the U.S. and Mexico have a shared interest, and we
committed to work effectively and rapidly to curb the violence in
Juarez and assert the state's authority to sustain the rule of law.
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