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12 December 2010


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Cato the Censor

People who live in glass houses, etc.

I don't think anyone in the US should point fingers right now, because from eveything I can see, we're basically a failed or failing state in every definition of the term.

The whole depressing situation reminds me of my favorite Mexican proverb:

"Lo que no se puede remediar, se ha de aguantar."

What can not be remedied must be endured.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. It is a failed narco-state which poses an increasing threat US.

But, of course, it is politically incorrect to say negative things about Mexico lest the "Hispanic"/"pro-Mexico" Lobby gets upset.

2. So how about this nugget:

"A cable from Washington to Moscow dated Feb. 14, 2009, said FARC computer files seized by Colombia's army indicated that Venezuela tried to facilitate arms market deals for the rebels. It expressed fear that missiles acquired by the FARC, which is mired in the drug trade, could wind up with Mexican cartels that "are actively seeking to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons."

3. Arguably, the clearest present danger to the US is not in the Hindu Kush. It is the threat from organized crime (OC) -- narcos, etal -- operating in Mexico and in Central America which have deeply penetrated the US already.

4. As international terrorist orgs begin to work with OC against the US the situation will become more grave.

5. I haven't noticed any media reports per Mexico which report the control of both major political parties by OC. [The "right wing", for example, deals with the Sinaloa Cartel to counter the PRI links to rival OC cartels, some analysts contend.)


I'm afraid "failed state" is far too mild a description. "Hell on earth" comes to mind. I find this site to be an excellent source http://www.borderlandbeat.com/ They are generally far more accurate than the mainstream media when it comes to translations and so forth.

R Whitman

Ther are 100 million Mexicans and about 98 million are getting on with their lives and have no contact with narco trafficers.

The situation in Mexico regarding illegal drugs is remarkably similar to US history during prohibition. When illigal drugs becme legal, as they eventually will, the Mexican criminal problem will resolve itself.

Mexico will go on its own screwed up way and still blame the US for its troubles. As a former Mexican President said "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States"


All is not well south of the border because practically everything is wrong north of it.


Kiracofe could add the US to the list of Western Hemisphere countries where drugs are out of government control. Despite billions spent annually on the 'drug war', can anyone here name a major US drug figure who has been prosecuted in the last 10 years? Yet these multi-billion dollar operations should be penetrable given all the secret, new surveillance technology and absence of constraints on its use.

Coincidence that major durg kingpins elude justice? Or have drug operations become a protected species, like the banks who launder money for them?

Like the financial crisis, I'll be convinced that the government is serious about combating drugs when numbers of big heads start to roll, some of them prominent figures who have been posing as upright citizens and "good businessmen."


Did you buy those cowboy boots with Our Lady of Guadelupe that you mentioned about 18 months ago?

Patrick Lang

Jackie et al

No. Black background, 9 1/2 D, Rocketbusters. A joke, sort of... pl

Patrick Lang

JL Campos

Silly. pl

Clifford Kiracofe


Many thanks for the Border Beat website. I was trying to be "diplomatic" with my mild adjectives. I worked on some organized crime/counternarcotics issues back in the 80s. The Mexican cartels were a subject of interest.

Over the years, I have covered some ground north to south in Mexico. On a visit in 2000, I had the opportunity to speak with then President Zedillo at the Mexican White House ("Las Pinas") and also to have meetings with presidential candiates Fox, Cardenas, and so on.

Personally, I very much like Mexico, its people, and its native and Hispanic culture.


Over the past few years on SST, I have often pointed out the presence inside the US of these foreign criminal organizations: Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, etal.

They are spread throughout the United States and naturally interface with "local" organized crime. Local OC can be protected by politicians and etc.

When I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico for Thanksgiving, I opened the morning paper to find the local sheriff had been arrested and charged with corruption after a federal investigation...

Mainstream media seems to think the massive penetration of the US by foreign OC to be a taboo subject, perhaps owing to the "Hispanic"/"pro-Mexico" Lobby?

The matter of organized crime and US politics at the highest levels is a subject of Gus Russo's "Supermob", for example. In the genre of non-fiction "crime" books, there are many to choose from at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Interesting Wikileaks cable per Russian mafiya moving in on Spain (and its politicians).


I think it turns on to how to define a failed state vs. an un-failed state.

Mexico has been convulsing towards a some sort of a modern state for over a century.

In the 20's and 30's the nascent Institutional Revolutionary Party, in control of the state, was hard pressed in the face of the Cristero Revolution. (or counter-revolution, depending on your vantage point)


The Mexican state and civil society are more like they were then than how we image they should be now.

Mexico keeps going while still susceptible to the rising of strong opposing centers of power, be they religious, political or criminal.


I don't think it can be considered a successful state by any means.
I read a internal economic breakdown on countries a year ago and Mexico was shocking...something like 80% of their population lives in poverty and something like 2% control most of the land and resources.
It was a while ago so my figures might not be exact but that was the gist of it.
I have some friends that moved to San Miguel because of taxes and because they could own a mansion for a tenth of what it would cost in the US..doesn't appeal to me...if I were going to select another country to move to permently it would probably be New Zeland. It seems half way stable and not too crazy.


Clifford Kiracofe ,

I would be interested to know more about what you know about the Russian Mafia. Some years ago I saw a FBI report on the Russian organized crime group that said they were now the largest (and internationally connected) crime mob in the US. Said they were more violent and than the Columbian drug lords were. According to what I read they were into everything from drugs, money laundering, organ trafficing, black market diamonds, sex slave trade, medicare fraud, etc,etc..and on top of that some were politically connnected to some of our politicans. In a subsequent article I read on this, Joe Lieberman and Schumer were mentioned as politicans they had an 'aquaintence' with in securing some government grants and contracts that they then scammed the taxpayers on.


Never fear, the solution is at hand: Sending in the US military to clean up the mess, followed by possible annexation.

See this: http://www.redstate.com/laborunionreport/2010/12/12/like-it-or-not-mexico-is-americas-next-afghanistan/

Where do these people come from?

Clifford Kiracofe

Some criteria anent "failed states." There is, naturally, academic debate but...:



35 or 40 years ago as a college student I used to take buses all over Mexico by myself during semester breaks. It was dirt cheap and an adventure for someone in their twenties. And I felt as safe or safer than in the US.

Is it now a failed state? Who knows, but imho if it's too dangerous to set foot across the border--and I believe it is--the state isn't functioning on any level near where it should be.

Sandy Goodman

I think the jury's still out on whether Mexico is a failed state. And may be out for a few more years --till it's determined whether the government's war on the drug traffickers is a success or -- sadly,as it looks to be now -- a failure. If the government can't get these drug gangs under control in three to five more years, then it's all over and I'll agree with Col. Lang that Mexico's a failed state. Maybe that's just wishful thinking. But history -- including what is or isn't a failed state -- is a matter of decades and generations, not just what started happening just four short years ago.

Clifford Kiracofe


Yes, New Zealand is quite appealing to say the least. A cousin of mine is frequently there fishing and speaks highly of the country and its fine people.

On the mafiya, I would suggest Robert Friedman, "Red Mafiya" available on Amazon as a good start.

One of the Wikileaks (Sept 8?) had a cable re mafiya in Spain.

There are a lot of open source materials available. In academics it falls under "International Organized Crime."

It has been a while since I worked on this issue but one thing to keep firmly in mind is the ethnic dimension.

Thus the actual "Russian" mafiya would be ethnic gentile Russians. There is also the Russian Jewish mafiya with links to the US and Israel. Then the Ukrainian mafiya, the Chechen mafiya, the Georgian mafiaya.

The Russian Jewish Mafiya with links to Israel and the US would be of particular interest. Of course, this is a politically incorrect topic..if not taboo. Gus Russo's "Supermob" documents interesting aspects of the US Jewish "mob": New York, Chicago, Vegas, LA and all that.

Charles I

Cal, see:

Comrade Criminal, by reporter Stephen Handleman, who has long reported on Russian crime, think he's a visiting scholar at Harvard, for a good start on your inquiry.


Would Mexico be a failed state if the military remained institutionally intact, albeit OC infiltrated, and managed to take over and regulate the trade with a reduction in reported violence to "tolerable" levels, and proceeded to facilitate the integration of the black economy with the surface world?

You know, a military dictatorship in a developing country? The drugs and the money are not going away.

Considering all the indexes at Clifford's Wiki FSI link, I'm becoming a little more empathetic to American concerns on your border, more sensitive to you by propinquity than sympathetic to the Mexicans, at some remove and more abstract to me.

Which pisses me off to no end, because as a bleeding heart liberal and, er, chronic, a lot of this blowback is, as Prohibition was before, your handiwork, your mania for the WAR on Drugs, that enriched and empowered OC.

But as an aging comfy Canadian, can't think of any finer country to live next t. Never mind propinquity, we are family, Canadians fortunate up here with you between us and reality.

Back at the Wiki, even absent the drug trade, there'd be a lot of pressure on everyone. What a mess for you deal with. I couldn't begin to prescribe at this point, aside from blithering about border control.

Good luck and Godspeed


Pat: Too bad you didn't get the boots. They were very nice looking.

Cal: In the early 70's we went to Mexico about 4 times. My dad worked for Braniff and we could fly cheap. Anyway, back then, dad said Mexico had a few rich, many poor and not much of a middle class. That sounds like what you described in your first post. Maybe if they had more of a middle class, they would be in a better situation. What poor kid wouldn't run drugs for a big payout?


I spent a night in an Atlanta area jail recently courtesy of GW Bush's TSA.

In the holding cell were,me,the CFO of a fortune 500 company, two very dumb rednecks, and 22 young black "gang bangers" all though only two where real"bad asses".

And one very small 20 year old Mexican kid with an elaborate tatoo on the back of his neck at the base of his skull. The black kids were terrified of this very small Mexican guy. They had determined he was a "hit man" for Mexican OC.

My point is failed states lead to mass uncontrolled migrations with the associated break down of the rule of law and violence.

The Goths and Huns penetration of Rome is an example.

My young Mexican cell mate is just a modern traveling verision of the Goths and Huns who ended up sacking Rome. He is a direct result of the turmoil in Mexico and on the Mexican border.

And most of you won't have to visit a jail cell to become aquainted with our version of the Goths and Huns in the next few years.

It's going to get real interesting real quick.I'd see if I could find a kevlar toga, if I were you.


Clifford and Charles.

Thanks for books info...going over to amazon to order now.



I can see the temptation if you are desperate and your own law enforcement is corrupt anyway.
I am in a Southeastern coastal state and we have a lot of Mexican workers, or did have until this recession hit, now they have mostly disappeared.
I am torn on the immigration issue because my experience with Mexicans has been good and I can understand their desperation to make a living which many can't do in Mexico. At the same time I agree the border situation is out of control.
It's too long to go into here but US plants locating in Mexico don't seem to have done much for the laboring Mexicans. Yankees can move there and live like Kings but most Mexicans stay poor despite the money influx. From what I have been told and observed on my few visits, society there pretty much resembles the pre Castro days in Cuba when Batista's elite ran the country.
I believe it was in 2003 when my friends moved down there and in that same year Mexican workers went on strike at an American owned plant and the Mexican government sent in armed military and helicopters to put the strikers down. Which appeared to me that the Mexican gov acts as a protector for US owned corps in Mexico...not for their own citizens.

Roy G

Mexico is both a security problem and a cautionary tale – a country with a huge wealth gap, where corruption has seeped into institutions at all levels, where the ruling elite is more concerned with consolidating power and money, rather than actual governance. It is as it is due to decades of pervasive corruption. This is what we have to fear.

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

The last thing I would want to be is complacent about the Russian mafia, or about links between government, 'legitimate' business, and organised crime in the former Soviet space. However, I would also be very cautious about taking for granted the accuracy of the claims by the Spanish prosecutor. The summary of the cable from the Madrid Embassy reads:

,A senior Spanish prosecutor investigating organised crime says Russia has become a virtual “Mafia state”, with the Kremlin using mafia bosses to carry out its wishes. Before his murder, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko told the prosecutor that the Russian intelligence services controlled organised crime in the country.

The late Alexander Litvinenko was not an impartial source – but rather a key member of the I/Ops operations run on behalf of the fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Around a month after his death, his Italian associate Mario Scaramella was arrested on charges of 'aggravated and continuous calumny' and arms trafficking, in relation to claims made by him and Litvinenko directly parallel to those recycled by the Spanish prosecutor.

These related to a supposed plot to smuggle RPGs in to assassinate Scaramella and an associate. Another claims the two made was that the Russian security services were conspiring with the feared Ukrainian mobster Semyon Mogilevich and the Camorra to hand nuclear weapons over to Osama bin Laden.

On the charges relating to the supposed murder plot, Scaramella made a plea bargain. A further calumny case brought against him by the Italian authorities, also relating to activities in which he was involved with Litvinenko, is now going through the courts.

It may be that the Spanish prosecutor has reliable evidence validating his acceptance of Litvinenko's claims. But I would certainly want to be confident that there was such evidence, and it had been objectively assessed, before accepting the rather remarkable claim that the FSB has managed to gain control over the Russian mafia.

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