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Brian

May 15, 2007, 5:00 AM

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Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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It is difficult to know whether the narcos are becoming desperate or, on the other hand, enboldened by the continuing course of events. Unlike the war in Iraq, the good guys cannot gradually withdraw from battle. This is a defining moment for Calderon's presidency and it is looking increasingly bleak.

http://www.latimes.com/...y?coll=la-home-world

Brian





tony


May 15, 2007, 9:28 PM

Post #2 of 20 (2680 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war? How can he win??

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Hello,

How can he win? Awhile ago he called on George Bush to do something
to curb consumption in the US. Just like all presidents
before him, Bush did not/ can not do anything. Calderon cannot
stop the US demand for drugs, therefor he will never be able to "win" any so called drug war. In the meanwhile more and more drugs are forced thru Mexico.

Tony

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


raferguson


May 15, 2007, 9:46 PM

Post #3 of 20 (2678 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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I would say that it is too early to tell how the war will go.

I think that the Mexican state has more power than the drug dealers, but corruption could limit the ability of the state to bring its power to bear effectively.

The one thing that is clear is that the situation is unstable, and it will have to get better or get worse. In some ways, this all started at the border, with a war between drug gangs that resulted in a substantial number of deaths. At one point, Nuevo Laredo seems to be the hotspot, but now we are seeing bold killings in several states.

It may be a year or two before we can judge how the war is going.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


Septiembre


May 16, 2007, 5:37 AM

Post #4 of 20 (2655 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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I don't think anyone is winning this "war" anywhere, quite frankly. I would say that the latest experiment in prohibition is proceding just like the last one, only on a larger scale.


Brian

May 16, 2007, 6:09 AM

Post #5 of 20 (2649 views)

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Re: [Septiembre] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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There is a real distinction between the ways the war on drugs is being fought in the USA and Mexico. In the USA, it is a combined effort of law enforcement at the local level combined with education and treatment programs. I don't really think that it has shown much in the way of results. As the Michael Douglas character in the movie Traffic said something to the effect that "the enemy is us". Mexico, on the other hand, is fighting a well-armed enemy in the form of the cartels. They are using the Army and its resources in an effort to crush the mafias. My original post was made out of a concern that the cartels tactics of intimidation and corruption through bribery could render the military as impotent as it has the police.

Brian




caldwelld


May 16, 2007, 6:15 AM

Post #6 of 20 (2647 views)

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Re: [Septiembre] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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My exact sentiments.
dondon


Ivester


May 16, 2007, 6:49 AM

Post #7 of 20 (2637 views)

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Re: [Septiembre] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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I don't think anyone is winning this "war" anywhere, quite frankly. I would say that the latest experiment in prohibition is proceding just like the last one, only on a larger scale.


I'd have to agree. I think the War on Certain Drugs in the US and MX will eventually end the same way the War on Alcohol ended in the US. We need to legalize the stuff, regulate it, tax it, and treat problem users through the medical system, not the penal system. However, the only politician in the US brave enough to point this out--Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico--was laughed at when he proposed this sort of thing. I'm afraid a lot more people north and south of the border are going to suffer before this solution becomes politically acceptable.


Brian

May 16, 2007, 7:45 AM

Post #8 of 20 (2620 views)

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Re: [Ivester] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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I think the War on Certain Drugs in the US and MX will eventually end the same way the War on Alcohol ended in the US. We need to legalize the stuff, regulate it, tax it, and treat problem users through the medical system, not the penal system.


If I recall correctly, Governor Johnson was referring to marijuana and other hallucinogenics. While these are certainly imported from Mexico and widely used in both countries, it is primarily the cocaine and methampetamine traffic that is the basis of the current crisis. Legalization of the former drugs, in my opinion, would have far less social consequences than permitting free use of the latter. The repeal of the prohibition of alcohol enabled many folks to at least legally become alcoholics with the unintended negative results to personal health, family relationships and employment. I'm not saying that coke and meth shouldn't be decriminalized but only that people be aware that as much damage that drunks do to society, it pales in comparison to what tweaking addicts (albeit legally so) would do to themselves and others.

Brian


(This post was edited by Brian on May 16, 2007, 7:47 AM)


Ivester


May 16, 2007, 9:41 AM

Post #9 of 20 (2593 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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If I recall correctly, Governor Johnson was referring to marijuana and other hallucinogenics. While these are certainly imported from Mexico and widely used in both countries, it is primarily the cocaine and methampetamine traffic that is the basis of the current crisis. Legalization of the former drugs, in my opinion, would have far less social consequences than permitting free use of the latter. The repeal of the prohibition of alcohol enabled many folks to at least legally become alcoholics with the unintended negative results to personal health, family relationships and employment. I'm not saying that coke and meth shouldn't be decriminalized but only that people be aware that as much damage that drunks do to society, it pales in comparison to what tweaking addicts (albeit legally so) would do to themselves and others.

Brian


I believe you're right about Johnson, and you're right to make this distinction. Add heroin to the harder class of drugs as well. The harder stuff should be much more aggressively regulated than the hallucinogens. But I still think we'd be doing ourselves less damage if we took even these much harder drugs out of the underworld and into the daylight of regulation and medical treatment.

To go back to Mexico specifically: Do any Mexican politicians seem to be offering solutions along these lines? Obviously most American pols do not, except for what are generally considered the libertarian fringes.


Brian

May 16, 2007, 10:34 AM

Post #10 of 20 (2579 views)

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Re: [Ivester] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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To go back to Mexico specifically: Do any Mexican politicians seem to be offering solutions along these lines? Obviously most American pols do not, except for what are generally considered the libertarian fringes.


Actually, the Mexican Congress has very recently proposed legalization of drugs but received a very swift and stern remonstration from the Bush administration and the idea was dropped. It seems however that talk is again surfacing about passing such legislation.

I lived in Tijuana back in the days when it was the hotbed of cartel activity. It has since spread throughout the Republic. I have had a keen interest in the phenomenon and always was frustrated by an inability to discuss it with others. The Mexicans were always very tight-lipped and politely turned the conversation to other topics. The gringos, on the other hand, invariably seemed like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. They were comfortable in their naievity and seemed to always fall back on the response that it is only those who are involved in the drug trade that suffer the negative consequences of it.

What I have often pondered and really never have seen much discussion about is the impact of drug money on the Mexican economy. Especially now with the restrictions of the Patriot Act, the billions of dollars in profit are being laundered locally. Newspapers have contained much discussion of "remittances" from the USA and their importance to the lives of so many Mexicans. But what about this form of remittance? In Tijuana during the 90's, whenever a new shopping center, luxury hotel or other lavish construction went up, it was understood that it was funded by the narcos. Now, such development is going on profusely in the interior of Mexico, and the gringos marvel at how wealthy so many Mexican families have become. Am I just being cynical or are they still being naive? Perhaps both, but I still wonder what impact it would have on the Mexican economy to take the profit out of the drug trade.

Brian


viejogatomalo

May 16, 2007, 11:05 AM

Post #11 of 20 (2567 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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What a wonderful, stimulating and informative subject. I agree that there must be some way to pull 'drugs' out of the criminal arena. It is always a grave mistake to try to legislate morality (for or against).
I believe Mexico should make up its own laws to deal with its issues without 'big brother' approving or disapproving.
'They' better not touch my morning coffee or evening cervesa or I will form my own cartel.


song_of_joy

May 16, 2007, 11:14 AM

Post #12 of 20 (2564 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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In Guadalajara, just after the Cardinal was assassinated, drug people left the city for a while. Federal police were called in to investigate the crime.

The economioc effects were evident -- trendy shops without clients, upscale clubs and restaurants that went out of business. There was much, much less money circulating in the city.


bluenoser55

May 16, 2007, 1:07 PM

Post #13 of 20 (2541 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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My question is what are they going to do now, immediatley ?
Whatever changes they decide to make over the longer term will take years, if at all. More importantly is there the political will to bring about those types of sweeping reforms.

I wonder what the statistics would be if they were able to calculate the amount of money the Cartels put into the economy as opposed to the amount from tourism.

Canadian stats show a huge decrease in Canadians going to Mexico.

Right now it seems the cartels have the upper hand. The Government needs to do something now, I don't know what, but something.

Is the immediate solution to bring in more troops or what?

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Brian

May 17, 2007, 6:03 AM

Post #14 of 20 (2482 views)

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Re: [bluenoser44] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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Is the immediate solution to bring in more troops or what?

Here is an article from today's LA Times on this very question:

Mexico takes a risk using soldiers in drug war Critics say they fear that Calderon's use of the ill-prepared army could corrupt 'the last honest institution.' By Sam Enriquez and Héctor Tobar, Times Staff Writers
May 17, 2007
The front line click to enlarge APATZINGAN, MEXICO — Flying low over the colonial City Hall, the helicopters of the Mexican army are supposed to make people feel safe. But to many here, they are simply a reminder of the war unfolding around them.

The police chief was wounded in an ambush Tuesday and resigned Wednesday, the second top law-enforcement official to flee this agricultural city tucked in the mountains of southern Michoacan state.

At least five drug-trafficking organizations operate in and around Apatzingan. The city rapidly has become the front line of President Felipe Calderon's campaign to fight back against the traffickers by deploying army troops.

Critics say the army is illprepared for the mission, and that Calderon is putting Mexico's most trusted security force at risk.

"It's like a poker game and Calderon has put the army on the table," Antonio Ramos, a longtime local newspaper and television commentator, said in an interview. "The risk now is corrupting the last honest institution, the army. The truth is the army doesn't have the capacity to win."

The mayor here sees little alternative.

"We're waiting for the level of safety that we all want," Antonio Cruz Lucatero said. "Not just in our city, but the whole state and the whole country."

In January, the president donned an army cap and jacket and came to Apatzingan to tell soldiers stationed here that they were fighting a "head-on battle against crime."

Nearly five months later, on May 7, soldiers from the 51st Infantry Battalion battled a group of traffickers holed up in a home in the city center. Four suspected traffickers were killed in the gun fight, in which soldiers also used grenades.

The battle was captured on video and broadcast later on national television.

Since winning a narrow victory in last year's presidential election, Calderon has made the war on drugs the centerpiece of his presidency. He has sent troops to Michoacan and neighboring Guerrero state, and to the border cities of Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo.

However, Calderon may stretch the army's resources and could undermine its popularity. Mexico's military boasts more than 200,000 troops, but only 90,000 are combat-ready, said Javier Ibarrola, a military analyst in Mexico City.

About 30,000 troops are employed nationwide in the anti-drug campaign. Ibarrola and other analysts say the army would be hard-pressed to get more soldiers into the effort.

The army is straining under the budgetary pressures and inefficiencies that affect many institutions in Mexico. Low wages lead to a high rate of desertion. One in eight soldiers simply packs and up leaves every year.

Meanwhile, many question the legality of using the military to carry out police functions.

"The army has declared a de facto state of siege in these places," said Raul Benitez, a professor specializing in security issues at American University in Washington. "It has done so without the necessary judicial steps required for a state of siege…. But the truth is the Mexican government doesn't have any other operations force it can send in."

Mexico's official human rights ombudsman on Tuesday called on Calderon to refrain from using the army in the anti-drug efforts, citing dozens of alleged human rights abuses, including rapes, attributed to soldiers in Michoacan.

Army troops have been stationed in the southern Mexican state since December, after Mayor Cruz Lucatero said he needed help combating a force of hit men working in the city for the Gulf cartel.

Troops began to patrol the city. This week, they were unable to prevent the attack on Apatzingan's interim police chief, Jose Alfredo Zavala Perez, who was shot and wounded Tuesday in an ambush.

On Wednesday, shortly after being treated and released at a local hospital, Zavala Perez resigned, leaving the police force leaderless.

Zavala Perez had replaced a chief who walked off the job last July. The old chief, under a cloud of suspicion of links to drug bosses, announced that he was taking a "vacation," from which he never returned.

"The attack was not against me, personally," Zavala Perez said in a radio interview Wednesday after fleeing Apatzingan with his family. "It was an attack on the institution."

Such vacuums of power in local police departments have become common in Mexico. Since 2005, dozens of police chiefs and officers have abruptly resigned after encounters with drug traffickers in several Mexican states, including Veracruz, Tabasco and Campeche.

Federal police have been of little help. The Federal Judicial Police force, notoriously corrupt, was disbanded. An effort to remake the federal police is only beginning. The elite Federal Investigation Agency was created in 2001, but has not shed that corruption legacy, analysts said.

Last week, the president created the Corps of Federal Support Forces, an army unit specializing in antidrug efforts. The unit will answer directly to his office.

"Everyone who studies this problem has the same diagnosis," said Benitez of American University. "It's urgent to professionalize all aspects of police work: prevention, investigation, and intelligence against organized crime. The police need more resources, better training and better technology."

But police and judicial reform probably will take years to produce results. Until then, there is the army, an institution that struggles to retain its personnel.

Lieutenants and other low-ranking army officers earn monthly salaries ranging from $400 to $600. Many desert or resign each year to join private-sector security companies. A few join the traffickers.

"A drug-trafficking group can afford to pay a soldier several times what he earns in the army," said Jose Luis Piñeyro, a Mexico City specialist on military issues. "There isn't a government in the world that can compete with what drug traffickers can pay."

To keep its elite Special Forces troops from deserting to the drug cartels, as several dozen have done, the army recently raised the monthly salary for soldiers to about $1,100. Piñeyro said the cartels simply doubled that amount as the standard pay for their own "troops."

Drug-trafficking groups have been drawn to the area for its fertile soil and convenient geography. The same qualities once made the area the center of an agricultural boom in the 1970s, when thousands of acres of cotton provided work. Water is plentiful, and the port at Lazaro Cardenas is only 90 minutes away.

The boom crops are now opium poppies, which are processed into heroin, and marijuana. Cocaine shipped by sea from Colombia passes through by the ton, U.S. drug experts say. Chemicals from China are cooked into methamphetamine at clandestine labs.

Rugged hillsides and protection money have made drug enforcement impossible. Traffickers take advantage of long-standing family relationships, as well as ambitious residents with few other means of getting ahead.

The so-called Sinaloa, Juarez, and Milenio cartels form one alliance in the region, the Gulf cartel and La Familia another.

"They are people with little education or culture but a lot of money," columnist Ramos said of the traffickers. "Their fights are emotional. They are motivated by anger and pride. And they fight like people with empty stomachs."

One such fight was the May 7 battle on Melchor de Talamantes street. On Wednesday, half a dozen city police stood guard over the one-story brick house where three men and a woman died in the shootout with soldiers.

Locals say that the freshly painted houses in the neighborhood are evidence of the illicit money that is pouring into Apatzingan.

Armando Bustos, the city police officer in charge of guarding the crime scene, said he had lived for seven years in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, working at a car wash and living with an uncle, before returning home to Mexico.

"Am I scared? The whole world is scared," Bustos, 28, said in English. "I went to Alhambra High School and I'd go back there in a minute if I could. I think I will. This is too freaking dangerous."

*


sam.enriquez@latimes.com

hector.tobar@latimes.com







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caldwelld


May 17, 2007, 7:01 AM

Post #15 of 20 (2464 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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There are virtually no politicians on either side of the border with the internal fortitude to take on the institutions that have grown up around "the war on drugs". It will take a grass roots groundswell of public opinion to swing this argument in favour of legalizing even the softer ones. There are organizations out there trying to get such a groundswell going but with all of the government sponsored "anti drug" propaganda out there it is an uphill battle to say the least. It is interesting to think about what would happen if the same amount of effort were directed to pulling out of the "war on drugs" as is being given to pulling out of Iraq. And would the balance of lives lost be? Well, we can dream can't we?
dondon


bournemouth

May 17, 2007, 10:14 AM

Post #16 of 20 (2424 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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Read this story from the Arizona Daily Star - the story is all over the web - but this paper is in the border area so I see it as better coverage - the "wild west" exists but in modern terms of drug dealing/distributing:

http://www.azstarnet.com/news/183500


Oscar2

May 17, 2007, 10:47 AM

Post #17 of 20 (2420 views)

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Re: [caldwelld] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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 The mainstream has for years permitted, endorsed and distributed lethal drugs to millions which hardly come under scrutiny because megabuck pharmaceutical companies lobbying strengths allows the populace to continually pick “your poison” legitimately, as does tobacco, alcohol etc. industries.

The “drug war” is an industry in of itself. It compels the belief that if they “pulled the plug” on the drug war (legitimized) the world would go to hell in a hand basket. If, and I say if, drug wars went to the pharmaceutical companies and marketed at 10 cents to a dollar a pop with ongoing warnings and education, the under world profit and related crime would rapidly dissolve.

There is a mountain of legal public pharmaceutical drugs (Poisons if you will) which will continue to annihilate its users as does alcohol, overeaters etc. of which an outgrowth of peripheral industries have provided jobs (again) as needed. The monies spent on armies, policing and preoccupation with annihilating drugs by force (fire with fire) can be spent more effectively. Better spent such as the on going educational programs for overeaters, birth control, tobacco, drugs etc. which can and has made great positive strides on certain parts of this planet.

The “War on Drugs” industry is alive, well and moving the direction of which indirectly keeps the doors of profit wide open. “War on Drugs” lobbyists stay the course. Avarice and power provide the main players with legitimate “War on Drugs” targets while the backdrop of crime (fire with fire mentality) and all that goes with it thrives and stays alive. Those humans that fall by the wayside are just considered collateral damage in this fine, fine service of buying that very special elusive dream toward civility. 2 centavos.

(This post was edited by Oscar2 on May 17, 2007, 10:56 AM)


caldwelld


May 17, 2007, 5:52 PM

Post #18 of 20 (2370 views)

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Re: [Oscar2] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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And worth the price Oscar. Agree entirely.
dondon


jennifer rose

May 29, 2007, 8:58 PM

Post #19 of 20 (2219 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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It's all over the press, both Mexican and Estadounidense. You can't help reading about it, but how has the drug war affected your life in, or visits to, Mexico?


Brian

May 30, 2007, 12:43 PM

Post #20 of 20 (2160 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is Calderon winning or losing this war?

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It's all over the press, both Mexican and Estadounidense. You can't help reading about it, but how has the drug war affected your life in, or visits to, Mexico?


Well, it has affected my life in that current events seem to be a repeat of the past in Mexico but on a wider scale. Any thinking person would find this both discouraging and depressing. Formerly, the narcos ruled only border areas like Tijuana. The flaunting of money by the Arellano Felix brothers in the discos attracted the offspring of the rich many of whom came be known as "narcojuniors". Now it is the sons of wealthy Monterrey families. Two chiefs of police in TJ were assasinated when I lived there. Now it is almost a daily occcurrence somewhere in Mexico and increasingly in the wealthier towns. The governor of VeraCruz found it necessary to employ bodyguards for his school-age children. Those "escoltas" were assasinated by the cartels. Now, we learn via Carol Schmidt's blog, that the chief of police of San Miguel de Allende has recently fired 32 of his officers because of involvement with drugs and corruption. That is good news, but the disquieting news is that, due to threats against them by the terminated former officers, he has found it necessary to assign bodyguards to his children.

So, to answer your question, I haven't recently been close to being caught in the crossfire of an "ajuste de cuenta" as I was in the nineties. I do, however, have a concern that Mexico is poco a poco beginning to resemble Colombia with the murders of so many police, politicians and perhaps even judges. I am deeply concerned that opposition politicians have passed a resolution asking Calderon to pull back the troops in this war with the drug cartels. Even the Mexican Human Rights Commission is demanding that the army not be used in this struggle. The cynic in me wonders whether some drug money has helped influence these last two phenomena.

And as far as this being "all over the press", at least in Mexico, freedom of the press is being sorely tested not by the government but by the intimidation of the cartels. If journalists could dig for stories and name names it would be one thing. Instead, in fear for their lives, many have asked that their bylines be omitted from publication. So, that is the dynamic which influences what you and I are able to read in the Mexican press.

I don't feel as good about Mexico as I did in the past. I wish I could say otherwise.

Brian


(This post was edited by Brian on May 30, 2007, 2:33 PM)
 
 
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