Friday, December 05, 2008

Interview with Biden: Bush eroded Americans' rights

In an exclusive interview of Sen. Joseph Biden by Frank Levine, published October 19, 2008, just prior to the November election, the vice-presidential candidate promised that the U.S. Constitution will once again protect the rights of all.

By Frank Levine
Roswell Daily Record

In an exclusive interview with the Roswell Daily Record, vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden, (D-Del.), said that one of the first items on his agenda in a Barack Obama administration will be to restore Constitutional rights - "including every American's right to privacy and protection against unwarranted government intrusions" - eroded, he said, during the current Bush administration, often under the pretense of protecting national security.

"I will keep the government out of our lives, out of our homes, and off our telephones," said Biden, condemning the current level of governmental access to the private lives of millions of Americans. "I will restore our Fourth Amendment rights that have been either attacked or diluted during the Bush administration."

He said the restoration of Constitutional rights to Americans will not limit the country's effectiveness or collective resolve in fighting the current war on international terrorism.

As one of the longest and most bitterly contested presidential campaigns nears its end, Biden took a few minutes in a telephone interview Friday to focus on some of the issues that have been all but ignored in the day-to-day media coverage of the candidates.

There was just one light-hearted mention of "Joe the Plumber" during the interview.

Biden, who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1972, knows Washington well, and fully understands the ebb and flow of political power.

Top on his administration agenda, and also linked to the Constitution, would be to restore balance between the three branches of government, by dismantling the "unitary executive" theory promulgated by the current administration that has, according to Biden, severely limited congressional or judicial intervention in the exercise of near absolute presidential power.

"The current president uses it (unitary executive power) to tap your phone, hold secret hearings, hold people without trial indefinitely, and undermine the foundation of our laws through the elimination of habeas corpus," he said. "There are no restraints on that power, as it is currently applied."

Habeas corpus is the long-standing judicial principal that entitles a criminal defendant the right to demand the state "produce the body" of evidence that would justify a defendant's incarceration. Without it, a defendant must be freed.

Under the current administration, Biden said, defendants can be held indefinitely without charge and with no recourse, "simply on the president's say so."

Officially, the unitary executive theory relies on the so-called "Vesting Clause" in Article II of the Constitution that states, in part: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." The theory is more understood when the clause is considered in conjunction with the so-called "Take Care clause that gives the president the right to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

This interpretation, according to Biden and others, has strictly proscribed the powers of the Congress and Judicial branches of government in recent years, giving the president powers heretofore unseen - with a few exceptions during time of war that were later nullified by judicial or executive review.

Biden, who is on a whirlwind campaign tour of New Mexico, also visited Mesilla, Friday, where he reportedly warned supporters that the presidential campaign is likely to get ugly in its final days prior to the Nov. 4 election.

During his wide-ranging interview with the Daily Record, Biden focused on the bread and butter issues of the Obama campaign, including health care, clean energy and the war in Iraq.

He said that new ways must be found to diminish our country's dependence on foreign oil, especially when the United States produces only 4 percent of the world's oil production, yet consumes 25 percent.

"Of course we must still drill for oil," he said, "but we must also seek a rational energy policy that develops alternative sources of energy."

He said that a major investment, of up to $15 billion "up front" is initially required to explore and develop alternatives.

Earlier, Biden told a massive crowd in Mesilla, "We are going to reclaim our place in the world. We will end this war in Iraq. We will end it responsibly."

Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., and lived there for 10 years prior to moving to Delaware. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972, and became the fifth-youngest senator in U.S. history. He was re-elected to the Senate five more times. He is current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I know what is planned as to the draw down of forces in Iraq," he said. "The plan mirrors almost exactly what Barack has been saying from the beginning."

Drug violence may jump border

The following article was published in the Roswell Daily Record on September 3, 2008.

By Frank Levine

The horrific violence exploding less than three-hours away from Roswell in Mexico is on the verge of jumping the border and spreading north - threatening not only innocent civilians, but area law enforcement officers as well, according to studies by the National Drug Intelligence Center and a prominent private sector intelligence source.

In recent weeks, dozens of Mexican law enforcement officers have been killed and tortured by alleged members of drug cartels fighting for control of drug transit points into the United States - especially in the Ciudad Juarez sector, El Paso's proverbial "sister city."

Two weeks ago, there were 40 homicides in Juarez, raising to more than 900 homicides in the city since the beginning of the year, according to Mexican government officials and news reports.

Already there are signs that the drug war in Mexico is spilling across the border. Killings and kidnappings, especially along Texas' I-35 corridor, from Laredo to Dallas, and in the Phoenix area, have been linked to cartels in recent years, but the latest threats appear to represent more than isolated incidents and are focused near the Texas-New Mexico border areas in what the NDIC describes as a "High Intensity Drug Transportation Area."

Last week, The Associated Press reported that the El Paso Police Department had received credible information that Mexican drug cartels have authorized their members to conduct targeted killings in the United States. In response, Customs and Border Protection agents were put on high alert and security has been stepped up all along the border, according to, a prominent online publisher of geopolitical intelligence, based in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, however, an El Paso police spokesman said that the original threat story had been blown out of proportion, and was based on an unverified intelligence shared among law enforcement agencies "that fell into the wrong hands," and that people in New Mexico and the surrounding area should not be overly concerned.

His view, however, is becoming more and more isolated.

In June, the AP reported that 15 individuals, including U.S. law enforcement officials had been targeted in West Texas and New Mexico.

"Attacks ordered by Mexican drug cartels are nothing new," according to an Aug. 26 Stratfor analysis. "A team of cartel hit men carried out a tactical assault conducted on a home in the Phoenix metro area June 23, gunning down a Jamaican with ties to the drug trade. On Dec. 14, 2007, four men carried out a home invasion in Tucson, Ariz., when they entered a Border Patrol agent's home, firing at him in what appeared to be an attempted assassination. The Border Patrol agent returned fire, however, causing the four men to flee. These particular incidents did not receive - or perhaps merit - much response from the media or federal government. By contrast, the increased publicity following the El Paso warning changes the dynamic."

In an April 11 situation report, the NDIC stated that Mexican "drug trafficking organizations," or DTOs, "operate in at least 195 cities throughout the United States and in an additional 129 cities." law enforcement officials reported the presence of Mexican DTOs with affiliations to at least one of the four principal Mexican drug cartels that supply illicit drugs to U.S. markets - Federation, Gulf Coast, Juarez and Tijuana cartels.

Much of the current violence in northern Mexico, especially in the Juarez area, has been attributed to a bloody turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

The threat to U.S. law enforcement is significant, when considering that elements within the cartels have heavily armed paramilitary units consisting of former Mexican army soldiers, some of whom were trained in special operations - often by their U.S. Army counterparts at Ft. Benning, Ga.

According to the NDIC report, New Mexico has four cities clearly identified with Mexican drug cartels. They include Albuquerque and Columbus, Deming and Las Cruces; all but Albuquerque identified with the Federation. The report did not identify Albuquerque with a specific cartel, possibly because more than one operates in the area.

Although Roswell was not mentioned in the report, Highway 285 traversing southeastern New Mexico, was noted in a separate NDIC report as a part of "high intensity drug trafficking network."

According to last week's Stratfor analysis, money is driving the violence northward into the U.S., especially in the so-called "front-line" border states, including New Mexico.

" ... There are economic incentives for the cartels to extend their operations into the United States. With those incentives comes intercartel competition," the Stratfor analysis said, "and with that competition comes pressure on U.S. local, state and, ultimately, government and police functions. Were that to happen, the global implications obviously would be stunning ..."

In its separate "2008 Drug Market Analysis," the NDIC clearly stated, "This (cartel) violence could spill into the HIDTA region, since DTOs may more readily confront law enforcement officers in the United States who seek to disrupt these DTOs' smuggling operations. Violence has extended into the HIDTA region in the past when traffickers felt pressure from U.S. law enforcement. For example, a number of armed encounters between Mexican traffickers and U.S. law enforcement personnel occurred on the U.S. side of the border in 2006.

The report continued: "On two separate occasions heavily armed units of traffickers appeared on the banks of the Rio Grande River east of El Paso during smuggling attempts, preventing law enforcement officers from pursuing couriers, who fled across the border into Mexico.

"Although these confrontations did not escalate into violent shoot-outs, U.S. law enforcement officers were prevented from apprehending drug couriers because of the manpower and cache of weapons possessed by Mexican traffickers. It is quite likely that this type of violence will escalate because DTOs are increasingly contending with drug enforcement operations in Mexico as well as the United States."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Editorial Comment by Frank Levine:

Finally, after more than two decades of self-imposed exile in the West, Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who pushed the once-powerful Soviet Union into the abyss, suddenly has "buyer's remorse," after realizing he was blinded by the glittering materialism of Western capitalism, and duped by its political leaders.

Could it be that he sees the writing on the wall? Could it be that the ship he jumped to is now sinking faster the ship he left? Could it be that after more than two decades, he finally understands the true human cost of capitalism and wants to spend his remaining years in Russia, seen not as a traitor, but as a misunderstood world figure?

Little can now be done to resurrect Gorbachev in the eyes of the Russian people.

He betrayal of the worldwide socialist movement-after more than a century of bloody sacrifice by hundreds of millions of workers around the world--is seen as one of the greatest human tragedies of the 20th Century -- with consequences seen extending far into the future.

The "new world order" envisioned and promoted by Gorbachev as the salvation of the Soviet people and Eastern Europe, marked not the death of communism as many believe; but the abandonment of the world's working class to predatory neo-liberalism, and unchecked neo-imperialism.
He believed, apparently, that the only way to compete against the Western emerging technologies, was to join the West at the dinner table never realizing that he, and the lives of hundreds of millions, was the menu.

The following story is provided through the Novosti new service.

MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - Promises made by U.S. leaders cannot be trusted, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph published on Wednesday.

"The Americans promised that NATO wouldn't move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War, but now half of central and eastern Europe are members, so what happened to their promises? It shows they cannot be trusted," he said in Paris.

He also said that Washington's claims that a missile defense system it is planning to build in central Europe was aimed exclusively at countering the threat from so-called rogue states could not be believed either.

The Pentagon's missile shield deployment plans continue to be a major bone of contention in relations between the U.S. and Russia. Moscow considers the project a threat to its national security.

Gorbachev said the missile shield plan jeopardized world peace and could lead to a new Cold War.

He continued that that "erecting elements of missile defense is taking the arms race to the next level. It is a very dangerous step".

"I sometimes have a feeling that the United States is going to wage war against the entire world," the former Soviet leader said.

"The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every U.S. president has to have a war," he concluded, also saying that the world had squandered the chance in the decade after the Cold War to "build a new world order."

Thursday, April 03, 2008



AUSTIN, Texas (IPN)-- The U.S. military is secretly deploying hundreds of highly trained technical and special operations soldiers in areas near Venezuela, in an bold move to further undermine President Hugo Chavez and his regional allies.
According to anonymous military sources, the U.S. is funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into the area to influence regional politics; while creating economic and social pressure on the Chavez government--especially during Venezuela's upcoming local and regional elections.
"An assassination or coup attempt against Chavez is not out of the realm of possibility in the next few months," the sources say. "There is a great fear that when Fidel Castro dies, Chavez will go all out to support the Cuban government against possible civil unrest fueled by direct and indirect U.S. intervention."
U.S. intelligence officials worry that Chavez will rush military and financial aid to Cuba--possibly even "volunteers" -- to bolster the Communist government. Their worries are compounded by the fact that Chavez has embarked on a massive weapons procurement campaign over the past 18 months, "in anticipation of what?," the sources say.
Furthermore, they say, his coziness with Iran could open the door to the infiltration of terrorists into the region, with Venezuela acting as a springboard for terrorists launching reprisals against U.S. interests if Iran is attacked.
The assassination is Chavez has become a secret priority of the Bush administration that believes Chavez a potential facilitator 0f an eventual terrorist attack on U.S. soil, if not an outright threat to U.S. dominance in influence in the region.
Already, the CIA and U.S. military has begun a massive campaign to undermine the government of Bolivian socialist President Evo Morales, through the secret massive support of opposition groups and a U.S. inspired movement to create autonomous provinces. The moves are seen as protecting U.S. interests in the country, especially as it affects the oil and natural gas production, deemed too important to be left in the hands of an "out of control" socialist political leader.
Meanwhile, the recent attack against Colombian guerrillas in Ecuador is further escalating regional tensions, as intelligence allegedly gathered in the aftermath of the attack which killed at least 24, indicate that Chavez is supporting the Colombian guerrilla movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, (FARC).
The alleged massive support of the FARC by Venezuela is seen by U.S. officials as support of a "terrorist organization," capable, some believe, of gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, and therefore justifying U.S. military and CIA intervention under the Bush administration's post 9-11 "War on Terrorism" policy.
Already there have been reports that 120 pounds of uranium has been found in a FARC safe house near Bogota, reportedly located with the help of computers captured following the attack on the Ecuadorian FARC base. But much of what has been reported by the international and Colombian corporate media has been dismissed as little more that a sophisticated disinformation campaign aimed at further undermining the Chavez government and its allies.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mexican Army falters under influence of drugs...

U.S.- inspired militarization of drug war seen as growing security threat...

By Frank Levine
Hispanic Universal/InterPress

This story was originally published by Hispanic Universal and posted in February, 2007. It will be followed by a story on the Mexican oil industry and the growing number of attacks on it by Mexican revolutionary forces.

AUSTIN, Texas--The stench of death rises above the Rio Grande, chilling the social and political landscape from Mexico City to Washington.
It comes from a horrific bloodbath between rival drug gangs and their “partners in crime”-- elements within Mexico’s local, state and federal governments –all fighting to control billions of dollars generated by the massive illegal international drug trade.
The slaughter has claimed over 2,000 lives in the past year, and nearly 200 in January alone, including law enforcement officials, priests, journalists, army soldiers, politicians, popular singers, actors, cartel soldiers and scores of innocents. Hundreds are simply “missing,” their bleached bones, strewn from the Guatemalan border to Tucson, San Antonio and beyond.
Even as Colombia slid to the gates of Pablo Escobar’s hell in the 1980s, the drug connected death toll averaged about 3,500 annually, barely less than double that of Mexico’s current pace. And although the Mexican Government reports deaths seemed to diminish in late 2006, a series of horrific killings recently have propelled the rate to meet or exceed the 2006 toll.
In Mexico, as in Colombia, the rich and powerful die just as easily as the poor. Heads of policemen are found on rooftops and fences in Acapulco, dozens of tortured and charred bodies are found scattered in Nuevo Laredo and Juarez. Some victims are found in pieces strewn along the highways.
Last week, 12 men wearing army fatigues stormed two police stations near Acapulco, murdering seven police officers and two secretaries. They reportedly left a videotape behind, announcing that they “don’t give a s--- about the federal government…and this is our message.”
Both the mayor of Acapulco and the head of Mexico’s Tourism Department lamented the impact of such violence on tourism and business.
Acapulco Mayor Felix Salgado, who is surrounded by 12 body guards, 24 hours a day, believes his days are numbered and unless massive help arrives soon, all hell will break loose.
“The situation is out of control and the only way to stop the violence is with federal troops...but their presence here will only hurt tourism and the economy.”
Although the carnage also continues along the northern border – in the Monterrey area alone, 14 police officials have been murdered in recent months—Acapulco remains the focal point of some of the most horrific violence, as it straddles a vital drug route from Colombia to the Mexican Pacific Coast, where Colombian pure cocaine and heroin join Mexican heroin, marijuana and methamphetames on their final push into the U.S. market.

New president opens military offensive against cartels with mixed results...

In December, newly installed Mexican President Felipe Calderon deployed nearly 25,000 national police and soldiers to fight “narcoterrorism,” in the states of Guerrero, Baja California and Michoacan, among others; but so far there is little to show for his efforts other than piles of bodies, the extradition to the United States of a few alleged drug kingpins, and the continuing, if reserved, diplomatic, military and law enforcement support from the United States.
Calderon also allowed the extradition of the leader of the Gulf cartel, Osiel Cardenas Guillen. The move by Calderon was praised as “unprecedented” by U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, but it required that Calderon break a long-standing Mexican doctrine in the face of bitter political opposition. The move was finally made after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled –apparently under considerable pressure—that extraditions of prisoners facing a life sentence in a foreign country, “was not cruel and unusual punishment.”
Last year Mexico extradited a record 63 suspects to the United States, many of whom were connected to the drug trade. But the greatest victory against the cartels came in August, when Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, leader of the notorious Tijuana cartel was captured by the U.S. Coast Guard on the high seas off the coast of La Paz, Baja California. He awaits trial in San Diego on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to import drugs, and money laundering, among others. His brother Eduardo reportedly now runs a weakened family empire besieged by its cartel competitors and authorities.
As in Colombia, the cost of Mexico allowing such extraditions could be very high, creating a political backlash, and an extremely dangerous climate for courts and government officials, including the president.
Meanwhile, last week, Calderon received the traditional Mexican Army oath of loyalty in the annual “Army Day” ceremonies held in Tula. In grateful response, he increased the average soldier’s pay from $317 per month to $474 per month, but it will do little halt the influence of drug cartels on the military, especially when compared to the average $3,000 a week a drug cartel soldier earns shooting real and imagined enemies.
“The challenges the country faces today are enormous ... and for that reason, as supreme commander, I have ordered a redoubling of efforts in the job of protecting people and the nation," Calderon said. He then announced additional troop deployments to the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, and promised increased interdiction efforts in the states of Guerrero, Durango, Sinaloa, Coahuila and Baja California—especially in the Tijuana area where there were reportedly 399 drug trafficking related murders last year.
Although the 160,000-strong Mexican Army has maintained much of its traditional honor and has remained somewhat aloof from the pervasive corruption of nearly every other government institution, there are numerous reports that the drug cartels are recruiting and corrupting elements within the Mexican armed forces, posing a serious security threat for the nation, and by extension, U.S. interests.
“It is in the interest of the United States and Mexican governments that the Mexican Army be vaccinated against narcoterrorism,” said one high-ranking Mexican official, who prefers not to be identified. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to ensure complete loyalty within the military, as witnessed by the recruitment of soldiers and former soldiers into paramilitary groups; however, a livable wage paid to the average soldier is a good start, and should reduce some of the temptation.”

Mexican Army loses elite soldiers to cartels big bucks recruiting campaign

In recent weeks, U.S. officials released redacted intelligence assessments indicating that narco-corruption is spreading rapidly within the Mexican Army, and that new paramilitary groups like, “Los Negros” and “Los Numeros,” have also recruited members from the military, many of whom were once trained by their government and the U.S. to fight drug trafficking. These new groups are positioned to challenge the weakened Gulf cartel led by Guillen and his “Los Zetas”—a bloody assassination squad created in the late 1990s by former army special operations and intelligence veterans to control the Nuevo Laredo-Laredo smuggling routes, referred to as "plazas.”
The newest paramilitary groups, meanwhile, are reportedly working for the Sinaloa or Sanely cartel, headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, joining his group of paramilitary assassins, “Los Pelones.” Since his escape from prison in 2001, he has extended his organization's control of the Mexican cocaine market and is now locked in a death grip struggle with a weakened Gulf cartel for dominance along the border.
Meanwhile, the Juarez cartel, said to have once controlled more than 14 percent of the cocaine trade to the U.S., has fallen into disarray following the arrest of its financial wizard Ricardo Garcia Urquiza. The cartel’s weakness opened opportunities for competing cartels to grab larger shares of the profits and control more distribution points. “El Chapo,” was the first to challenge the Juarez cartel, and to begin wrestling control of the Nuevo Laredo plaza from the Gulf cartel, precipitating the latest violence there. The violence soon spread to Acapulco, as the battle over control extended from border distribution points to the points of procurement and entry.
Acapulco’s role has become a natural cocaine disembarkation point as it rests on a beeline north from Buenaventura, Colombia, were many of Colombia's drug trafficking organizations ship pure cocaine north through relatively un-patrolled waters, circumventing the heavily patrolled Caribbean areas. Speed boats pick up the drugs at sea, then transfer them to Acapulco, where they are loaded onto trucks destined for Nuevo Laredo and other crossings to the U.S.
Nuevo Laredo is just one of many entry points; but to dominate the market, control must also be established over the reception point—in this case, Acapulco. Unfortunately, the port is not big enough to handle the avarice of more than one cartel at a time.
Meanwhile, the greatest fear is that the cartels will continue to “paramilitarize,” further destabilizing the country’s political and social climate.
“Further paramilitarization….will propel the violence to a whole new level,” says Mexican drug expert Luis Astorga, a professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City. “If this trend continues, Mexico will indeed be another Colombia at the doorstep of the United States.”
Ironically, it was the U.S. government in 1996 that cajoled the Mexican government into pushing the relatively uncorrupted Mexican Army into a central role in the war against drug trafficking. At the time, many senior Mexican Army officers protested that the army was ill-prepared to participate in what is essentially a police matter -- especially when it is confronting sporadic guerrilla activity in remote areas of the country. They worried that the temptation of billions of dollars passing through their country could be a corruptive influence upon soldiers—and they were right. Furthermore, they complained that the Mexican Army’s structure and lack of modern equipment, combined with insufficient transportation capabilities, made it difficult to deal with multiple rapid deployments over a wide area.
Even to the most optimistic observers, Mexico appears to looking more and more like Colombia – it emerging as a narco-state where political and military power is split between the drug cartels, a U.S.-backed government alienated from the masses, unrestrained paramilitary formations, and a mounting Leftist insurgency, portrayed as “narco-terrorists” by the U.S. and its dwindling number of hemispheric allies.
Unofficially, the Mexican government security reach extends far beyond its formal military and law enforcement formations; but it is focused primarily on gathering intelligence on political and criminal threats, rather than drug trafficking. Some experts estimate that the Mexican government’s combined paramilitary and military forces actually total more than 500,000; with about half that number described as “supportive paramilitary cadres,” often working secretly and independently as extrajudicial “muscle,” attached to local law enforcement units.
In opposition are an estimated 10,000 individuals described as active in the drug trade, with another 30,000 considered “amateurs.” Second and third tier participation boost the total to more than 100,000. Furthermore, there are millions who wink and nod—through popular music and word—at the lifestyle of the drug trafficker, undermining the government’s ability to gather intelligence against the cartels. Leftist guerrilla formations, meanwhile, reportedly total about 7,000 to 10,000 combatants in various levels of competence on all fronts; with an additional 40,000 to 60,000 described as “active non-combatant” supporters.
“It is ironic that the success of the Mexican Army against insurgencies during the 1970s and 80s was due in great part to its human intelligence capacity, and its ability to infiltrate and destroy radical groups from the inside,” says one former Mexican intelligence official. “If the people weren’t arrested, tortured, killed or disappeared, they were paid off to abandon their cause…The technique was extremely successful. Now, however, the cartels have too much wealth and power to be bought off so easily, and in many parts of the country the community, either tacitly supports the traffickers, or is afraid to get involved.
Although the government can report some recent success in the dismantling of two major cartels, the tables are being turned, as it is now the Army that is being infiltrated and compromised by very sophisticated drug traffickers and their highly trained and heavily armed paramilitary units.”
It is estimated that the Mexican cartels earn more than $50 billion a year, with a sizeable portion of the money used to purchase more cocaine and heroin from the Colombians, and weapons from the United States and the international market. The more than 7,000 weapons confiscated in 2005 from traffickers—most were traced back to the U.S. — have been described as “a drop in the bucket,” by one Texas law enforcement official.
Along the way, hundreds of millions of dollars are siphoned off to law enforcement officials, politicians, and anyone else potentially blocking the drug flow. Nearly 10 percent of revenues are reportedly used to pay off officials. If true, that means that possibly $5 billion a year is lining the pockets of corrupt officials—including elements within the army—on both sides of the border.
Little can be done to stop it, as many officials are offered the "plata o plomo," choice between money and cooperation, or a bullet to the brain.

New world order creates more disorder in Mexico...

Some researchers believe at least part of the growing social violence and the expanded role of the illegal drug trade is due, in no small part, to the economic and social fallout of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its overall negative impact on Mexico’s socioeconomic fabric—especially in rural areas where compesino farmers and small collective farms simply can not compete against international agro-corporations.
Mexico’s slide into chaos is but the latest chapter in a long and sangrienta chronicle that erupts at least once every century.
Where once there was class warfare, cynical exploitation, greed, and competing ideological visions, there remains now little more than greed and exploitation, revitalized, in part, by a neoliberal ideology that defines the poor masses as somehow deserving of their fate.
Mexico’s internal strife differs only in scale from the pre-revolutionary era, having burgeoned in direct proportion to the country’s population. In some ways, few of the underlying factors have changed, as there remains a pressured middle class, predatory foreign capital investments, urban youth seeking expression, working class and rural poor in spasmodic anti-government violence, intellectuals dreaming of change, and a handful of guerrillas hurling their lives against walls of a powerful and corrupt system.
Mexico’s neoliberal economic and social agenda under successive Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National Action Party (PAN) presidencies, perceived the country’s masses only in terms of its exploitive potential for the benefit of a ruling oligarchy and its allied foreign interests.
This unrestrained entrepreneurial spirit in the pursuit of wealth and power, regardless of its impact on Mexican culture and humanity, only cheapens and alienates life. From the wanton pollution and destruction of the Mexican environment, to the pollution of the Mexican spirit, neoliberalism has given narco-violence, and for that matter, all violence, a fertile ground upon which to flourish.
“With so many desperate people, a dog-eat-dog mentality has placed many at odds with their government and themselves,” says Jacobo Sanchez Villareal, a small business owner in Nuevo Laredo. “Our traditional respect for human life has been undermined by a virulent media propaganda extolling the virtues of individualism over societal needs, profits over life, materialism over culture and humanity. Believe it or not, the drug traffickers –even if they are criminals and ruthless killers— are considered heroes by a very large segment of society, as they often share their wealth with the poor, while at the same time, challenging the corrupt and hypocritical governments on both sides of the border.”

Monday, February 19, 2007

U.S.-backed terrorists escape justice

Editor’s note: This story was first published in 2004, and is reprinted here with the permission of La Prensa newspaper of Austin, Texas. The story was written long before the detention and arrest of an important Cuban-exile terrorist. Strangely, the United States government is not holding him on terrorist charges for the bombing of a civilian aircraft and the deaths of dozens of innocent victims, he is in protective custody at a secret location for immigration law violations, presumably not being tortured and not contemplating suicide. The following is an outline of how the United States has reached cosmic levels of hypocrisy in its so-called “War on Terrorism.”

By Frank Levine

It was steamy and partly cloudy over Barbados when the DC-8 Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 roared off the Seawell (Grantly Adams) International Airport at 1:23 p.m., Wednesday, October 6, 1976, and quickly climbed to 16,000 feet with 73 passengers on board. Suddenly, a bomb, disguised as a camera, exploded in the rear toilet of the aircraft, rocking the plane and sending smoke and flames through the passenger cabin and into the flight deck. The pilot radioed to clear a runway at Barbados for an emergency landing. Already 30 miles away from the airport, the plane slowly turned back to the island, losing altitude quickly. Seven minutes after the blast, witnesses on the island saw the plane three miles off shore trailing smoke as it came in from the West, barely 500 ft. above the ocean. It was obvious the pilot was struggling to control the craft as it started to climb, and then stalled at about 1,000 feet, before plunging into the ocean two miles off shore and just 10 miles from the airport. All aboard, including the entire Cuban fencing team, died in the crash.
The two men who had planted the bomb in
Barbados, Freddie Lugo and Ricardo Lozano, fled immediately to Trinidad, where they were soon arrested. The pair freely admitted their guilt, claiming they worked on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, then headed by George Bush, Sr. They also implicated two other men, alleged CIA operatives Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, both of whom were arrested a few days later in Venezuela. Posada Carriles escaped from Venezuelan custody and was subsequently arrested in Panama years later for allegedly plotting to kill Fidel Castro at an international conference. Again, he was eventually released under mysterious circumstances by an outgoing Panamanian president. (Posada Carilles would later be arrested in the United States for “violations of immigration laws” and is currently being held at a secret location supposedly near El Paso, Texas, not as a terrorist, but as an “illegal alien.”) The U.S. government refuses to allow his extradition to Venezuela to face terrorism charges because Mr. Carriles reportedly feels he might be tortured or killed in Venezuelan custody. So far, all those who have admitted responsibility for the bombing and numerous other terrorist acts have escaped justice thanks, in part, to their links to U.S. intelligence, the Bush family, and their Cuban-American “friends” in high places.

AUSTIN, Texas--The George W. Bush’s war on terrorism and, for that matter, the war against terrorism by previous administrations, including that of his father, have developed a very narrow view of who is a terrorist and under what conditions terrorism is acceptable.
The hypocrisy of the U.S. government policy toward terrorism is stunning. While the U.S. was “outraged” at the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 107 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 perished, there was absolutely no outrage over the bombing of the Cuban flight by Cuban exiles acting on behalf of the U.S. government.
So while Libyan intelligence officers, supposedly acting on behalf of the Libyan government, were tried and convicted for the Pan Am bombing; Cuban CIA operatives, also accused of mass murder on behalf of the U.S. government, are declared heroes and walk free.
The bombing of the Cuban flight, by any definition, was an act of outright terrorism.
So while the U.S. government, its allies and “friends,” hunt down real and imagined “terrorist” enemies around the world, the Bush family believes that terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder, as both father and sons have willfully and intentionally allowed terrorists to roam free.
And you don’t have to look very far to find them: the airline hijackers, bombers, assassins, mass murderers and torturers. Most live in tranquil luxury protected by the U.S. government. Many continue to ply their trade in death and destruction with impunity, while the U.S. government and the current administration pay lip service to human rights and “democracy” around the world.
Yes, our terrorists live in cities and towns across America. They work next door, across the street, around the bend. Generally, they are not Moslems or of Middle Eastern extraction—they are, for the most part, Cubans, with a spattering of Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans.
The Cuban terrorists have burrowed deep in the hearts of Cuban American communities—Miami, Elizabeth, N.J., New York, Los Angeles, and points in between. But the soul of the Cuban terrorist movement, however, remains in Miami, the arrival and jumping off point in the United States for the vast majority of Cuban immigrants.
For more than 45 years the Cuban terrorists have formed secret cells with the singular purpose -- destroying the Castro regime and stifling any dissent against their policies in and outside of the Cuban exile community.
Their story begins, of course, with the Cuban Revolution, and the blind rage against Fidel Castro that blackened the hearts and minds of many Cuban exiles. Counter-revolutionary forces were created, many with the backing or tacit support of U.S. intelligence agencies and their “friends” in the international business community.
Immediately following the Revolution, these counter-revolutionary forces were uniting, not only in Cuba, but as exiles in the United States. Among them were Alpha 66, founded in 1961, and still active; Omega 7, founded in 1974; The Cuban Nationalist Movement, 1960; Movimiento Insurreccional de Recuperacion Revolucionaria (MIRR), 1959, and the Commando of United Revolutionary organizations (CORU), among many others.
Their level of activity and overall record puts Al Qaeda to shame. For example, between 1968 and 2000, according to
Miami police reports, there were an estimated 70 major acts of violence perpetrated by Cuban terrorists -- many of the acts, including assassinations and bombings were carried out against other Cuban exiles in retaliation for having the nerve to suggest that maybe a dialogue could be developed between the United States and Cuba.
These so-called “Freedom Fighters,” backed by powerful U.S. intelligence and Cuban exile community leaders, are not above killing innocent bystanders. They are not above blowing up planes in flight, or bombing and shooting other Cuban exiles who dare to question their direction or authority. In recent years, they have bombed tourist hotels in Cuba and assassinated civilians and government officials throughout the Americas. They even attempted to assassinate heads of state daring to open trade or diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The Bush family connections to these terrorists are direct and deep, winding back to when George Bush Sr. was head of the CIA in the 1970s. It flowered when Jeb Bush linked up with former Batista intelligence officer Camilo Padreda while Bush was chairman, and Padreda was finance chairman, of the Dade County Republican Party -- even though it was widely known that Padreda, along with Hernandez Cartaya, had been indicted for allegedly embezzling $500,000. The charges were eventually dropped after the CIA indicated Cartaya had been working with the agency.
A few years later, Padreda pleaded guilty to defrauding a U.S. government agency of millions of dollars. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, just couldn’t seem to avoid Cuban-exile money linked to terrorism. He reportedly worked for Miguel Recarey, a man alleged to have been a participant in the CIA attempts at assassinating Fidel Castro during the 1960s and early 1970s.
According to recently published accounts, Bush was once employed as a “real estate consultant” and allegedly received $75,000 for “finding” a new location for the Recarey-run International Medical Centres. Of course, the company never actually moved to the “new location.”
By 1985, the younger Bush and his father, then vice-president, helped arrange for IMC to provide free medical care for Nicaraguan “Contras” attempting to destabilize the Sandinista government. Recarey later fled the United States after being charged in a massive Medicare fraud scheme. He remains a fugitive.
Finally, Jeb Bush became campaign manager for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL), who successfully pushed for the release of Cuban exiles convicted of terrorism and, as recently as a few months ago, called for the assassination of Fidel Castro.
She allegedly lobbied former Florida Gov. Connie Mack, Jeb Bush and his father, to release convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch from federal custody and grant him permanent U.S. residency, over the objections of the Department of Justice.
Bosch was originally convicted in 1968 of firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter docked in the port of Miami. He was also convicted for threats made against heads of state for trading with Cuba. Released from Atlanta Federal Prison in 1972, he soon violated his parole by leaving the country.
By 1974, Bosch was arrested again in
Venezuela in connection with two bombings; but the United States declined extradition. He has also been linked to the 1976 plot to assassinate Henry Kissinger in Costa Rica. Finally, after dozens of alleged terrorist acts, he was taken into custody for parole violation, applying immediately for political asylum in the United States.
In 1992, Orlando Bosch received an administrative pardon from George Bush Sr., thanks in part, to the intervention of Jeb and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
He lives unrepentant in
Miami, along with a number of his freed murderous colleagues, claiming the bombing the Cuban plane was simply “an act of war.”

URGENT UPDATE: A federal judge in El Paso denied a request by Luis Posada Carriles to be released pending a decision by immigration officials on which country could accept him following his deportation.
Judge Phillip R. Martinez threw out Posada's lawsuit on January 21, 2007, after prosecutors said that immigration officials could not release him because he was in U.S. Marshals Service custody.
Although Posada Carriles claims innocence, he was quoted in a New York Times interview boasting of his role in the destruction of the Cabana de Aviacion Flight 455.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Intelligence agencies tracking Spanish-speaking Jihadists in Mexico, Central America

By Frank Levine
InterPress News Service

BULLETIN --U.S. and Mexican intelligence officials are searching for at least 300 Arab extremists reported missing earlier this year from North Africa, after eluding surveillance by local and international intelligence agencies.
Many of the missing "potential terrorists," according to the officials, are Spanish-speaking Moroccans, previously surveilled by both Spanish and Moroccan intelligence agencies following the March 11, 2004 attacks on the Madrid rail system that killed 190 and injured and estimated 2,000.
"They seemingly vanished into thin air about the same time," observed one U.S. source. "It would be an understatement to say we are not concerned that some may find their way to Central America and Mexico, blend in with the local population, learn some of the expressions and customs, then infiltrate in the U.S."
The escape of the jihadists has reportedly angered some U.S. and European intelligence officials, who are undiplomatic in blaming Moroccan agencies for their apparent "looking away" while the jihadists absconded.
Officially, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and other U.S. government agencies will neither confirm nor deny the reports.
"It was just too easy," the U.S. source said. "People simply can't disappear like that from under surveillance without someone noticing something was up."
The report coincides with another of a massive FBI hunt this week for 11 missing Egyptian students in the United States; however, preliminary interrogation reports indicate that none was involved with "terroristic activities."
Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports that a small number of the North African jihadists have already been detained in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.
Their current whereabouts, however, remain unknown.
Of great concern is their ability to utilize their language abilities and training to move through Spanish-speaking countries relatively unnoticed.
"U.S. Border Patrol agents are now being forced to take a good hard look at even the most mundane immigration arrest, as the North Africans can pretend to be of Mexican or Central American origin, especially if they stay in a country for a few months to learn some of the local expressions and accents," the source said, adding: "Therefore, the immigration authorities throughout the region must ask probing questions, far beyond the standard questions of name and country of origin."
The post Madrid bombings investigation by Spanish authorities, supported by the combined resources of U.S., French, German, Israeli and other international agencies, including INTERPOL, indicated that some of the Madrid bombing conspirators were directly linked to some of the alleged jihadists in Morocco.
The massive multi-national investigation reportedly tagged 300 and 600 individuals to be kept under moderate to tight surveillance in the aftermath of the Madrid attacks, but by June, 2005, most of those being watched had seemingly vanished, according to confidential intelligence sources.
Meanwhile, as a result of a recent series of secret intelligence meetings between Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States, the exchange of information on the movement of suspected jihadists and other potential "terrorist threats" in the region has been increased to unprecedented levels. U.S. "advisers" have been strategically placed at key transportation hubs throughout the region, including airports, train and bus stations.
In a separate development, it has been reported that U.S. Special Operations Forces and heavily armed civilian intelligence elements have been sighted throughout the region, including the South American countries of Paraguay and Uruguay.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Possible US serial killer in Juarez slayings?

By Frank Levine

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico,May 18--Although Mexican law enforcement officials claim they've arrested most, if not all, of those allegedly responsible for the killing and torture of hundreds of young women in Juarez in recent years, skepticism remains among human rights activists and relatives of the victims, that the killers are actually behind bars -- preferring, instead, to believe that most recent killings indicate that at least one serial killer remains at large, possibly finding sanctuary in El Paso, Texas, just across the border.
The story of the murders is a long and grisly one. More than 400 women and girls have been killed and tortured in Juarez since 1993, with most of their bodies brutalized and dumped in shallow desert graves. An additional 70 women are missing, according to local women's rights activists and government sources.
"We have no indication that any serial killer travels to and from the United States," said one former Federal Judicial Police investigator, who prefers anonymity."But the rhythm of the killings may indicate that at least one killer may be leaving the area on a consistent basis."
The cross-border theory has been bounced around for more than a decade--ever since an unmistakable pattern of torture-killings developed in the early 1990s. Lending credence, are unconfirmed reports that at least one individual has been scrutinized as a possible suspect by investigators on the U.S. side of the border.
At first, Mexican law enforcement officials all but ignored the murders; however, after mounting public and political pressure, they began looking at co-workers, bus and taxi drivers--people who would have access to the women when they were returning home late at night after finishing their shifts at some the dozens of so-called "in-bond" factories and assembly plants in Juarez. Most of the victims were poor and uneducated. They migrated to Juarez for the dream of a decent job and better life than in the crushing poverty of Mexico's interior. Finally, after years of frustration and some questionable well-publicized arrests, local police began looking at themselves for possible suspects and clues.
According to recent published reports and North American Free Trade Agreement documents, about 80 Fortune 500 companies have facilities in the Ciudad Juarez area. Among them are, Alcoa, 3M,General Electric, Du Pont, Thomson RCA, Honeywell, Amway, Ford,TDK and Kenwood.
Meanwhile, in response to continuing tragedy, both the United States House and Senate last week passed resolutions condemning the continuing abductions, torture and murder of women in Juarez. The legislators, while commending the Mexican government for its recent actions to help stop the killings, also agreed that much more must be done.