As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Amos 5:19
No matter which way they've turned, the inhabitants of Tijuana, Mexico have found nothing but violence and corruption.
During 2006, at least 300 people were murdered in Tijuana, most of them slaughtered by gangsters in the employ of the narcotics cartels. Those who turned to the local police for protection discovered that their situation had not improved, since the police were little more than a subsidiary of the cartel.
Earlier this year, Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched “Operation Tijuana,” sending 3,300 soldiers and heavily armed Federal Police to occupy the city and disarm the local police, some of whom were sent on patrol armed only with slingshots. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a noticeable reduction in random violent crime, although the trade-off was the imposition of martial law, enforced through street checkpoints and the omnipresent threat of lethal violence.
On January 27, the troops and Federales departed after re-arming the local cops. They gave the corrupt Tijuana police a going-away present: Six federal police officers involved in the counter-narcotics deployment were videotaped extorting money from a motorist. That's a role usually carried out by the Tijuana police themselves.
Meanwhile, Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon -- who, like George W. Bush is the stupidest scion of a multi-generational political crime family (each of them is the Fredo Corleone of his respective clan) -- is preparing to campaign for Governor of Baja, California. This means stepping down with eight months left in his term as mayor, but as the nominee of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Hank would have no effective competition.
“My city is still secure,” Hank declared recently, last year's body count and the recent federal military occupation notwithstanding. “It's not a secure city,” he continued, displaying a gift for language remarkably similar to that of George W. Bush. “It's less insecure, let's call it that way, than two or three years ago.”
Before resigning to place his foot on the next rung on Mexico's political ladder, Hank introduced his successor to the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional body that deals with political, economic, and environmental matters on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The border crossing in San Diego is the busiest in the world, for both legal and illegal commerce and immigration.
Here's a hypothetical question:
If you were a law-abiding, hard-working, reasonably bright citizen of Tijuana, and you had the means to get to the United States, wouldn't you be powerfully tempted to do so, whether or not you had official permission?
Recent developments in Tijuana offer a microcosm of Mexico's incurably degenerate political system and a foreshadowing of what we can expect if the campaign to merge that nation with ours unfolds as planned.
Mexico's “government” -- a congealed crust of official corruption atop a roiling mass of unofficial corruption – entirely vindicates Alfred J. Nock's observation that the State is merely the dominant criminal syndicate in any society. President Calderon, the U.S.-educated successor to Vicente Fox, is a member of the “conservative” National Action Party (PAN), an upstart rival gang to the long-entrenched PRI. Calderon, with the support of Washington, came to power through widespread voter fraud. Because of threats of revolutionary violence from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential candidate of the Marxist Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), Calderon's inauguration took place under contrapuntal threats of martial law.
Since assuming power, Calderon has dispatched more than 24,000 troops to states plagued by narcotics-related violence, which last year took thousands of lives (some by way of Iraq-style be-headings) as various drug syndicates fought over smuggling routes and cropland. Not surprisingly, given their strategic significance, two cities abutting the border – Tijuana and Neuvo Laredo – have been particularly afflicted.
Some of the troops dispatched by Calderon were used to destroy opium and marijuana harvests. A friend of mine, a Special Forces veteran who did the same kind of work in Latin America during the 1980s, calls this the “narcotics price support program.” Mexico's drug cartels will enjoy a corresponding windfall. So will the Mexican government, since Washington is prepared to reward Calderon with more counter-narcotics funding. And as it happens, Mexico's narco-elite and its political class are more or less the same group of people.
(De-criminalizing drug use, by way of contrast, would end this price support program and mitigate much of the violence. Which is precisely why that option is not seriously considered.)
Nothing illustrates this fact better than the Hank dynasty, sometimes referred to as Mexico's “Rockefellers.”
The dynasty was founded Carlos Hank Gonzalez, who died in August 2001. Barred by the country's constitution from running for the presidency (Hank's father was German), Carlos embodied the Mexican Dream: He amassed a huge fortune by “serving” in government while directing business to nominally private interests he owned and operated. A politician who is poor, Carlos famously remarked, “is a poor politician.”
Carlos Hank became a kingmaker, serving as something of a Colonel House to Carlos Salinas de Gortari – the “reformist” Mexican president who was indispensable to completion of the NAFTA treaty. Salinas and his brother Raul followed the Hank formula for wealth, with one significant refinement: They embedded themselves at the junction of high finance and the international narcotics trade.
Former DEA agent Mike Levine, the most decorated undercover operative in the agency's history, unearthed evidence of this connection in the late 1980s. As he explained in his book Deep Cover (and elaborated to me in an August 2001 interview), that evidence was suppressed by the Reagan administration in the interest of protecting the then-embryonic NAFTA accord.
DEA Whistleblower Mike Levine.
Raul is currently in prison. His brother Carlos, the subject of an interpol warrant, has spent much of his retirement in self-imposed exile in Ireland – but for some reason he hasn't missed his meetings as a member of the Dow Jones board of directors.
NAFTA was the first stage of a full-scale merger between Mexico's nomenklatura and its American counterpart. While it's done nothing to make ordinary people freer or more prosperous on either side of the border, it has been tremendously profitable for the elite.
Julia Reynolds of El Andar (a bold California journal of Latino culture) summarizes:
“The architects of NAFTA on both sides of the Rio Bravo have allowed a new, immensely profitable system to flourish – sometimes creating millionaires overnight – based on a river of cash from drug sales that flows through the banking industry and into business expansions and acquisitions.”
The genteel face of the Hank criminal dynasty: Banking mogul Carlos Hank Rhon
Several years ago, a preliminary report from the National Center for Drug Intelligence (NCDI) described Carlos Hank Rhon – the elder and more sober son of dynasty founder Carlos Hank Gonzalez -- as a “significant criminal threat to the United States.” Carlos Hank the Younger -- with Jorge's help, such as it is -- presides over a multi-billion-dollar bi-national business empire (“Grupo Hank”) that reportedly is deeply intertwined with the drug trade. Of particular interest was the Grupo Hank-owned Laredo Bank in Texas.
After the “law-enforcement sensitive” report was leaked to the press in July 2000, Grupo Hank's reply was to sic its lawyers on its author, an unassuming academic named Donald Schulz, who denied leaking the material. A lawsuit filed by Laredo Bank President Gary Jacobs, acting as a surrogate for Carlos Hank Rhon, accused Schulz of violated the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act (RICO) by supposedly creating an “enterprise ... [to] unlawfully acquire, use, and disseminate top secret, predecisional [sic], law enforcement information” in ways that injured the plaintiffs.
RICO was created for use against organized crime. In this case it was used by an alleged multi-national crime syndicate to punish a law enforcement consultant who was investigating the same alleged syndicate.
While targeting Schulz with a lawsuit, Grupo Hank deployed its chief Capitol Hill asset – former Senator Warren Rudman – to pressure the Clinton administration into retracting the accusations. At roughly the same time, Laredo President Jacobs was threatening lawsuits and other actions that would cause the “cockroaches” in Washington to scatter, a variation on the old “If I go down, I'm taking you with me” trope.
In short order, then-Attorney General Janet Reno conspicuously disavowed the NCDI report. Since that time, Washington has done nothing to disturb Carlos Hank Rhon's tranquility. The Hank Brothers, notes El Andar, “pulls political and economic strings in Mexico at every level,” and – obviously – exercises growing influence on the U.S. Side of the border. The Hanks, claims the publication, aspire to nothing less than “running the financial affairs of this hemisphere.”
What kind of people are the Hanks? Consider:
In 1993, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas, the bishop of Tijunana, was murdered by assassins in the hire of the Gulf Cartel, whose operations included the Eme, a vicious prison-based Mexican Mafia. The murder took place at Guadalajara's international airport. Cardinal Posadas had boldly condemned the cartel and its political allies, and his murder was intended to show that nobody who crossed the cartel was untouchable.
After the murder, Benjamin and Javier Arellano Felix, the rulers of the Gulf Cartel, “flashed police badges, boarded an Aeromexico flight and were back in Tijuana for dinner,” reports El Andar. “Flight attendants later stated that the saw Jorge Hank Rhon sitting with the Arellanos in the first class section.”
Carlos Hank Rhon, sometimes called “Professor Hank,” is the genteel face of El Grupo Hank – the face it shows at meetings with Citibank officials and in lobbying visits to Washington. Jorge Hank Rhon shows little interest in disguising his criminal nature.
And the Hank criminal syndicate has substantial ties to America's most powerful crime family, the Bushes.
“Those who say that George W. Bush has scant knowledge of foreign affairs don’t understand his family’s relationship with Mexico,” wrote El Andar's Julie Reynolds in a 2000 expose. “If one event could be said to make that relationship visible, it had to be the state dinner given eleven years ago by President Bush for Mexico’s president, Carlos Salinas. It was an elegant yet boisterous gala, where the biggest movers and shakers in Texas and Mexico congregated and celebrated. This group was to become W’s Mexican legacy, a gift of ties and connections passed on from the father to his son. What was not visible was that the group included two men with numerous links to drug cartel figures. These men helped George W. Bush win the Latino vote in Texas.”
The drug cartel-linked figures identified by Reynolds were “the loyal `Amigos de Bush' from San Antonio: criminal defense lawyer Roy Barrera Jr. and car dealer Ernesto Ancira Jr.,” both of whom reportedly had strong business ties to Mexico's narcotics cartels.
And also present at that 1989 meeting, which was intended to celebrate and deepen the ties being forged through the impending NAFTA accord, was Gary Jacobs of Laredo Bank, Carlos Hank Rhon's surrogate. Jacobs, reported Reynolds, went on to become a key contributor and adviser to George W. Bush during both his gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.
What these people plan to do, should they succeed in building their tri-national Security and Prosperity Partnership -- commonly called the North American Union, and better described as the Soviet States of North America -- is to create one huge Tijuana-style dystopia of violence and official corruption.
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