Monday, 14 May 2012

Quick notes about Mexico

     The following remarks are made with the certain knowledge that people who are not there know better than El Gringo Viejo about what is going on in Mexico.  However, we have the obligation to have informed the OROG community of what is going on, and of what is going on within the context of what is going on.    We strive to deliver the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.   We energetically avoid taking a piece of the truth and leaving the reader with what results in a misleading or mendacious statement.   Therefore, and briefly.

     No news agencies within the mainstream media, nor even FOX News, covered the most important development in the "un-winable" War on Drug Cartels.    In the communities of Guasave (where Fernando Valenzuela pitched his first professional ballgame), and Choix, both in the western State of Sinaloa, Mexico a huge battle was conducted involving two different cartel groups, (CdeS and Zeta).    The zone is an incredibly rich agricultural area, around Guasave, connected to an unimaginably remote, difficult to traverse Earth-bound asteroid whose last contact with Earth is through the community of Choix.    Although it normally is productive, with predictable rains, excellent pockets of alluvium, chilly nights, and warm days year round, it is presently in the grips of a severe drought.     In the high Sierra Madre Occidental mountains east of Choix  perhaps as much as 15% of all the marihuana smoked in the United States is produced in a area about the size of Rhode  Island.    The production area is extreme-to-the-10th power hard to access.
      The people, a humble and rustic sort numbering a few hundred thousand, try to produce basic crops and live a humble but free life.   When the cartels arrived about 17 - 20 years ago, the rustics were immediately terrorised in the most brutal ways to produce marihuana and poppies, assist in the harvest and processing, and then essentially be paid next to nothing for the right to stay alive.   They were "allowed" to pay the 'daughter tax", and given the opportunity to pay the "son tax" (the rustic boy is used to rabbit-run a load of weed over there to distract the Army, while over here the big load is being loaded into a DC-3 to fly to a place outside of Hermosillo).   If the rustic is really lucky, he can even be allowed to pay the "wife tax".   Sometimes the cartel people will even allow the daughters, wives, and sons to go back home.
      Some police, a few federal cops, some American secret measures people, have nibbled around the edges of the area.   The offer of "plata o plomo" however, kept most meddling at bay.   The traffickers feared only the Army, and even then...not much....because the Army was small, and  the Choix zone is very, very, very far away....think Pluto.

     But.....early this month.....the two cartels began to clash.   First in Guasave, which straddles the ground transportation route out....a really great expressway to the insatiable California market...parallelled by a pretty good old toll-free road.    Before the first day was out, about 10 cockroaches had managed to be killed.   The local police began chasing both groups and one policeman was killed.   An Army patrol was on the route towards the mountains that both of the cartel groups were travelling.   Contact was made, and the Army noted that they were dealing with something much larger than what a patrol could or should engage.    Enter more local police, elements of the Federal Police, and then a portion of a heavy infantry battalion.   The area is very dry, in the midst of a severe drought, so the Army lays back and waits, wisely, to find the direction of movement of enemy elements, and to bring in water, food, and other secondary supplies that will quickly be necessary due to the dryness and remoteness.
      The next morning, with a plan, supplies, munitions, and combat helicopter support, the Army begins to assault its two-headed monster of an adversary.    BUT WAIT!  There's more! Numerous of the "peasants" are straggling in to the Army's bivouac with their weapons, such as might be, volunteering to join the fight.   They inform that other rustics, up ahead, are already harassing the cartel thugs from protected rocky positions at elevations, about 4 miles ahead.
      What ensued, was....has been....(perhaps better stated)....was one of those great moments of pride and resolve that can occur when a group of committed people join together to fight for the good of others.   For the better part of the next three days, scouting platoons, isolated rustics, local dumble police, sharp new Federal Police, and the ever valiant Army engage both groups of cartel people from the flanks and rear.   The rustics and the scouting platoons join up and the cartel people begin to make the hopeless retreat into the land from whence noone can ever return.   They move deeper and deeper to the east, into mountains that in many cases are unknown to human-kind.    That area dividing Sinaloa State from the State of Chihuahua was too remote even for the famous Pancho Villa.
      Finally, and the issue is still in flux, there has been a pause.    Four Army soldiers were killed, and about 19 wounded.    Local police dumboes have lost two killed and six wounded.  The rustics have lost two killed and an unknown number wounded or injured.   The reasonable count of fallen cartel people is in the low 200's.   It was a disaster for the bad guys.

Thursday, May 3, 2012 |

Previous Borderland Beat stories on the bloodshed in Sinaloa state can be found by looking for
Chris Covert
Mexican cartel allied groups which fought each other and Mexican security forces, and died since Saturday, include such groups as the Beltran-Leyva, the Sinaloa and the Los Zetas drug cartels, according to Mexican news accounts.
In a Thursday posting at its website, Vangardia news daily reported unnamed sources saying that the groups which were in the general area of Choix since Saturday include Los Mazatlecos, Los Chapos Isidro Norte, Los Pequeños and Los Zetas, led by Fausto Isidro Meza Flores AKA El Chapo Isidro, against a Sinaloa group called Gente Nueva.
Also included, not surprisingly was an armed group led by a Juarez Cartel operative identified as José Luis Ledezma, AKA El JL, leader of Los Aztecas. The Juarez Cartel makes use of remote mountain communities in far western Chihuahua state ro grow some of the drugs it smuggles into the US. La Linea, the Juarez cartel's enforcement wing also operated in remote Chihuahua state communities such as Madero, where quantities of Tovex, a commercial grade dynamite was found just after the July, 2010 car bomb in Juarez city.
Prior reports said that two groups had exchanged gunfire initially in Choix municipality, also wound up fighting Mexican Army and Sinaloa state police agents, and have been since then until Wednesday.
The Vangardia report also said that Mexican Army troops have moved further into eastern Choix to make arrests of cartel shooters involved in the fighting since last Saturday.
The total dead state wide, by this author's account, include 54 gang and cartel affiliated shooters, the latest being in Guasave where 11 armed suspects and two Mexican soldiers were killed early Wednesday morning.
Speaking of the firefight in Guasave, Vangardia said that the Mexican Secretaria de Defensa Nacional, the controlling agency for the Mexican Army, reported large amounts of munitions seized including 31 rifles, 12 handguns, 5,291 rounds of ammunition. 121 weapons magazines, hand grenades and homemade explosive devices. These munitions lists probably also include quantities seized in Choix municipality since last Saturday.
In a Thursday evening post on its website, Noreste news daily reported that 11 armed suspects were killed in the firefight between armed suspects and a Mexican Army road patrol at the Hotel Macurín. Seven suspects died in separate hotel rooms, while two more died attempting to flee the fire zone. Two more died in the court yard of the hotel.
The report also said that 30 local schools were closed down during the two hour long firefight.
Contraband seized in the aftermath of the firefight include 28 rifles and pistols (including two 0.50 caliber Barrett rifles), four vehicles including one armored Jeep Cherokee SUV and 1,600 rounds of ammunition.
According to a post on its website Thursday evening El Debate news daily listed nine of the 11 armed suspects killed in Guasave: Luis Enrique Leon Leyva, José Alberto Rocha Fonseca, Juvenal Parez Encino, Carlos Daniel Velazquez Terraza, Oscar Manuel Montoya Lopez, Omar Adrian Montoya Rubio, Luis Saenz, Jesus Gamez and José Leonardo Lopez Murillo.

In a story posted on its website Thursday Grupo Formula radio said that at least one church, Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Culican, the capital of Sinaloa has been vandalized by cartel operatives. The report also said a Catholic priest was stabbed at a Catholic school last week and is in serious condition.
On the website of La Tarde news daily Thursday evening, it was reported that a total of 23 dead had been found in several municipalities of Sinaloa. It is unclear in that report how many are included in the total death toll of 56.
In Culiacan, the Capital of the State of Culiacan, and to the south of the involved area, 10 were reported dead, four in Salvador Alvarado, three in Ahome, two each in San Ignacio and El Fuerte, and one each in Navolato and Mocorito.

     The above swirl of reporting occurred during the "fog of war".   There is other reporting that carries up to the present, but it is attached to material that would not be wise to have going into the OROGs' computer's storages.   Security advising companies always scoff at these reports and say that it is mainly "boys will be boys", and that the Army drives up and shoots up a few abandoned SUVs, declares victory, and go back to hide inside their forts.
     These same security advising services claim to have "deep throat" sources.   The last one we listened to on a reputable (?) radio program also stated that ".....we have to understand that Mexico gains about 25 or 30 billion dollars out of this business.  That almost all of their economy.   So it's easy to see why they (the cartels) own the country".     The problem is that Mexico's GNP is actually about 90%  that of the Republique Francaise.   Something in the order of a little less than 2,000,000,000,000.00 USD.

     Now, all of the above is prologue.   The issue at San Juan de Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon, Mexico wherein almost 50 mutilated bodies were found on the non-toll, old highway between Monterrey and Reynosa relates to the activities in Sinaloa.   Suffice to say that one rogue cartel is fighting for its life against an alliance of several "good" cartels.   They are being reduced by the Army and Naval Infantry in Michoacan, Tamaulipas, most of Nuevo Leon, much of Vera Cruz, and to some extent in Guerrero State.    Fellow traffickers are reducing them in the north.   The assassinations, murders, and combat between the cartel groups has been intense since the last days of April and then on into May.   But 99% of the casualties have been among the cartels.    A couple of dozen, lamentably, have been among the cops, military, and certain civilian volunteers.
     As of this moment, forensic researchers have established that the vast majority of the mutilated bodies found at San Juan, Nuevo Leon had "Santa Muerte" tatoos and other "organised crime" labellings.    So far, over a dozen had their "point of pride" prison numbers tatooed as well.   It was obviously a lashing out by one cartel group against another.   It was done in a way that is predictable of individuals who have no souls, who deal with others who have no souls.   While distressing and sobering, it does not concern 99.999999% of the general population.   The common response from those of us who come and go in Mexico is,"There has been no loss".   When the people from Central America were found, that was not our response.   But this is different.   The casualties of the cartels, along with the little "farm teams" of barrio gangs, and their ability to kill each other with alacrity, is actually a form of degradation of force that benefits all of North America, directly and indirectly.

      Finally, San Juan, Nuevo Leon is famous for better things.   It is a community of decent folk.   It is also where a large work detail of Mexicans and Americans who were re-building and  engineering the railway from Brownsville-Matamoros to the city of Monterrey, and the Monterrey - Tampico trunk railway, back in the late 1880s.   The Mexicans were humoured by the Americans occasionally recreating by throwing, catching, and hitting a ball, sometimes in concert with running around in a square circle demarcated by things called "bases".
     Maybe it was the understandable nature of the terms...."bases" in Spanish is "bases (BAH sez)" and "ball" in Spanish is pelota, but also, "bola  (BOH lah)., which is spelled beisbol, and pronounced in the Mexican Spanish and Spanish throughout the world as baseball.
     In any regard, the Mexicans showed interest in the game of many dimensions, and the Gringos showed them gloves of a sort, the bats, balls, and other instruments and the general nature and rules of the game.   After a few days of practising, catching, throwing, and trying to hit a round ball with a round piece of wood, the Mexicans decided they wanted to play the American team....which was actually a good a single A minor league team, in to-day's terms.   Beer waggons, cabrito (roasted goat kid), and other fixings appeared suddenly, people from all the ranches appeared suddenly,  people wearing Sunday-go-t0-meeting clothes appeared.   Railroad executives, Monterrey businessmen and their families made the jaunt...(quite a distance in those days).   It is said that there were as many as 5,000 people in attendence at the game.   Lines were drawn straight with surveying chalkdust, bases installed, and equipment was fairly divided.   Gloves were shared as the defenses change field, and a lot of beer and cabrito was consumed.   It was an extra inning game, 10 innings, when all the dust settled.   It was apparent that this was not totally an instructional show-game.  The score at the end was Gringos 2 Mexicans 1 and it was a wildly celebrated episode in the foundation of Baseball as one of the major sports in Mexico....and later in Cuba, Republica Dominicana, Venezjuela, Nicaragua, and Colombia.    According to one reasonable source:
"In 1847, if you go to the history books, that is the time where the U.S. is trying to take control of Mexico and this is the time the armed forces from the United States were in Mexico," said Magdalena Rosales Ortiz, director of the Salon de la Fama, the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, in Monterrey. "All during the 1840s and later there were different parts of Mexico where the Americans tried to take control. These dates coincide with the origin of baseball in each area. The American troops played baseball and shared the game."
Salon de la Fama, on the grounds of the original
Brewery of Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc, in Monterrey,
Nuevo Leon.   An excellent Baseball and other
sports Museum.
Beers include Carta Blanca, Tecate, Bohemia,
among others.   Company is one of the original
members of the conglomerate, Fomento Economico
Mexicano, FEMSA
The laying of track for the railroad, specifically the Monterrey-Tampico railway, played a large part in the spreading of baseball throughout the country, specifically northern Mexico. Colonel Joseph Robertson, who was from Tennessee and once served under General Robert E. Lee, introduced the game in Nuevo Leon when he granted his railroad workers a holiday on the fourth of July in 1889. Robertson and his workers celebrated by playing baseball.

"Colonel Robertson plays a very interesting role in the development of baseball in Mexico, but his influence is larger than sports," Rosales said. "He also brought the first orange trees to the state and we eventually became one of the strongest citrus producers in Mexico. He also brought the first brick company to that area."

The biggest argument for the origin of baseball comes from the Monterrey contingent. The city is the home of the Sultanes, the Hall of Fame, the academy and the 1957 and 1958 Little League teams which won consecutive championships in Williamsport. Those factors lead the people of the city to believe they have the right to state the origin of baseball is in the state of Nuevo Leon.

     It is true that baseball was played in Mexico before, but mainly by Americans among themselves.   Cubans had learnt the game from cowboys, soldiers, and others after the Spanish American War, but that was ten years later, although they had some familiarity with the game from having visited close-by Florida and others of the United States.   But San Juan de Caderyta, Nuevo Leon was where the seed fell, took root, and became the crop of abundance of human interest and pleasure.   Col. Robertson, a real Confederate hero, brought supplies of gloves, balls, bats, and uniform parts, which then would impulse another Mexican industry....that of making things necessary for the playing of the Holy Game of Baseball.
    With reference to the Monterrey Little League World Champions in 1957 and 1958, it is one of the pride points for El Gringo Viejo to point out that he was a member of the only team that defeated the Monterrey All Stars.    The McAllen Eastern League Little League Champions had gone 18-0 during their season.   The team, parents, sponsors, players agreed to hold a friendly game so as to orient the Mexican visitors to the town, the fields, and the nature of the game in Texas.   The game was played in win or lose trying...and we were a good warm up challenge for a team we immediately recognised was something special.
     After the regulation six innings, Coca-Cola won the game, 2  -  0.   My contribution was picking up one hit, and scoring one run after walking.   My position was second base.   Mike Stroud was the winning pitcher with 9 strike outs in the six innings.   Each team had five hits.   Mike had thrown two no-hitters during the regular season.
    The manager of the Monterrey team, a really nice fellow, said that we had helped wake his boys up.    Still, in losing, they had exhibited the characteristics that would lead to their ultimate triumph in Williamsport.

Now he is done.
El Gringo Viejo