He started with a story published by El Universal on Monday that said 398 Mexican soldiers, marines and federal police have been killed since December 2006 when President Calderon came to office.
Then he found this document from the Colombian Defense Ministry that shows that in roughly the same period 1,901 Colombian soldiers and police died fighting illegal armed groups.
So, Colombian soldiers and police are fighting _ and dying _ at a faster pace than in Mexico. For anyone living in Mexico, that comes as little surprise. The Mexican army doesn’t engage the bad guys often, not like the Mexican marines.
That is why one sees repeated public statements that Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, head of the nation’s most powerful cartel, is living in the mountains outside of Durango, in northern Mexico, and the army doesn’t send units to take a look. Even the archbishop of Durango has said everyone knows where El Chapo is.
Earlier this month, Televisa quoted an unnamed DEA official about Guzman’s whereabouts. He told the network ‘El Chapo’ lives in hiding “just like Osama Bin Laden” near Durango.
"He lives in very difficult terrain in the mountains and knows all the people, and if there is any movement by someone he’ll know,” the agent told Televisa.
Granted, the Pentagon hasn't been able to find Bin Laden either. But by most accounts, they certainly are looking for him. He may not see the drones overhead, but they are there.
It’s not just me who ponders Mexican army inaction in Durango. Look at this blog posting from Walter McKay, a former Canadian police officer who went on to get his Ph.D. and has been in Mexico for many years advising on better police training and standards. McKay goes further than to cite military inaction. He suggests that it is complicity.
Below is an excerpt from his blog posting on March 17, but one word of explanation. When Walter uses the much larger figure below for police deaths at the hands of organized crime, he is referring to all levels of police, municipal, state and federal. The figures above are just for the much less common killings of federal police. On the local and state level, police are getting mowed down left and right.
Of the security forces deployed in Calderon’s war it is the military, who are supposedly the ones on the front lines of this war but, oddly enough, have the fewest casualties (at 224) far less than the police, who are also combating the narcos, and have the higher death count (at 2521). But, it is the 37000+ civilians who have been slain, as well as the towns and families, who bear the brunt of the government's failed policies. One family in particular has been, and continues to be, the targets of unknown assassins, as 3 more members of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz's family were gunned down the other day. Marisela was the woman activist who was murdered in front of the office of the governor of Chihuahua where she had camped for many months to protest the release of her daughter’s killer, and whose brother was gunned down days later and the family business burned to the ground. This family is the public face of the strife that confronts Mexico, the embodiment of the horrors afflicting Juarez, and a stark example of the absolute ineffectiveness of the government to protect its citizens, either from criminals or rogue elements of the security forces in its employ.
What was once a whisper is now being openly stated, that the Mexican army is the biggest drug gang in the country. And, with the correlation of violence increasing wherever it is deployed, with no sign of abating, it seems to be not too far-fetched to think such thoughts.