Lightning at the End of the Tunnel:
Outside the spotlight of major media coverage and public awareness, the United States is quietly backing into a potentially wrenching military conflict south of the border, as U.S. financing, training, technology, intelligence, arms, advisors and political commitment are provided to bolster a shaky and corrupt Mexican regime - a regime that is steadily acquiring an arsenal to wage war against its own people should they dare to seriously challenge the entrenched status quo.
The hundreds of Mexican civilians who have already died at the hands of government troops and police during 1994 and 1995 alone, like the hundreds of millions of dollars in imported weaponry for Zedillo's army and the billions in bail-out money for the ruling elite, may tragically be only the beginning, if current U.S. policies are allowed to continue.
The consequences of an escalating civil conflict in Mexico, with heavy United States government support for a violently undemocratic elite of billionaire narco-politicians, will inevitably spill over the border, inflaming U.S. economic and social instability; promoting domestic militarization; sharply increasing the numbers of immigrants and refugees; requiring more and more U.S. aid, weapons shipments, advisors and potentially even combat troops to prevent the collapse of a regime on which Wall Street and Washington have already staked tens of billions of dollars.
From the jungles of Chiapas and the scorching desert shantytowns of the 2,000-mile border, to the slums of the world's largest urban metropolis, Mexico City: civil war in a nation of 90 million souls, just south of the Rio Grande, would be an unprecedented crisis for all the people of the continent which we share. It is not too late to change course and support peace through justice in Mexico, rather than continuing to financially and militarily prop up a violently undemocratic government there.
The fortified block-wide U.S. embassy in Mexico City has long been the largest State Department and CIA outpost in the Western Hemisphere, with one of the highest staffing levels of any such installation in the world. Its rooftop satellite radar dishes link the embassy complex to the Pentagon's network of sophisticated tracking stations and surveillance aircraft - stretching from NORAD's global headquarters inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado and the sensor-riddled U.S./Mexican border region to Cerro de Extranjeros (Aliens' Hill) in Chiapas, on into Guatemala and Columbia.
Headquartered in this high-tech command post, [former] Ambassador John Negroponte - a former diplomatic manager of U.S. wars in Cambodia and Nicaragua - served as the Bush and Clinton administration point man for promotion of NAFTA and corporate investment in Mexico.
On February 10, 1995, the New York Times reported that "American intelligence services" actively assisted in determining the (alleged) identity of Zapatista leader subcomandante Marcos, in preparation for the federal army occupation of eastern Chiapas and harsh imprisonment of accused Zapatistas.
Uncle Sam's traditional role as primary weapons supplier to Mexico intensified during the era of political turmoil in the crisis-torn 1980s, when debt austerity polarized the society and massive government sponsored election fraud stole an historic presidential election victory from leftist opposition candidate Cuatemoc Cardenas.
By the early 1990s, United States military assistance credit programs were providing some $40 million per year in equipment to Mexican security forces, along with another $45 million in State Department and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) grants.
Ironically much of the military aid sent to Mexico in recent years has gone under the banner of the Drug War, despite conclusive evidence linking the Mexican government and army to international narcotics trading - evidence which the July 31, 1995 issue of the New York Times revealed was systematically covered up or deliberately ignored by top U.S. Democratic and Republican officials in order to protect NAFTA, the bailout loans, and the "stability" of Mexico's ruling establishment.
From 1988 to 1992 the U.S. exported over $214 million of arms to the PRI regimes - according to the widely respected Mexican journal El Proceso - some 16 times as much as the second- place supplier, France. Last year, in the wake of the Zapatista uprising and weeks before the fraud-tainted national elections, President Clinton authorized a new arms export package for Mexico which included over $64 million of sophisticated electronic equipment and satellite-guided UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from United Technologies Corporation (a transnational company based in Connecticut, with a rocket motor plant at the south end of California's Silicon Valley).
In the 36 days preceding last Summer's scandal-ridden presidential balloting in Mexico, Associated Press reporters saw 23 tanks and nearly 300 tons of "war material" being unloaded on Veracruz docks. And on May 23, 1995, the New York Times reported that Mexico's U.S.supplied military helicopter fleet could be nearly doubled, to almost 200, by Pentagon transfers now under discussion, including several dozen state-of-the-art Blackhawk choppers.
U.S. Huey and Bell 212 helicopters, along with C-130 Hercules troop transport planes, were immediately brought into action as the Mexican army and federal police tried to crush the indigenous Zapatista peasant uprising in Chiapas last year. Eyewitnesses saw the choppers attack Mayan Indian communities with machine guns, rockets and bombs, yet no word of protest was ever issued from the Clinton administration or its Republican rivals. This despite the supposed agreement that U.S. aircraft would only be used against drug dealers.
These imported military aircraft played a decisive role in the lopsided January 1994 conflict, when over 400 Indian peasants were killed in 12 days, according to the human rights report of Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz.
Likewise, during the February 1995 army offensive, when federal troops - who had occupied much of Chiapas since the previous year - sent 25,000 Mayan campesinos fleeing into the mountains, U.S. supplied and financed foreign military hardware played a critical role. On the heels of the Mexican bailout deal, an International Monetary Fund loan, and a Chase Bank memo demanding "the elimination of the Zapatistas", a year-long cease- fire was broken as high-tech surveillance craft, fighter jets, helicopter gunships and transports, tanks and armored bulldozers thundered forward through the Lacandon rainforest in a terrifying show of force.
Even the traditional advantage of indigenous villagers, refugees and peasant rebels being tracked by state security forces - the ability to slip away through their well-known local forests and hills - is rapidly being eroded by advances in U.S. satellite warfare. The October 30, 1992 Los Angeles Times called it "the most critical power" in Pentagon worldwide military intervention. Especially crucial to this space-age counterinsurgency are Navstar GPS guidance systems, on which the Mexican army - like the U.S. Special Forces Command and the Chinese military - has been spending "considerable amounts", according to the authoritative studies in Jane's l995 Intelligence Review.
According to the San Jose Mercury News and the Pentagon's own journal, Defense '92, U.S. military intelligence and assets are deployed from California to the eastern Rio Grande, in a network of listening and observation posts, ground-based and aerial reconnaissance, motion sensors, ground surveillance radars, dog teams, "terrain denial" technologies, Nighthawk Systems infrared scopes, and computerized fingerprint machinery as well as GPS satellite-guided airplanes, helicopters and jeeps - $158 million worth this year (1995).
The dangerously deepening pattern of United States military involvement in Mexico goes beyond the massive exports of weapons and surveillance technology outlined above, to encompass not only large-scale U.S. taxpayer financing for this arms build-up, as well as training for hundreds of Mexican officers here in the States, but also the presence of U.S. police agents, Army advisors, high-level CIA operatives, and teams of United States Special Forces soldiers.
Beyond the tens of millions of dollars in military hardware sent south of the border under Clinton and Bush aid programs, part of the multi-billion U.S. tax dollar bailouts and "loans" has unquestionably gone to help underwrite the Mexican political elite's high-tech shopping spree, financing purchases from Pentagon stockpiles as well as from government-licensed U.S. weapons manufacturers, and from the global arms market.
From 1984 to l993 at least 725 Mexican military officers were trained by Pentagon experts inside the United States, 150 of those in l993 alone, with 94 officers graduating from Fort Benning, Georgia's notorious School of the Americas in 1992 and 1993 - a 300% increase over previous years.
By the time of the Zapatista uprising, nearly four dozen paramilitary police advisors from the DEA were working closely with Mexican security and intelligence forces, from the U.S. border to southeastern Chiapas - where the CIA also fields a substantial expanding network of agents and covert operatives, according to ex-CIA officers John Stockwell and Ralph McGehee.
U.S. troops - including elite Special Forces counterinsurgency teams - have already been fielded within Mexico's conflict zones, often under cover of the so-called Drug War campaign - though the numbers and missions of these clandestine units remain shrouded in secrecy and financed by the Pentagon's classified multi-billion "Black Budget" slush fund.
U.S. military attaches have been sighted in Chiapas during army crackdowns, and as the U.S. Special Operations Commander, General Carl W. Stiner, has said, Special Forces teams "Provide advice, assistance and deterrence to officials in areas experiencing insurgence [or] instability ... [and] signal U.S. resolve to both allies and adversaries, [to] enhance stability and promote U.S. influence ... when larger U. S. forces may be politically unacceptable."
(It was ten years after U. S. Special Forces troops machine gunned 83 peasant rebels in a Salvadoran forest camp, along with CTA supervision of Honduran torture squads, that accounts of their deeds as "advisors" finally surfaced in the mainstream Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Baltimore Sun.)
In April (1995) the Clinton administration publicly admitted that if a new upheaval in Mexico occurred, the U.S. Army would begin rounding up and detaining undocumented Latinos in military internment facilities - an operation unprecedented since the World War II detention of Japanese Americans. Through Mexico, the reality of Pentagon/CIA counterinsurgency wars - like the developing world's economic crisis - is already beginning to come home.
With the Mexican army going onto "Red Alert" at the edge of a second guerrilla front in Guerrero this past summer (1995), and the stresses in Mexican society straining toward the breaking point, U.S. military involvement there is sliding down a darkening slope, and rather than daylight at the end of the tunnel, are lit only by the fires of deepening conflict.
Original publication date: September, 1995
From Global Exchange
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