Warning: Except on the matters of the "drug war" and NAFTA and the damage they cause, and what could be done to end them, this is a work of fiction.
In all of the kerfuffling about what's going on in Ukraine, a news story that some would consider very important has been missed. (Actually, for some perspectives on what's going on in Ukraine that are rather different from what you are seeing in the bulk of the U.S. media and hearing from U.S. politicians , both GOP and Democratic , see, among others, the hyperlinked articles.)
This, on the other hand, is a column that was originally published in an obscure publication in England and was brought to my attention by a mutual friend. It happens that the author writes under a pseudonym, "Karl Friedrich." I gather that this is in honor/remembrance of the fact that during the First U.S. Civil War Karl Marx, from London, was a columnist for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune (and some of his columns were ghost-written by his long-time collaborator, Friedrich Engels). At any rate, it is about a series of events that seem to have been totally missed by the U.S. media (perhaps ignored would be a better word). And so.
Sunset in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Due to the totally US-inspired .drug war,. in the past six years the sun has set on over 100,000 lives in Mexico.
(image by EliseMeder)
Within the past two weeks, the currently elected President of Mexico has been ousted from office by a coalition of a reborn Zapatista Army from Chiapas , a secretly revived and reorganized national teachers' union movement , originally based in Oaxaca, a newly radicalized split-off from the formerly powerful Confederation of Mexican Workers , the Mexican Workers Militant Alliance, and a variety of units from the Federal Police and the armed services that are totally fed up with the so-called "Drug War" and the tens of thousands of deaths that it causes annually , to civilians and to their own forces, "for the pleasure of the Gringos" as they say, in Mexico alone.
It has recently come to light that the principal members of the Latin American customs union, MERCOSUR, that Argentina , Brazil , Uruguay , Venezuela , and Bolivia , have been taking an increasingly active role in Mexican politics. Their principal aim is to persuade Mexico to withdraw from the crippling North American Free Trade Agreement and join MERCOSUR. It turns out that, providing both funding and advisors, MERCOSUR was extremely important in creating the New Mexican Revolution (as it is being called in Mexico). In the face of the massive uprising, the now former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, consulting with the heads of his armed services, decided to step down rather than risk civil war. (It has been rumored for quite some time now that President Nieto is fully in accord with the two principal policies of the new government, but felt that he did not have the credibility with the Mexican people to pull off the major changes that their implementation requires.)
Obviously two major interests of the United Sates are in play here. NAFTA was the first "trade" agreement set up to facilitate the outflow of U.S. capital (and along with it the jobs it could support). There are now numerous U.S. industries set up in Mexico precisely to take advantages of the benefits it offers to them. They would be seriously harmed if the time-limit for the phase-out, one year, were to be strictly adhered to. And then, were Mexico to actually join MERCOSUR, given the size and positioning of the Mexican economy, that alliance would be strengthened significantly, while at the same time significantly shrinking the footprint of the U.S. in the economic life of Latin America. Further, U.S. companies have to be concerned about their investments in the Central American countries.
Of equal concern to the U.S. is the maintenance of the "Drug War ." The new Mexican government has announced that not only would be legalizing marijuana for controlled retail sale a la Uruguay, but that it also intended to set up a series of "government stores" for the sale of heroin and cocaine, strictly regulated as to dose and purity, with major controls on who could purchase them. This system would have major impact on the United States of course.
There are many U.S. stakeholders which are closely wedded to the "Drug War" for one reason or another: the prison-industrial complex, dependent as it is on a constant supply of convicted (as it happens, non-violent) drug users and sellers), local and state polices forces dependent on "drug war" funding for meeting their budgets, the tobacco and alcohol industries leery of what legalization might do to the sales of their products, numerous politicians who run on "tough on crime" (drug and related crime, of course, never white-collar crime) platforms, the whole Federal "anti-drug" establishment, and so on and so forth. However, the largest stakeholders in the maintenance of the drug war are the international drug cartels. They would literally go out of business overnight and their enormous profits would disappear. There has already been speculation that a very peculiar alliance may be developing between the drug cartels and the U.S. government with the singular goal of maintaining the drug war, even though they come to that objective from different directions.
The U.S. invasion, made in terms of "defending the Democratic process in Mexico" (even though the president has stepped down voluntarily), has for the moment stopped about ten miles south of the border, for both the international and domestic responses to it have been quite striking. In the U.S., within 48 hours massive anti-war street protests had been put together by organizations ranging from the in-your-face The World Can't Wait , to the Quakers, to Occupy Wall Street . Street protests erupted all over Latin America, but most especially in the MERCOSUR countries. Mexico took the matter directly to the United Nations Security Council where the outcome is unclear. The European Union and most of its member countries have remained silent for the time-being, while "urgent consultations" are underway. The one exception was the Tory Government here in the United Kingdom, which issued a statement of strong support for military action to "preserve international agreements."
The strongest negative reaction came, not surprisingly, from President Vladimir Putin of Russia. He had wondered aloud even before the Mexican invasion how the United States, with its long history of intervention in the affairs of other countries around the world, could "maintain a straight face" in criticizing his government, especially when there was significant evidence (see the lead to this column) of EU/US interference in Ukrainian affairs before the original street demonstrations that led to the ouster of their elected President took place. In the case of Ukraine, his armed forces had moved primarily to protect Russian military assets and Russians living in Ukraine. Russia of course also had a major interest in keeping Ukraine as a privileged trading partner, rather than having it be swept up into the European Union. Following the invasion, Putin focused primarily on playing the hypocrisy card against the United States.
At this time, everything appears to be in a state of flux. But we shall be playing very close attention as events proceed.