miércoles, 17 de diciembre de 2014

Gallows humor, news and horror tales.

Por motivos del roce natural al que estamos acostumbrados en la lectura de la nota roja mexicana (o sea, todo menos deportes, cultura y socialite), cuando repasamos este reportaje, pensamos para nuestros adentros: "Sin novedad en el frente, todos coludidos, todos asesinos todos psicópatas". 
Pero... y aquí una gran excepción: Cuando hacemos el esfuerzo de leer la nota como anglosajónes, más  que una nota periodística lo que encontramos es una pequeña joya de terror.

Mexican readers are used to finding gory details in their daily and routine inspection of the Scandal Tabloids (which properly defines all mexican newspapers' front page, excluding perhaps sports, culture and celebrities sections). So when they confront and reflect on an item like the one below, they just think: "Nothing to see here, move along: They are all in cahoots, they are all murderous psychopaths".

But when we do the effort of translating the text and then peruse it from a Gringo perspective, we then find ourselves reading an extraordinary little jewel of the horror genre, notwithstanding that we are reading fact and not fiction.

So, in order not to spare mexicanos, bilinguals, and gringos from the common fare of any routine slow newsday in México, may i present to you: 

We are the champions ...!!! But sush, we don't want to brag.

True tales from Coahuila.

Ignacio Alvarado Álvarez
Special report for La Jornada
wednesday 17 december 2014, p. 32
Saltillo, Coahuila.

November 12, townsfolk from the Allende County in the State of Coahuila along with activists, blocked interstate highway 57 for several hours, near the place where a forum was taking place on the energy sector perspective for the region. They were petitioning the government to continue the investigation of the alleged kidnapping of 300 people by the Zeta-Cartel. Photo by Homero Aguirre.

Shale gas region ravaged by the Zeta Cartel, in the crosshairs of transnational energy companies.

  • The Zeta-Cartel attacked small industry businessmen dedicated to supplying the shale gas industry.

March 2011, Armed commandos entered in the north of the State, amongst others, the county of Allende, where the commandos kidnapped entire families that have not been seen since the incident.
In april of 2014 the homes of these families, that have been looted and destroyed by gunmen were finally demolished by the authorities.

Home of one of the kidnapped families

The official account of the mass kidnapping gave as the cause the vengeance against two members of the Zeta cartel that had been accused of treason, ordered by Miguel Angel Treviño AKA Z-40. that later was arrested by Navy soldiers in the summer of 2013.

Last february, the press revealed some details of the invasion of the commandos, after the State government deployed 250 policemen with army backup, to look for evidence of the incident.
In april, the mayor of Allende County, Luis Reynaldo Tapia Valadez, said that more than 300 people were kidnapped and many more fled.
The authrities  state that a hundred of the kidnapped were murdered and incinerated in the Piedras Negras prison. There were Television images of oil drums that supposedly were used to cook the victims in the midst of the ruins of the attacked towns.   

Nonetheless, authorities never answered the question of why they only started the criminal investigation 3 years after the the incidents described; they also were remiss as to how a group of commandos were able to move freely through the zone for weeks without interference from any of the law enforcement or military authorities.
In the north of Coahuila there is to be found one of the richest reserves of shale gas, water and coal. This last resource a necessary intermediate element for hidrocarbon production.
The zones where there have been more violent encounters between the cartel hitmen and the armed forces, as well as mass migration of people running away from the violence, leaving behind land and livelyhood, are rich in hidrocarbon resources, particularly the Burgos and Sabinas fields, as quoted by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Associate Professor and head of the department of Government Studies in the University of Browsville in Texas. 

This Professor and her texan colleague, Tony Payán, published a paper for the México of Rice University on the enormous potential of the shale gas  and crude oil fields in the Burgos Field and the deep water fields of the gulf of México.
With the energy sector reforms approved by the mexican congress -they assert in their paper- production levels will increase to unprecedented levels, thus sparking interest amongst businessmen and politicians.
For decades, drug smuggling towards the US was done without too much cartel related territorial disputes. Ciudad Acuña and Piedras Negras could assert that they were the "White border". But thoughout the years 2005 and 2009 (the first four years of governor Humberto Moreira) 788 murders were noted. Since then the region was shaken by ever more frequent and violent incidents: 

between 2010 and 2011 there were 1,067 homicides. Extorsion and kidnappings became prevalent and massive. Allende County is localized one hour away by car from the 14º  motorized cavalry batallion of Muzquiz, and 20 minutes away from the military operating base in Piedras Negras. In the toll booth of the highway that scissors through town there are soldiers patrolling. In march 2011 no authority or military force tried to help the kidnapped families. 
"they were all on the take, nobody came to help. People were scared and angered, my father managed to make some phone calls. He called the phone number the army had given him to call for help against the narcos. I know that many people sounded the alarm, soldiers were nowhere to be seen for weeks". recounts a survivor of the attacks that managed to escape to texas.

Traces of 500 bodies found in the north of Coahuila 
"Nobody has dared make the connection between one subject matter and the other, but when the day arrives, they will realize that nothing was random". says an anonymous source that used to work in the Moreira government. 
In march 2011 two alleged leaders of the Zeta cartel in Coahuila were captured. Their names: Gerardo Hernandez aka "El Gerry", and Pedro Toga aka "El Guacho". Both entered the protected witness program of the PGR (attorney general) along with Jose Luis Sarabia, another cartel leader detained in january 2012.
The three ex-Zeta witnesses testified against and implicated high level authorities from the Federal, State and Municipal levels as part of their network of bought law enforcement officials. They also testified against Humberto Torres Charles, former head of judicial affairs of the health department. Put in place by his brother, Jesús Torres Charles, former Attorney General during the Moreira governorship.
Moreira put in command military men on leave the responsability of fighting organized crime: they held the offices of Public Safety , and police command structures at the State level. The then new government formed a special SWAT team with the specific purpose of fighting the Zeta cartel.
"The Zeta cartel imposed a permitted system of terror; concentrating their attacks on small and medium businessess and their owners, but above all focusing on the coal industry." explains Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, who is preparing to publish a book on the coal industry.
"Fracking requires steel, coal, water and land ownership. Shale gas will be the energy source in the immediate future.
The winners with all of this are not only the big oligarchs and local politicians, the list includes the big transnational corporations like Exxon, Schlumberger,  Halliburton. Public safety in the shale gas fields is another great business opportunity in waiting". Concludes Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera.

"Madness?! This is Sparta Coahuila!!!"

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