Luis A. Marentes explains ...
According to the Wall Street Journal, drug cartels have been in the mineral export business to China for a few years. In 2010, for example, police arrested 40 people involved in illegal mining in territory in which ArcelorMittal was supposed to have exclusive rights. This scheme was associated to La Familia, the precursor to the Knights Templar. <b>According to the report, in that year the cartel made approximately $40 million exporting over 1.1 million tons of mineral to China.</b> In response Virgilio Camacho, representing ArcelorMittal, negotiated a deal with local landowners and truckers. Under the deal, the transnational would pay $16-$18 per ton of the iron-rich hematite, yet Chinese buyers offered $65-$85 for the same amount.
Much of the recent coverage of the autodefensas growing uprising in Michoacán has focused on their drug trade, and their extortion and protection rackets. Recent articles by Al Jazeera America and Fusion have also focused on the Knights Templar links to the growing avocado business. Much less has been written about these large mining interests, their relationship to the drug trade and human trafficking. Yet the signals of these links are beginning to trickle, and the state's autodefensas also begin to come into the picture.
A recent article in Imagen del Golfo focuses on mining support for the autodefensas. The article talks about protection schemes between Knights Templars and miners, and emphasizes recent agreements between the autodefensas and the miners. Asked about this in the article, a commander named Simón or El Americano answers "Oh, yes. The Chinese and them [the miners] are supporting [us]."
I have recently affirmed here that "it is way too early to reach conclusions as to the results of this uprising, but one can clearly see that its causes and consequences are international in nature." At the time my focus was on returned migrants in the autodefensas, and historic linkages between Michoacán and the United States, but a closer examination indicates that the international nexus is much larger.
A recent article by the Mexican collective Jóvenes ante la Emergencia Nacional digs much farther into the current Michoacán juncture, and China again becomes central. Their analysis focuses on the state's natural wealth, its growing infrastructure and investments, linking it to a very important North American economic corridor. It looks at a growing multidimensional struggle for control of resources and trade routes, and also links recent economic, political and military events to a larger worldwide economic restructuring, including recent plans to renegotiate NAFTA and efforts to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This article, written in Spanish, is well worth reading.
I look forward to investigative reporters digging deeper into the causes and consequences of the current Michoacán crisis to help us understand the many layers that lay behind a conflict that is often reported as one between evil extortionists and a noble popular uprising.
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While at the same time, Patricia Rey Mallén describes how the government of President Pena ...
Plans To Economically Suffocate Michoacán Cartels
The government’s strategy to stop the conflict is based on reasserting territorial control, which began by sending the air force and navy to the 27 counties of the state, with helicopters and ships. Next on the agenda is to actually capture the cartel members, and for that, vigilantes are invaluable with their knowledge of the ground and of who's who.
“The most important asset of the vigilantes is not their weapons but their wealth of information,” Castillo said. “That is what we are focusing our efforts on, providing them with safety in exchange of information.”
The commissioner also explained how the vigilantes need to turn into “rural guards,” an outdated security figure from the 19th century that might be brought back by the government. They would receive training and weapons licenses.
Castillo believes the nail in the coffin of the Templarios will come from choking off their source of income. That would be accomplished by revising all licenses and ownership of local businesses and industries, like mining, to make sure they are not in the traffickers' hands, as well as monitoring the exports from the biggest port, Lázaro Cárdenas.