"To a certain extent, we’re armoring NAFTA."
This excellent article spolights the growing US buildup of the Mexican military essentially to act as a shield for a repressive and devastating new economic order under NAFTA. The perils to both dissent in the short-term and long-term instituional democracy in Mexico should be apparent.
However, the bloody wars among narco-traficantes–aided and abetted by sections of the MExican political Establishment, armed forces and police– adds an extra dimension of complexity that I would like to see Harris tackle in more depth. The deaths of 23,000 or more caused by the drug wars are in fact a threat to civilized life in Mexico, and demand an effective response from the governments of the US and Mexico. Of course, the present direction of such efforts will only intensify the problems and enable the military to better crush dissent.
"NAFTA was to be extended to the realm of security and defense via SPP [Secruity and Prosperity Partnership], a highly secretive regional security initiative launched between President Bush, Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005. Quietly launched by the Bush administration, the SPP circumvents elected legislatures, media scrutiny, and general public oversight entirely. In this sense, it is not a treaty or law (which would require consent of the public), but a loose network of interests collaborating behind closed doors as a means of not only enhancing the architecture of NAFTA, but as a way of institutionalizing the infamous Bush National Security Strategy of 2002, the most hegemonic expression of American power since the Monroe Doctrine. Thomas Shannon, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, described SPP’s purpose with revealing candor: "To a certain extent, we’re armoring NAFTA." Mexicans and other Latin Americans have learned that adopting the U.S.-promoted neoliberal economic model—with its economic displacement and social cutbacks—comes with a necessary degree of force, but this was the first time that a U.S. official had stated outright that regional security was now about protecting a regional economic model.
"The latest step forward is Plan Mexico (also known as the Merida Initiative), passed by Congress, and signed into law by Bush in June 2008, which allocates $400 million to Mexico for 2008-09. The original plan foresees about $1.4 billion over a 3-year period to the Mexican military, police, and judicial systems for training and equipment. Plan Mexico is an adjunct to SPP with the expressed intent of arming Mexican security forces in order to protect the "shared economic space" of North America. Hiding behind an empty gesture to combat the deadly drug trade along the Mexican-American border, the Bush administration set in motion a scheme to militarize North America, including widespread border and domestic surveillance and expansion of the private prison complex, allegedly to combat increasing illegal immigration and underground criminal networks. The counter-terrorism/drug war model elaborated in the SPP and embodied later in Plan Mexico encourages a crackdown on grassroots dissent to assure that no force, domestic or foreign, effectively questions the future of the system."