Monday, June 4, 2007
Mexico, Central America and USA Security Accords
By Barnard R. Thompson
Those who spend their awakened hours degrading and condemning Mexico and/or the United States
need to wipe the stupor from their eyes — and to broaden their myopic horizons.
This meaning outspoken and belligerent activists on one side or the other, as well as egocentric and self-anointed
media pundits bent on opinionated and one-sided tirades that all too often forgo unbiased and constructive reason for emotion,
rabble-rousing and ratings.
For regardless of the histrionics and jaded views, unprecedented and promising progress is being
made in efforts towards bilateral (and multilateral) cooperation, which should also lead to other goals and accomplishments.
The Coronel Enrique Soto
Cano Air Base, located some 50 miles northwest of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, is home to Joint Task Force
(JTF) Bravo, a component of the U.S. Southern Command. Formed as Joint Task Force
11 in 1983, and later JTF-Alpha, it was renamed JTF-Bravo in 1984.
According to an unclassified USSOUTHCOM report,
Command Strategy for 2016, “JTF-Bravo operates a forward, all-weather day/night C-5-capable airbase.
JTF–Bravo organizes multilateral exercises and supports, in cooperation with our partner nations, humanitarian
and civic assistance, counterdrug, contingency and disaster relief operations in Central America.”
Today JTF-Bravo also supports Mexico and Central American nations with intelligence and orientation
in “counter narco-terrorism” operations.
In late May, at the Soto Cano Air Base, James G. Williard, Deputy Chief of Mission with the U.S.
Embassy in Honduras, told those present that within two months Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States would have
a proposed regional security plan ready. According to Williard, the main objectives
of the multinational plan are to stop the development and spread of drug trafficking in the region; to halt the flow of undocumented
migrants towards the United States; to prevent people trafficking and arms smuggling; and to bridle criminal gangs like the
Mara and Mara Salvatrucha.
Part of a coordinated strategy, reportedly the new regional security plan was proposed to Guatemalan
President Oscar Berger, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón, by U.S. President George W. Bush during his March 2007 visit
to their two countries.
Also in May, the Mexican government officially
created a new task force-like entity as part of its National Security Council, both being under the jurisdiction of the Interior
Ministry (Gobernación). As of May 29, the High-level Specialized Committee
on Disarmament, Terrorism, and International Security (CEAN) will coordinate federal actions in order for the Mexican government
to better comply with international commitments, according to the published order.
The National Security
and Investigation Center (CISEN, Mexico’s intelligence and security counterpart
to the CIA), which too is part of Gobernación, will have certain control responsibilities
in connection with the CEAN. Yet the CEAN will also be involved in the collection
of intelligence, and with the exchange of information to partner nations.
The CEAN, as “an adjunct agency of the National
Security Council, will [be] responsible for international liaison and domestic coordination,” the order states.
An Under-secretary of the Interior will preside
over the CEAN, and other executive members will include Under-secretaries of Foreign Relations, National Defense, Navy, Public
Security, Finance and Public Credit, and Communications and Transportation, as well as a Deputy Attorney General, and a top-level
It will have six working groups: Nuclear Weapons;
Chemical and Biological Weapons; Conventional Weapons; the Fight Against Terrorism; Legal and Administrative Harmonization;
and International Security.
In addition to disarmament, terrorism, and/or
international security matters, the CEAN will propose legislative measures in order to update Mexico’s legal framework
to coordinate with international treaties and other signatory accords. And it
will address foreign trade issues, in connection with imports and exports.
Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s Secretary of
Foreign Relations, noted on May 28 that the Mexican government is in talks with the United States in order to strengthen and
broaden cooperative security programs, and to increase efficiency in the fight against transnational crime — especially
narcotics and arms trafficking, and money laundering. “Mexico has had a
number of cooperative programs with the United States and Canada, and currently we are holding talks in order to strengthen
the cooperation,” Espinosa said.
Subsequently, according to news reports, she said
that work has begun with Central American nations on a joint and regional anti-narcotics trafficking and related crimes project.
Yet Espinosa emphasized that “Mexico’s
bilateral cooperation with the United States will not have a Plan Colombia.” Meaning
that while current and future collaboration involving Mexico and the United States is expected to improve, the presence of
US troops in Mexico will not be agreed to nor permitted.
Barnard Thompson, editor of MexiData.info, has spent nearly 50 years in Mexico and Latin America, providing multinational clients with actionable intelligence;
country and political risk reporting and analysis; and business, lobbying, and problem resolution services. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.