“A Veces el Cielo Niega La Lluvia”Apr 7th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime, Politics
Email Facebook Twitter Post to Delicious Stumble This Post Buzz This Post Digg This Post
THE BORDER REPORT
He looks damned good for 62 years old; chesty, thick working man arms, that haughty look, the upturned chin. Life must be pretty good for a man supposedly on the run. Pablo Escobar was burning piles of money to keep warm; he was over-weight, out-of-shape, paranoid and thoroughly spooked when he went down. Ismael El Mayo Zambada? Not so much.
By now I’ve had a chance to re-read Mayo’s interview a few times, I’m sure you have, too. He reveals little; or rather, the interview reveals little. He denies that Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán ever married that beauty queen. He denies the importance of Chapo’s placement on Forbes’ list of billionaires. He even denies that he himself is a drug lord, let alone one of Mexico’s most powerful. The old man’s been running circles around the Justice Department since the Reagan Administration, after all. There is little in terms of the braggadocio you might expect from a man of his stature in the world of organized crime. Instead, he claims he is a cattle rancher and a farmer but if he can open a business in the United States, he’d like to do so (that can also be interpreted as if he can open a “negotiation with” the United States, he’d like to do so … ) Oh, and the war on drugs is lost.
In fact, his interview with Proceso Magazine’s Julio Scherer reads much like the interviews conducted with Eduardo Arellano Felix in 2002 (“No ganaron. Estoy aquí, y nada ha cambiado,”), Sandra Avíla Beltrán in 2009 (“La violencia está en el propio Gobierno.” also with Scherer, now that I think about it) and the wife of Vicente Carrillo Leyva, Celia Karina, (Yo digo que el Gobierno debería agarrar a las personas que realmente hacen cosas. Pero agarrar inocentes para decir que están trabajando en el narcotráfico) eso es una injusticia.) Also with Proceso.
The only question I have is why now? Mayo approached Proceso with the interview offer, because, he says, he’s always wanted to meet Scherer. And it’s been taken up on this site and in many Mexican media, that this was an individual decision perhaps done so for personal reasons. Because his son is in prison, maybe because he’s sick, maybe just old and tired and his perspective has changed. I disagree.
Mayo Zambada is part of a syndicate, he is not a lone operator. This is not El Viceroy Vicente Carrillo or Fernando Sanchez Arellano. This is a senior member of a powerful cartel protected, whether through neglect or complicity, by the government of Mexico. Mayo Zambada did not wake up one day in February and decide he wanted to meet Julio Scherer. This was calculated, the question is, by whom? The Sinaloa Federation or the Mexican government?
Start with the publication. Proceso has become an odd little magazine over the years. Started in 1976, the magazine had a near-vendetta for the PAN political party, attacking Pres. Vicente Fox Quesada nearly every chance they had. They invented quotes putting Fox in a negative light; went after Marta Sahagún, Fox’s wife, and publicly declared that her son was meeting with representatives of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán.
Then in 2008, they went after Sonora Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo. I’ll never forget that particular story for this sentence (recall that Bours’ family owns Bachoco, the largest poultry company in Mexico):
“Y avicultores de Ciudad Obregón y de Hermosillo comentan al reportero que la empresa Bachoco opera, con licencias oficiales, la importación de efedrina. Esta sustancia –comúnmente utilizada para la elaboración de medicamentos (entre ellos los antigripales) y por cuyo manejo discrecional saltó a la fama el empresario chino Zhenli Ye Gon– sirve para mezclarla con el alimento que consumen los pollos criados por Bachoco. El consumo de efedrina permite que los pollos no duerman en un lapso de al menos ocho semanas. De esa manera, el pollito ‘se la pasa comiendo de día y de noche’, según relata a Proceso un empresario avícola.”
Translation: Growers from Obregón and Hermosillo tell the reporter that Bachoco conducts, under official license, the importation of ephedrine. This substance, commonly produced for cold medicine – and other discretionary uses like that leading to the fame of Zhenli Ye Gon – is also served in the food consumed by the poultry grown by Bachoco. The consumption ensures that the chickens don’t sleep for at least eight weeks. In this manner, ‘the fowl keeps eating day and night … “
What do Bours and Fox have in common? Or rather, what did they have in common? Bours served as the governor’s representative to the Security Committee; the committee that in 2005, agreed to Operation México Seguro. Remember that one? That’s the federal operation that started the militarization fiasco now over-taking Juárez, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
In 2006, Bours backed Felipe Calderón for the presidency, pulling away from his own party, the PRI. His backing, one of only three PRI governors to do so, but also one of the most powerful, ensured Calderón’s victory against Andres Lopez Obradór in an otherwise very tight election.
And now El Mayo surfaces.
I can nearly understand why he would be chosen as the consiglierie. Historically, he’s been the calmest of the crowd; he’s no Chapo, he was only tangentially connected to the Guadalajara Cartel blamed for the murder of the DEA agent in the 1980s. He’s never done anything outlandish like introduce the Zetas into the political theater of Mexico’s narcotics business. He’s as good a diplomat as the Mexican cartel figures could hope for.
In many ways, and it’s been pointed out by readers of this site already, he’s also a good front-man for a certain character sketch of Mexican drug lords. Humble, independent, rugged; born of the Sierra, with his wife and his daughters, and he cries for his incarcerated son and drops beautiful quotes about the freedom offered by the heavens.
Very much a public relations move. But was it one conducted by the Sinaloa Federation or the government of Mexico?
And that is the question we should be asking.