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Viewing cable 09MEXICO1020, THREE CONGRESSIONAL CHAIRMAN BRING MESSAGE OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MEXICO1020 2009-04-08 13:01 2011-01-23 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Mexico
INFO  LOG-00   AID-00   CIAE-00  INL-00   DEAE-00  DOEE-00  DS-00    
      DHSE-00  OIGO-00  VCI-00   H-00     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    
      L-00     MOFM-00  MOF-00   VCIE-00  NSAE-00  ISN-00   NSCE-00  
      OMB-00   PA-00    PM-00    GIWI-00  PRS-00   P-00     ISNE-00  
      DOHS-00  FMPC-00  SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    TRSE-00  T-00     
      NCTC-00  R-00     IIP-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-00   
      G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00   FA-00    SWCI-00    /000W
                  ------------------4FD446  081414Z /38    

R 081355Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5980
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
HQ USNORTHCOM
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L MEXICO 001020


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2017
TAGS: PREL SNAR MX
SUBJECT: THREE CONGRESSIONAL CHAIRMAN BRING MESSAGE OF
SUPPORT TO PRESIDENT CALDERON

Classified By: CDA Leslie Bassett for reasons 1.4 (b,d)

1. (C) Summary: Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Chair of the House
Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence (HPSCI), joined by
Rep. Ike Skelton, Chair of the House Armed Services
Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, visited Mexico March 26-27 to convey a
message of support to President Felipe Calderon. During a
cordial meeting with the President the three chairmen
emphasized that the U.S. would support Mexico for the "long
haul" in the effort against organized crime, offered to do
what was possible to expedite Merida support, and expressed
their personal appreciation for President Calderon's courage.
The President responded by highlighting the urgent need for
non-invasive inspection equipment to allow Mexico to conduct
in-bound inspections to interdict assault weapons. "You can
count on me," he told the chairmen, not just in the effort
against drug cartels but also as a proponent within the
region for free trade and rule of law. The chairmen also
attended a small country team briefing and held a press
conference before departing. In addition, Rep. Skelton laid
a wreath at the monument to Mexico's child martyrs. Codel
members did not clear this cable. End Summary.

The Changing Attitude of the Cartels
------------------------------------

2. (C) President Calderon opened substantive discussion by
describing changes in cartel operations over the last ten
years which led up to today's scenario in which they used
assault weapons to defend territory which they needed both to
access U.S. markets and to expand Mexican markets for drugs.
Between 2000 and 2004 the Government of Mexico seized 3000
assault weapons. Once the U.S. ban on assault weapons was
lifted in 2004 the numbers spiked dramatically, Calderon
continued. Between 2007 and 2009, over 15000 such weapons
have been seized, including missile launchers, AK-47s and
Barret 50 calibres. The heavy weapons were used by criminal
organizations to confront government entities, to intimidate
local officials and law enforcement, and to wage battle
against other cartels. Calderon argued for a reinstatement
of the assault weapons ban. Meanwhile the government was
working to keep the pressure on the cartels. Calderon said
he was also working to reinforce the presence of the
government throughout Mexico, especially in areas of
vulnerability such as Ciudad Juarez. Since the government
deployed 5000 troops to the city the murder rate had fallen
70 percent. Calderon noted that using the military was a
short term solution so at the same time he was insisting that
mayors and state governors meet their responsibility to
provide order. Federal support is conditioned on locals
vetting police, increasing recruitment and providing the
necessary equipment and training.

The Challenge of Corruption
---------------------------

3. (C) Calderon noted the challenge of corruption,
recounting that the former head of security in Ciudad Juarez
was under arrest in Texas for transporting a ton of
marijuana. "In order to fight corruption you must sweep the
stairs from top to bottom," Calderon continued. Already
almost half of the highest level government officials had
been vetted, Calderon reported, as part of "Operation
Limpieza." His personal goal was to leave behind a clean,
credible police, Attorney General's staff, army and navy.
But he needed more support from local authorities and
governors to do the same at their level -- some were more
committed than others.

4. (C) Calderon briefly outlined his strategy to both
confront crime and build Mexico's institutions. First, he
said, was to improve technological capabilities by
integrating criminal, police and judicial information in
Plataforma Mexico. Second was to establish a national
ballistics registry that would allow them to trace weapons
used in criminal acts more efficiently. Third was legal
reforms leading to oral trials under an accusatory system.
And fourth was a more aggressive prevention strategy to
rescue public spaces from traffickers, ensure schools were
safe, and prevent and treat addiction more effectively.

5. (C) Asked about US military weapons and night vision
equipment being used by cartels, Calderon said such
instances, if they occurred were exceptions. However, the
cartels were always looking to upgrade their equipment and
sensationalize their tactics. There were reports, for
example, that the cartels had plotted to take down his plane
using grenade launchers, although in the end nothing had
happened. Their use of torture and mutilation of bodies
shows their decision to move to a higher profile in their
effort against government entities. In a confrontation with
police in Hidalgo criminals had thrown grenades, killing at
least one officer. Calderon went on to say he believes the
cartels have powerful links to the U.S. and could one day use
the same kinds of aggressive techniques against U.S. law
enforcement unless we are mutually successful.

Merida Priorities
-----------------

6. (C) Turning to Merida, Calderon said one thing Mexico
needed was more access to information and intelligence
developed by the United States. Thanks to equipment the U.S.
had provided the government had managed to thwart a planned
assassination of a key politician in one state. The
cross-border nature not just of the illicit narcotics trade
but of the criminals behind it meant the U.S. and Mexico had
to work closely together. Calderon noted the murder of a
U.S. Marshal in Ciudad Juarez, expressing his condolences and
his commitment that there would be a full investigation into
the matter. Calderon went on to say that another Merida
priority for him was non-invasive inspection equipment which
Mexico needed urgently to expand inbound inspections of
travelers/cargo from the U.S. as well as to deploy along
Mexico's southern border. Rep. Berman assured Calderon that
the U.S. was committed to supporting him, and that Speaker
Pelosi was very interested in seeing what Merida assistance
could be accelerated.

The Military-to-Military Relationship
-------------------------------------

7. (C) Chairman Skelton inquired about the
military-to-military relationship and how that was evolving.
Calderon replied that today the Mexican army was beginning to
see the benefit of cooperating with the U.S. "I have the
full support of the army to establish better cooperation with
the U.S. army, " Calderon stated. He added that he had told
the army to "do what it takes" with the U.S. army in order to
beat back the cartels.

Sustaining Public Support
-------------------------

8. (C) "We will not sentence future generations to more
violence," Calderon continued, noting that of the 6500
murders last year, 65 percent were concentrated in three
states (Chihuahua, Baja California and Sinaloa) and over 90
percent of the victims had some kind of tie to criminal
activity. Asked if there was political momentum to go back
to the old practice of looking the other way, Calderon
replied, "There is a serious risk." Certain sectors in the
past made informal agreements with criminals in exchange for
a degree of security, and they are arguing for that again.
But, Calderon continued, his commitment was to enforce the
law.

The Opportunity for the U.S.
---------------------------

9. (C) As the meeting ended, Rep. Berman asked about
prospects for the Summit of the Americas. Calderon replied
that President Obama has an opportunity to recover U.S.
leadership in the region. His charisma, his positions, all
resonated with Latin America very positively. It wouldn't be
easy, as there were some "tough guys" in the neighborhood,
Calderon pointed out. The Mexican leader said he finds
himself "almost alone" in defending free markets, human
rights and the rule of law. But just as Secretary Clinton
offered a fresh message during her visit to Mexico, President
Obama had the same opportunity to invigorate the dialogue
with the entire region.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /


BASSETT