While the "Queen of Chaos" Hillary Clinton has been wrapping up the nomination for the Democratic Party this week, a detailed report was issued by the Open Society Foundation on the drug war in Mexico that casts further negative light on her tenure as Secretary of State.
Focusing on a nine-year period between 2006 and December 2015, the Open Society investigation determined that Mexican police and security forces routinely used torture methods to obtain confessions, and were connected to forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which were rarely investigated let alone prosecuted.
As Secretary of State, Clinton moved to aggressively expand the Obama administration's Plan Mérida which has provided over $2.5 billion for the War on Drugs, in addition to around one billion dollars in arms that the United States sells to Mexico annually.
The State Department under Clinton's direction, as Jesse Franzblau reported in The Nation, worked to bolster Mexico's wiretap capabilities, provided communications systems and computers, and installed information sharing software, biometric databases, and radar systems. It also peddled Blackhawk helicopters, surveillance aircrafts, satellites, and all-terrain vehicles, and built joint-intelligence fusion centers for targeting high-value cartel leaders.
Raising serious questions of conflict of interest, several of the contractors profiting from U.S. security assistance including General Electric, Lockheed and United Technologies which owns Sikorsky contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
Other contractors infamous for their role in War on Terror like DynCorp and L-3 Communications (an outgrowth of Military Professional Resources Inc.) performed vital intelligence and police training functions under Clinton's oversight that contributed to the climate of violence. Videos even surfaced showing contractors employed by Risks Inc. training an elite police unit in torture techniques.
American weapons were at times used by the Mexican army to suppress peasant uprisings in Chiapas and Oaxaca provinces driven by rampant inequalities and to force the displacement of peasants to make way for megaprojects by multi-national mining corporations, as Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda report in Drug War Mexico.
Abel Barren, director of a human rights group in Mexico's Guerrero Province told journalist Dawn Paley that "the War on Drugs is no less than continuing to use military force to contain nonconformist, disruptive movements, groups in resistance, and collectives who raise their voices."
Drug supply rates were little affected overall by Plan Mérida as the Coast Guard only had money to go after 39 percent of drug vessels and the cartels used underground tunnels and high-speed submarines("narco-subs") that traveled 80 to 90 percent below the sea's surface and could go 2,500 miles without refueling. They also concealed drugs in jalapeno peppers and fish imports, garnering over $3 billion in profits per year. When an electronic fence was built in Arizona along the border, the Sinaola cartel used catapults to launch drugs over the fence. Michael Braun, D.E.A. chief of operations, told a reporter: "We've got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology."
President Felipe Calderon's drug czar, Noe Ramirez meanwhile accepted $450,000 in bribes each month, while secretary of public security, Genaro Garcia Luna, acquired sudden personal wealth and threatened to kill journalists who exposed government corruption. Edgardo Buscaglia, of the UN anti-corruption task force, noted that of the 53,174 arrests made from 2006 to 2010, only 941 were associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose leader Juaqin "El Chapo" Guzman had assisted Calderon's rise to power.
Journalist Anabel Hernandez wrote that what Mexico was experiencing was "not a war on drug traffickers but a war between drug traffickers, with the government taking sides for the Sinaloa Cartel."
From the 1970s onwards, the United States government has used narcotics control as a rationalization for supplying military equipment and police training to strategic allies which the U.S. public would normally repudiate because of their repressive character. It has at the same time covertly supported drug traffickers that keep the trade out of the hands of left-wing or guerrilla groups.
Clinton and her associates repeated many of the familiar tropes about supporting good government and reforming police institutions as a precondition for drug war aid.
However, the Open Society Foundation report emphasizes the prevalence of militarized law enforcement in Mexico, which American initiatives under Clinton's leadership contributed significantly to.
Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, having apparently convinced many people that she is a champion of progressive causes and standard-bearer of the women's liberation movement.
However, her enthusiastic championing of the drug war in Mexico is a black spot on her record. Along with her backing aggressive wars and coups, it should leave voters leery about her character and sickened by a two-party system that leaves someone like her as the only "liberal" hope.
Jeremy Kuzmarov is the author of a book on the War on Drugs, The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs (Massachusetts, 2009).