HERMOSILLO, Sonora. - The lingering effects of the U.S. recession -- worsened by the turmoil in the global financial markets -- have had a visible negative impact here in Mexico. Although not necessarily more critical than those caused by the relentless violence that, like poverty, is affecting millions from the southern to the northern border.
There is already a complex mixture of components shaping the domestic landscape at the time that the United States debuts an ambassador to Mexico, that information about the existence of two secret U.S. intelligence bases on Mexican territory is disclosed, and that both sides of the border are preparing presidential campaigns: a succession of possible partisan alternation for Los Pinos, headquarters of the Mexican government, and an ambitioned reelection to the White House.
The scenario for Mexico (and its 52 million poor) further worsens due to the juncture that sets the country between its huge trade dependence, and the political allegiance that -- whether admitted or not -- it renders to the United States.
In this context, the newly appointed ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne (a career diplomat whose track-record includes serving as second in command of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as experience in two areas presumably valuable to Mexicans: economic development and counterterrorism) should beyond simulation, contribute to redefine the priorities of the bilateral agenda.
There is also added tension because Uncle Sam has concluded that the monetary support granted to the Merida Initiative and other resources provided for the war on drugs, have not produced the expected outcome. But there has been a strategy change that counts with the Mexican government's acquiescence.
According to The New York Times, the U.S. is "sending new C.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results."
Moreover, the Times revealed the existence of a secret base "north of the country" where U.S. agents allegedly collect and receive information from Mexican agencies, while engaged in operational planning and making efforts "to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption."
La Jornada reported that senior Mexican officials are functioning as informants to service agencies in the United States. They point directly to the Attorney General's Office, Marisela Morales, and the head of the Ministry of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna.
The daily also cites the existence of another "fusion intelligence center" located on Paseo de la Reforma 225 (Mexico City) and claims espionage practices in the country are the result of a pact between the leaders of the two countries.
"Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama agreed to the complex technical and institutional framework for espionage, more than 18 months ago," says the newspaper on its August 11 edition.
Journalist Rafael Cardona raised the issue in La Cronica de Hoy:
"But instead of wrapping ourselves in the flag, we should thank the Mexican government for bringing us to a condition of dependence and intrusion, typical of military occupation in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, as referred to by the NYT, coincidentally just days after a visit of support to the drug war by Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's president, who told members of the Mexican Council of International Affairs that U.S. military bases in his country, as part of Plan Colombia, are a myth.
And perhaps Santos told the truth: there are no military bases in Colombia or Mexico, there are national bases which house the U.S. military agents. It is cheaper, and less evident."
Then Cardona writes:
"The building (located over Reforma in Mexico City) hosts the headquarters of the agents of the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), representatives of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and the Treasury and even the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF,) whose most significant contribution to the gringo-Mexican good relations was the beautiful operation "Fast and Furious" after which the Mexican government was incapable to issue a formal protest."
If for one part Mexico is "Ground Zero" of the antinarcotics battle -- with everything that it implies -- on the other, the public opinion increasingly acknowledges that the drug war ownership is not only Mexico's, but is the United States' and for the United States. That is why it is executed under their strategies and their own timelines.
But the timeline of politics is not the people timeline. While Calderon takes care of concealing the impoverishment of Mexicans under his optimistic rhetoric, of denying the over flight of drones on the Mexican side, of picking up the dead bodies for the remainder of his term and packing his bags; Obama does his thing in regards to his own poor, whose quantity is about 43.6 million (one in seven people or 14.3 percent), is dedicated to minimize the problems shared with Mexico, to observe from the pulpit his beaten economy and to mend its image of weakened leadership in preparation for his attempt to be reelected.
So, Washington does not contemplate nor will attempt to cut the drugs supply intended for its homeland market (in the most recent figure -- conservatively -- over twenty million consumers), because like Calderon, has no real strategy for doing so: even with all the technology, resources and intelligence owned. The reason is simple: it is not their priority and it's not on their interest.
In this bilateral relationship both, the trade partnership and the alleged alliance in the fight against drug trafficking are market matters. Matters of supply and demand.
Drugs, weapons and human beings will continue to be sold. Mexico is flagrantly subdued by the United States. Under their own terms and by their own timelines.