Stratfor and Maite Perroni

Friday, February 10, 2012
In this Stratfor article Scott Stewart discusses the upcoming Mexican Presidential election which is happening against the backdrop of the Mexican government's war against the drug cartels. 

There are rumors that the currennt President, Felipe Calderon, may try for an 'October surprise' by arranging for the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

Stewart explains why that would be difficult. You can read the start of the article below, and follow the link to Stratfor where you can read it in its entirety.

Since the article dealt with Mexico, for its Hot Stratfor babe I looked to Mexican telenovas for an actress and selected Maite Perroni, who is also a singer, for the honor.

Ms Perroni started her acting career in the telenova, which is a type of Latin American soap opera, Rebelde. In it she played a poor girl who, due to her good grades, was sent to the Elite Way School, which is a prestigious private boarding high school in Mexico City. One of the major plots of the show revolves around a group of the students trying to form a musical group.

That was to lead to her second career as a singer, because RBD, the group from the show, was to have an extremely successful run as an actual singing group. They sold over 20 million albums world-wide and were even nominated for a Latin Grammy. I watched a couple of their videos on YouTube, and they are pretty much cookie cutter pop musicians.

Maite has since gone on to star in several other novellas and has an active and successful singing career to go along with her acting. I think she speaks English as well, so I wouldn'y be surprised if she eventually tried to cross-over to Hollywood as well.

Mexico's Presidential Election and the Cartel War
By Scott Stewart, February 9,2012

Mexico will hold its presidential election July 1 against the backdrop of a protracted war against criminal cartels in the country. Former President Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) launched that struggle; his successor, Felipe Calderon, also of the PAN, greatly expanded it. While many Mexicans apparently support action against the cartels, the Calderon government has come under much criticism for its pursuit of the cartels, contributing to Calderon's low popularity at the moment. The PAN is widely expected to lose in July to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controlled the Mexican presidency for most of the 20th century until Fox's victory in 2000. According to polls, the PAN has lost credibility among many Mexican voters, many of whom also once again view the PRI as a viable alternative.

In our effort to track Mexico's criminal cartels and to help our readers understand the dynamics that shape the violence in Mexico, Stratfor talks to a variety of people, including Mexican and U.S. government officials, journalists, business owners, taxi drivers and street vendors. At present, many of these contacts are saying that the Calderon administration could attempt to pull off some sort of last-minute political coup (in U.S. political parlance, an "October surprise") to boost the PAN's popularity so it can retain the presidency.

The potential election ploy most often discussed is the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, who is widely believed to be the richest, most powerful drug trafficker anywhere. The reasoning goes that if the government could catch Guzman, Calderon's (and hence the PAN's) popularity would soar.

Still, very real questions exist about whether such an operation really would give the PAN the boost it needs to retain the presidency, however. North of the border, the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama has not been guaranteed by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden. Political considerations aside, the factors that have helped Guzman avoid capture thus far are the very same factors that inhibit the Mexican government's ability to capture him. While we don't put a lot of stock in these rumors of an election surprise, we do see them as a good reason to examine the factors that have protected Guzman.

Plata o Plomo

As we noted in our annual cartel report, Mexico's cartels have begun to form into two major groupings around the two most powerful cartels, the Sinaloa cartel and Los Zetas. These two cartels approach business quite differently. The common Mexican cartel expression "plata o plomo" (literally translated as "silver or lead," the Spanish phrase signifying that a cartel will force one's cooperation with either a bribe or a bullet) illustrates the different modes of operation of the two hegemonic cartels.

Los Zetas, an organization founded by former Mexican special operations soldiers, tends to apply a military solution to any problem first -- plomo. They certainly bribe people, but one of their core organizational values is that it is cheaper and easier to threaten than to bribe. Rather than retain people on their payroll for years, Los Zetas also tend toward a short time horizon with bribery.

By contrast, people like Guzman and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia, founders of the Sinaloa cartel, have been producing and trafficking narcotics for decades. Guzman and Zambada got their start in the trafficking business working for Miguel "El Padrino" Angel Felix Gallardo, the leader of the powerful Guadalajara cartel in the early 1980s. Because they have been in the illicit logistics business for decades, the Sinaloa leaders are more business-oriented than military-oriented. This means that the Sinaloa cartel tends to employ plata first, preferring to buy off the people required to achieve its objectives. It also frequently provides U.S. and Mexican authorities with intelligence pertaining to its cartel enemies rather than taking direct military action against them, thus using the authorities as a weapon against rival cartels. While Sinaloa does have some powerful enforcement groups, and it certainly can (and does) resort to ruthless violence, violence is merely one of the many tools at its disposal rather than its preferred approach to a given problem.

Thus, Sinaloa and Los Zetas each use the same set of tools, they just tend to use them in a different order.

Guzman's Web

Within his home territory of rural Sinaloa state, Guzman is respected and even revered. An almost-mythical figure, he has used his fortune to buy good will and loyalty in his home turf and elsewhere. In addition to his public largesse, Guzman has bribed people for decades. Unlike Los Zetas, the Sinaloa cartel leadership tends to take a long view on corruption. It will often recruit a low-level official and then continue to pay that person as he rises through the ranks. This long-term approach is not unlike that taken by some of the more patient intelligence services, along the lines of the Soviet recruitment of the "Cambridge Five" while they were still students. Quite simply, Guzman and the Sinaloa cartel have had police and military officers, politicians, journalists and judges on their payroll for years and even decades.

Continue reading Mexico's Presidential Election and the Cartel War at Strafor.