Indigenous Mexico, NAFTA and US National Security
in the 21st Century

Bill Weinberg

Since the dramatic New Years Day 1994 uprising of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas, the mountains of southern Mexico have been suspended precariously between war and peace. The Maya rebels launched their revolution on the day NAFTA took effect, proclaiming the treaty a "death sentence" for Mexico's Indians. After twelve days of war, the EZLN agreed to a peace dialogue with the government. But the fruit of this dialogue, the San Andre's Accords, calling for constitutional changes recognizing the right of indigenous peoples to autonomous self-government, has been stalled for three years by the refusal of President Ernesto Zedillo to abide by them. A political stalemate and low-level counter-insurgency continue in Chiapas.

Meanwhile, indigenous rebellions are emerging up the isthmus in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero -- especially in the Sierra Madre del Sur, rugged lands of the Nahua, Mixtec, Amuzgo, Triqui and Zapotec peoples.

In 1996, a new indigenous rebel group, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), surfaced to ambush police and military patrols in the Sierra del Sur. Posing as more orthodox and militant than the EZLN, the EPR said it would never enter a dialogue with the government, but fight to take power.

In 1998, yet another group, the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI), split from the EPR, accusing its leadership of dogmatism and intolerance. The ERPI, drawing from the EZLN structure of grassroots decision-making, appeared to appropriate much of the EPR's support base in the Sierra del Sur. It is uncertain whether the recent arrest of the ERPI command will destroy the movement.

Meanwhile, civil indigenous and campesino rnovements throughout Mexico's sierras are arming in response to growing repression. And -- even if the US media have failed to report on these developments -- the strategic planners in the Pentagon and Washington's national security apparatus are taking note.

Return to the Sierra Madre del Sur

In November of 1998, my photographer and I drove all over the mountains of Guerrero and Oaxaca seeking a contact with the EPR (see "Mexico's Other Indian War," Native Americas, Spring 1999). People were generally afraid to talk. But we did plant a few seeds. In April 1999, back in New York, came the phone call: the ERPI was ready to meet me.

Back in Mexico City again, I was given the nascent guerilla organization's first internal document, entitled: Proposal: Thesis for Change (Our Basic Principles).

The manifesto mostly seemed to address the ERPI's differences with the EPR. "The fundamental commitment of the revolutionary is with the people," read point one. "No other commitment, neither personal or group, is above that." It rejected "the messianic conception by which revolutionary organizations have seen themselves as the representatives of the people, who can only participate in the revolution through their own intermediation."

Point two demanded "construction of Popular Power, beginning now, in every aspect and until the ultimate consequences." It called for formation of Insurgent Councils to wield executive power, and the preparation of "organs of legislative and judicial power in every zone, region and state," eventually readying a national Insurgent Popular Assembly. It quoted the Zapatista principle that the guerilla command should "lead by obeying." It credited the EZLN with "establishing a different relation" with the base, and cited the "obligation" to "find new and always better forms of applying this norm."

Point three stated: "Until now we have been concerned to build the Army of the Party; it is now the hour to build the Army of the People."1

As a condition of my meeting with the ERPI, I am constrained from revealing the location, but it was in the mountains of Guerrero. The state was more divided than ever. In February's elections, Rene Juarez of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won a narrow victory that the challenger Felix Salgado of the left-opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRI) charged was fraudulent. Federal authorities affirmed the victory, but thousands of Salgado supporters (including whole Mixtec communities) marched on Mexico City from Guerrero's capital, Chilpancingo, eleven days cross-country. There was still a permanent blockade of the governor's palace in Chilpancingo by PRD militants, forcing Juarez to work out of an ad hoc office in the governor's mansion.2

A long, dusty ride in back of a truck from a coastal farm town brought us to a small Indian pueblo far beyond where the pavement ends. It was on the electric grid, but water was piped down from the mountains to communal spigots. The women wore traditional dress, and spent much of the day weaving. The men mostly wore white campesino pajamas, and worked in the maize and sugarcane. It was clear that the pueblo was sharply divided. We stayed on the generally poorer PRD side of town, and waited. Our hosts fed us well on bean soup and atole and tortillas, but I sensed they were eating better than usual because of our presence.

After a week of waiting, we were led through the dusk to a rendezvous just outside the pueblo. Ten masked men with rifles, led by a Comandante Arturo, shook hands and saluted me and my companions. They were all young Indians, with a better command of their indigenous tongues than Spanish. They wore no uniforms, but a patchwork of ragged civies and camo. Their masks were bandanas, some cut with eye-slits. Their rifles were also a patchwork-- .22s, a shotgun, two cuernos de chivo ("goat horns"; AK-47s).

We marched up the mountainside, into the night. Near the summit I got winded, and was grateful when they slowed to accommodate me. As we descended the other side, pastureland gave way to bush. A big fire burned on an opposing slope, hanging like a beacon in the night. We descended steeply, towards the sound of running water, forded a river, and were told to make camp.

We woke up in a hidden valley, a pocket of tropical forest along the river that plunged in on a waterfall. The troops lined up for review by Comandante Arturo. I could tell he was smiling through his mask when he asked how I was feeling.

We were waiting for another columna -- this one members of the support base or militia, as opposed to Arturo's column of active combatants.

    Comandante Arturo told me; "We make reuniones with the people, guard the people against thieves, rustlers, highwaymen. We are ready to defend the people. Thievery has stopped since the column was formed." Arturo said his column had already been in combat with bandits, but not government troops.

    "I grew up witnessing the injustice," said Arturo, who was perhaps twenty. "The army and police stopped the buses and robbed the campesinos. Since we formed our army, this is not as much of a problem. They don't want to die."

He called this work "propaganda armada."

    "We take our orders from the communities," Arturo said. "The high command supports us, gives us supplies, boots, food." He said there were other columns throughout the mountains. Each column has a commandante -- a rotating position. Their troops are called combatientes, and their own superiors are capitanes , who oversee several columns. Arturo said some capitanes are "people of the city," but many are Indian as well.

    Their army is "pure indigenous people," Arturo said. "We want the gente indigena to have respect and to govern themselves as they want to. Now the local governments are imposed by the rich, by outsiders. If the government doesn't want war, it must answer us."

    My questions about ideology always met answers about day-to-day reality. "We are struggling to change the government to one which will aid the poor people here, all the people of Mexico," Arturo stated. "People need credit. People may have land but no tractor, no seeds."

    Is there enough land here for the people?, I asked.

    "There is great territory. The land can support us. But the PRIstas, the caciques [village bosses], rob all the aid that comes to our communities.

    They go to Chilpancingo to get money for irrigation, roads, and it all goes right into their pockets."

    I asked if they supported Felix Salgado as Guerrero's legitimate governor.

    "Yes. We are ready to offer any kind of support."

    I asked their thoughts on EZLN.

    "We support their struggle. They are also fighting for the poor. Their struggle is equal with ours."

    I asked if they had links to other guerillas.

    "There are various other armed groups with other names. We want to talk with them, bring ourselves together. We want to be united with all who are struggling against the evil government."

    I asked about the EPR.

     "The EPR doesn't do anything. They exist only in name. They were accustomed to work only with money. Us, without money -- here we go."

    The second column joined us a few hours after dawn, entering the valley from another direction, another pueblo. They wore campesino garb, pajamas rather than camo, huaraches rather than boots. Two carried rifle's, but most only machetes. There were two women -- one thick and gray-haired; one a young mother, breast-feeding a baby, a pistol stuck in her belt. All wore bandanas over their faces.

    Manuel was "director" of the committee that supports the column. In a soft-spoken, almost shy Indian voice, he said; "The indigenas here don't have electricity, health centers, potable water. We want a municipal presidency that fulfills its promises. Rene's people bought votes here -- ten pesos and a machete for each vote. For certain there will be war, because the government will not give in."

    Outside the municipal center, he said, practically everybody supports the columna. "The cabacera [municipal government] doesn't work with the communities. The majority of the people here are with our struggle."

    Jose, another member of the committee, had been working with the armed movement for four years -- first the EPR, then the ERPI. "Here in the indigenous zones of Mexico, there is no justice, no human rights. Every day the poverty advances. The government wants indigenous people to disappear. They want to impose the policy of modernity, promote consumerism. We want an economy that supports the family, that doesn't exploit. We want work with a just salary. Indian people have the ability to govern their own communities. But the government does not respect the vote. We are in arms because there is no other remedy."

    They said they mostly grew corn and beans for their own families -- what they sold was in their own pueblos. PRIstas maintained a near-monopoly on spaces in the municipal market.

    Government aid "is used only as propaganda for the PRI," Jose claimed. "You don't get aid if you don't support the PRI. If you oppose them, the police and the judge are the same PRIstas. We have land -- but if you are sick or in jail you can't work it. You are forced to sell it, and it is all you have."

    The meeting lasted into the afternoon, and was followed by some instruction in fighting skills. The two columns parted with salutes and handshakes in an orderly line, and the slogan -- "Con la lucha popular, el pueblo vencera."

    As the sun set, my companion and I were given an escort back over the mountain to our pueblo.

A Sigh of Grim Relief

    Once during our wait, some army trucks had rumbled through the pueblo, and I had been concerned about the possibility of encountering them with the columna , of course. When I picked up the newspapers after returning to Mexico City, I was doubly glad this had not passed. There had been several violent incidents in the mountains of Guerrero.

    On April 20, soldiers had entered Barrio Nuevo San Jose, an outlying Amuzgo hamlet in Tlacoachistlahuaca municipality. That day, a twelve-year-old boy, Antonio Mendoza Olivero, and the campesino Evaristo Albino Tellez disappeared. Two women searching for Albino and Antonio, who had never returned from their cornfield, were accosted by soldiers and raped. Neighbors, family and community leaders denounced the incident before the authorities in the nearby town of Ometepec. It wasn't until May 7 that the state Human Rights Defense Commission announced that the two bodies had been found in an Acapulco morgue. The army's version claimed the campesinos attacked them with firearms, and didn't mention the rapes. Tlacoachistlahuaca was subsequently occupied by hundreds of troops. 3

On May 2, army and state police at Pizotla, in Ajuchitlan del Progresso, had exchanged fire with men guarding opium and marijuana crops, leaving one dead. Two others were arrested, and several firearms seized. According to a Guerrero state police report, the men belonged to a new faction, the Armed Ecologist Group (GEA), who were growing pot to buy arms to defend their communal forests from timber exploitation. The army insisted the men were only narcotraficantes, but police sources in Ciudad Altamirano leaked the version that the detainees were "members of an ecologist guerilla organization."4 Rodolfo Montiel Flores, a Nahua campesino who had been leading blockades of the US mulfinational Boise Cascade's logging trucks with the Organization of Campesinos and Ecologists of the Sierra de Petatlan, was arrested. Montiel denied links to arms or drugs, and his family protested he was being held incommunicado.5

On May 7, another confrontation in Ajuchitlan del Progreso drew new blood. Army troops searching for "estupificantes" (drug crops) encountered ten armed men and exchanged fire, leaving one dead on each side. The following day, state police arrested a twenty-year old man after finding two AKs in his home. The traditional authorities in Coacoyul y Tizotla, where the incident took place, demanded his release and issued a statement accusing the army, police and Rene Juarez of "every repressive act against the population of the sierra."6

The Triple Alliance

I had one more meeting before returning to New York. This one was in the mountains of Morelos, just north of Guerrero. At a small pueblo in the land of Emiliano Zapata, I was guided blindfolded into a little adobe house and greeted by two elderly men and one young woman, all wearing bandanas over their faces. These were Don Miguel, Don Pepe and Combatiente Cecilia -- representatives of the most indigenist of Mexico's new insurgents: the National Indigenous Guerilla Triple Alliance (TAGIN).

The Triple Alliance is a joint command of three armed groups active in the Sierra del Sur, Morelos and Mexico state -- the Indigenous Campesino Revolutionary Army (ERIC), the Nationalist Army of Insurgent Indigenous Mexico (ENMII), and the Armed Campesino Command of Indigenous Liberation (COACUAULUYU). The last acronym forms the name of the Serpent Eagle, a high-ranking Aztec military order.

The guerilla federation's name also refers to the Triple Alliance of city-states that ruled the Mexica empire -- Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan (today all absorbed into the capital megalopolis). Each constituent group of the TAGIN contributes a member to the command triumverate, each with a code name taken from Mexica myth and history: Mixcoatl (a Nahuatl creation god, and the early Toltec warrior-king who fathered Quetzalcoatl), Ilhuicamina (the Nahuatl archer god and name assumed by the Aztec king Moctezuma I) and Tlacaelel (Moctezuma I's brother and Co-founder of the Mexica empire). The insignia of the guerilla alliance is the shield of Cuitlahuac, the penultimate Mexica king who rose against Cortez.

TAGIN's manifesto states, "we want a reformed constitution, based on the indigenous valors and rights of Anahuac," the ancient name for the Valley of Mexico and seat of the Mexica empire. It offers greetings and solidarity to the EZLN, EPR and ERPI, and calls upon them to "reactivate the armed struggle," as "twelve days of war is not sufficient to intimidate the government."7

TAGIN's comandancia answers to a Council of Elders from each community represented in the alliance. The minimum age to be a member of the Council of Elders is fifty-two years -- the basic cycle in the ancient Nahuatl calendar. TAGIN is seeking representatives on the Council of Elders from every indigenous ethnicity in Mexico. TAGIN's proposed constitutional changes call for the Consejo de Ancianos to share federal legislative power with the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

Don Pepe and Don Miguel were both on the Council of Elders. Their complaints were familiar ones. Said Don Miguel: "We need money for tractors, fertilizers, pumps, but there is no credit, and without it, the land won't produce, so we can't buy." Don Pepe stated: "We are concerned to conserve the traditions of our people, to be able to freely practice our ceremonies, to defend our autochthonous rights. The modern culture is destroying our pueblos."

When I tried to ask questions, they turned the interview over to Combatiente Cecilia, whose responses were terse and staccato.

What is TAGIN's proposal for governing Mexico? 

"Usos y costumbres" -- meaning the traditional system of indigenous village government.

Do you support the San Andre's Accords?


What are the principles of your internal structure?

"Democracy and military discipline."

Do you see any possibilities for dialogue with the government? "No. We intend to take power."

When are you ready to take up arms?

"When the Council of Elders orders."

The Challenge to Zapatismo

The EPR poses itself as more hard-left than the EZLN. EPR Comandante Jose Arturo openly stated to journalists at one clandestine-location press conference: "We seek power. We won't carry on a dialogue with the murderous government. The government is illegitimate." 8

In an interview with the weekly Proceso, EPR Comandante Jose Arturo took a more obvious stab at the EZLN's Subcommander Marcos, stating "poetry cannot be the continuation of politics by other means" -- a reference to the Clausewitzian definition of war and the Subcommander's verbose, sometimes obscurantist communique's.9

Marcos rebuffed an EPR offer of solidarity. Addressing the EPR in a communique', he expressed "respect" for their military tactics of "combined surprise and forcefulness," but stated: "You fight to take power. We fight for democracy, freedom and justice. Its not the same thing. Even if you are successful and win power, we will go on fighting for democracy, freedom and justice."10

But he also warned against any "game that promotes confrontation between the 'good' guerillas and 'bad' guerillas." 11

The fact that Emiliano Zapata was betrayed by a centralist state which only adapted elements of his program as a tactic of cooptation informs the EPR's rejection of the EZLN's "armed reformism." While the EZLN has evidenced greater internal cohesiveness, there were reports in 1996 of Chiapas campesinos growing frustrated with the stalemate and seeking contacts with the EPR.

The emergence of the ERPI points to a tilt back towards the Zapatista ethic in the Sierra del Sur. By 1999 there were reports that the EPR was seeking to eliminate the ERPI leadership.

On October 22, 1999, the Federal Preventative Police announced that they had arrested four EPRIstas at a safehouse in Chilpancingo, including two leaders of the organization -- Carlos Garcia Rosales ("Comandante Antonio") and Gloria Arenas Ajis ("Colonel Aurora").12 Rosales was said to be a founding member of the EPR and author of an ERPI document entitled Rumbo al 2000 calling for a nationwide campesino incurrection.13 Police also claimed to have confiscated a computer containing plans for developing ERPI cells in eight states.14  Col. Aurora was said to have been working in the Sierra de Zongolica in Veracruz.15

Police warned that they had identified fourteen guerilla organizations operating in twelve states from Chiapas to Chihuahua. 16 But the prognosis on violent factionalism was optimistic: they purported that the ERPI leadership, having won over sixty percent of the guerilla support base in Guerrero, "are threatened with death by the EPR."17

Regardless of which tendency prevails, and regardless of whether elements in the federal security apparatus view the EPR as useful provocateurs, the unrest creeping north along Mexico's spine is a threat to the stability of the continental Free Trade regime -- and assures that the US-Mexican economic integration will be mirrored in closer military cooperation.

Drug War as Counterinsurgency

In 1996, the annual US State Department report Patterns in Global Terrorism, invoked both the EZLN and the EPR: "In Mexico, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) carried out a series of small-scale attacks, killing 17 persons including several civilians, and the Zapafista National Liberation Army (EZLN) signed an agreement on indigenous peoples' rights with the government." This information is accurate, but implicitly assigns the label "terrorist."18 The EZLN stated upon taking up arms that it would abide by the Geneva Conventions,19 and has hardly fired a shot in anger since January 1994.

Former CIA Director John Deutch, writing on the global terrorist threat in Foreign Policy in 1997, stated: "Drawing the line between terrorism and insurgency can be difficult. In Mexico, for example, dissident groups such as the Popular Revolutionary Army in Guerrero and the Zapatista National Liberation Army in Chiapas seek to change the country's political and economic system. "20

Drawing the line between counterinsurgency and drug enforcement can also be difficult. The report Law Enforcement and the Mexican Armed Forces: The Military Undertakes New Internal Security Missions, produced by the US Army Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth in 1997, once again invoked the EZLN and the EPR: "Mexican internal security concerns began to intensify more than three years ago with the January 1994 appearance of the Zapatista National Liberation Army . . ." It acknowledged that anti-drug aid will be used for other purposes: "The distinction among drug traffickers, arms traffickers, other heavy armed criminal groups and bandits, or insurgents is often not a clear one. As a consequence, military support to law enforcement will certainly be directed against a variety of targets."21

Mexico's National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) has traditionally had one document discussing guerilla warfare, Manual of Irregular War. Under SEDENA doctrine, Mexico is a "revolutionary country"; therefore any rebel movement is considered "counterrevolutionary." The document ostensibly studies guerilla tactics to be adopted by the Mexican Army in the event of foreign occupation. In 1995, after the Chiapas revolt, SEDENA produced a second volume of the manual, entitled Counterguerilla Operations or Restoration of Order, maintaining that Mexicans "who take arms against legally constituted institutions . . . cannot be considered guerrilleros or belligerents, but can be treated as rebels . . . in this case, the armed forces conduct restoration of order operations."22

Counterguerilla Operations seeks to adopt the doctrine of "Guerra de Baja Intensidad" (GBI) to the Mexican reality. This doctrine, developed by the Pentagon in the Central America experience of the 1980s, is referred to in gringo military culture as Low Intensity Conflict (LIC). The 1986 Pentagon document defining the doctrine, the Joint Low-Intensity Conflict Project Final Report, openly stated the term "emerged as a euphemism for 'counterinsurgency' when that term lost favor" after the Vietnam War.23

The Pentagon document states: "Low-intensity conflict is neither war nor peace. . . .   The term 'low-intensity' suggests. . .a spectrum of warfare. Low-intensity conflict, however, cannot be understood to mean simply the degree of violence involved. Low-intensity conflict has more to do with the nature of the violence -- the strategy that guides it and the way individuals engage each other in it -- than with level or numbers . . . Low-intensity conflict is a limited politico-military struggle to achieve political, social, economic, or psychological objectives. It is often protracted and ranges from diplomatic, economic, and psychological pressures through terrorism and insurgency. Low-intensity conflict is generally confined to a geographical area and is often characterized by constraints on the weaponry, tactics, and the level of violence."24

The document openly places LIC in the context of Free Trade: "As a superpower in the nuclear age with an economy largely dependent upon an extensive, vulnerable overseas trade system, this country faces challenges that are far more troubling and complicated than those it faced before World War II." It discusses both terrorism and insurgency, stating that the latter "poses an open and direct threat to the ordering of society . . . For the United States, with extensive global interests and an economy increasingly reliant on a stable world order, the chronic instability in the third world is a serious concern."25

Since the "chronic instability" reached the USA's southern neighbor in no uncertain terms, the Pentagon has busily imparted this doctrine to the Mexican National Army. Between 1996 and 1997, the number of Mexican military officers receiving Pentagon training jumped from 300 to 1,500. A September 1997 report to Congress on the program by US Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey's office stated: "Central to the development of Mexico’s counterdrug capability is the training of GAFE [Special Airborne Forces Group] . . . elite Mexican Army units that have received Special Forces and air assault training for use in counterdrug interdiction operations." 26

However, the January 1996 issue of Special Warfare, the base magazine at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, boasting that GAFE represents an advance in the development of Mexican special forces, made no mention of counterdrug training. It stated: "particularly heavy emphasis is being placed on those forces that will be located in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero, where 'special airborne forces' will be set up."27

Fort Bragg is the home of the Seventh Special Forces group-veterans of the Panama invasion, the Nicaraguan contra insurgency, counterdrug missions in Bolivia and counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia and Peru. According to their Web site: “Today we are continuously engaged in Foreign Internal Defense throughout Central and South America wherever SocSouth [Special Operations Command South] and SouthCom [Southern Command] may direct."28

Secretary of State Madeline Albright told Congress in response to criticisms: "We are not involved in any counterinsurgency training and the Mexican government has not requested said training." 29

In addition to the Fort Bragg program, Mexican officers are trained in counterintelligence at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington DC; in helicopter maneuvers at Fort Rucker, Alabama; helicopter maintenance at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and in general comrnando operations at the notorious School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.30

The torture of abducted drug suspects by GAFF troops in Jalisco was revealed after the force was sent to "restore order" in Chiapas following the massacre of 45 unarmed Tzotzil Maya peasants by a pro-government paramilitary group at the hamlet of Acteal on December 22, 1997. The Pentagon and McCaffrey were embarrassed once again in August 1998 when twenty GAFF troops (including majors and captains) were arrested on drug trafficking charges at the Mexico City airport.31

The CIA has also established close links to the Mexican military in recent years. SEDENA's CIA-trained Counter-Narcotics Intelligence Center is overseen by Col. Augusto Moises Garcia Ochoa, a 1997 School of the Americas graduate in Jungle Operations.32

Realities of CIA complicity in the 1980s Central America atrocities were documented in the 1990s. CIA "interrogation" training manuals used in Latin America were released to the Baltimore Sun in 1997. The paper, pursuing a Freedom of Information Act request in an investigation of the Battalion 316 death squad in Honduras (which had targeted indigenous campesinos pressing for land rights, among others), threatened to sue the Agency. The 1963 "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual included suggestions on "medical, chemical or electrical methods." Tip for torturers: "If a new safe house is to be used, the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed."33

The Great Fear

The US federal elite has been preparing for the social explosion in Mexico since the emergence of the revolutionary contagion in Central America in the 1980s. In 1984, CIA Director William Casey argued that if the US failed to prevent "another Cuba in Central America, Mexico will have a big problem, and we're going to have a massive wave of migration."34

In 1983, former CIA Director William Colby termed Mexico's population explosion "the most obvious threat" to US national security. Predicting up to 20 million migrants by the year 2000, Colby warned that the Border Patrol "will not have enough bullets to stop them."35

The statement produced by a Latin American Strategy Development Workshop at the Pentagon in September 1990 found the US military's "extraordinarily positive" relations with Mexico faced a potential near-term danger: "a 'democracy opening' in Mexico could test the special relationship by bringing into office a government more interested in challenging the US on economic and nationalistic grounds."36

In his 1996 book The Next War , Reagan-era Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger portrays a scenario in which border militarization to turn back the long-feared "flood of refugees" escalates into a US military invasion of its southern neighbor.

The book is a series of showdowns with Russia, China, Japan and Iran-Cold War and World War II scenarios updated for the new millennium, nuclear weapons going off like fireworks. The Mexico chapter begins with the US Army overwhelmed by the swarthy hordes at the Rio Grande.

The crisis is sparked when Mexico's "American-educated economist" president, "hailed as a symbol of political maturity," is assassinated. A "National Salvation Front" -- sharing the EZLN's colors of red and black and led by a "radical populist" intellectual who smacks of PRD leader Cuauhtemoc Cardenas -- takes power. The “forcible redistribution of farmland" triggers an economic crisis, unleashing the refugee hordes. Drug cartel wars lead to acts of terrorism in San Diego, and US intelligence links the National Salvation Front's populist strongman to the kingpins. In 2003, the White House authorizes an invasion.37

This time the US forces land at Tampico rather than at Veracruz as in 1847 and 1914. Air strikes take out the Federal District military bases, while PSYOP broadcasts effect the capitulation of the Mexican army. Weinberger shows a familiarity with Mexican military doctrine, even if he badly garbles the word "campesino." The National Salvation Front leadership takes to the Sierra Madre with a force of loyal officers and launches a guerilla resistance against the gringo occupation. A counterinsurgency war ensues.38

Ironically, it is the imperatives of the Free Trade economy itself which pushes indigenous Mexicans from their lands, fueling both immigration and social unrest. An OECD report by UC Davis economist Phillip Martin predicted that six million rural Mexicans will flee the land for the cities and US as a result of NAFTA -- unless they make a transition from maize to export crops like broccoli.39 Estimates of the number of campesinos to be displaced from their lands by NAFTA run as high as fifteen million.40 The visceral refusal of these land-rooted people to be moved may provide the North American Free Trade Agreement's most serious challenge.


1 Propuesta: Tesis Para el Cam bio (Nuestras Ptanteamientos Basicos), ERPIdocument, April 1999
2 AP, April 1, 1999; author's interviews with Chilpancingo protestors, April 1999
3 La Jornada del Sur, May 10,1999; La Jornada, May 11, 1999
4 La Jornada del Sur, May 9, 1999
5 Eaton, Tracy, Dallas Morning News , Aug.27, 1999
6 Novedades, May 11, 1999
7 Manifiesto de la Triple Alianza Guerrillera Indigena Nacional, April 1999
8 La Jornada, August 9,1996
9 Proceso, August 11, 1996
10 La Jornada, Sept. 3, 1996
11 ibid.
12 ibid., Oct. 25,1999
13 Proceso, Oct. 31, 1999
14 El Universal, Oct. 28,1999
15 ibid., Oct. 27, 1999
16 ibid., Oct. 28, 1999
17 La Jornada, Oct. 25, 1999
18 Patterns in Global Terrorism , US State Department, 1996
19 First Declaration of Lacandon Selva, January 1994
20 Deutch, John, "Think Again: Terrorism," Foreign Policy, Fall 1997
21 Turbiville, Graham H. Jr., Law Enforcement and the Mexican Armed Forces: The Military Undertakes New Internal Security Missions, Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS. April 1997
22 Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, Ni Paz Ni Justicia, 1997, p. 156-7
23 Gray, Chris Hables, Postmodern War, Guilford Press, 1997, New York, p. 178
24 ibid., p. 180
25 ibid., p. 182
26 Office of National Drug Control Policy, report to Congress, September 1997
27 Special Warfare, Fort Bragg, NC, January 1996
28 Steinberg, Michael, "Massacre in Mexico: The North Carolina Connection," The Prism, Chapel Hill, NC, March 1998
29 Beltran del Rio, Pascal, Proceso , May 3, 1998
30 Trinfo, Flizalde, La Jornada , August 15,1998
31 El Universal, Aug. 12, 1998; Washington Post, Aug. 15, 1998
32 Beltran del Rio, Pascal, Proceso , May 3, 1998
33 Baltimore Sun, Jan. 27, 1997
34 New York Times, April 16, 1984
35 Rico, Carlos in Vasquez, Carlos and Manuel Garcia y Griego, eds., Mexican-US Relations: Conflict and Convergence , UCIA 1983, p.150
36 Chomsky, Noam, "Notes on NAFTA," The Nation, March 29, 1993
37 Weinberger, Caspar, The Next War ; Regnery, Washington DC, 1996, p 163-213
38 ibid.
39 LaFranchi, Howard, "How Broccoli Might Stem Mexican Migration,"
Christian Science Monitor; Jan. 21, 1997
40 Barry, Tom, Zapata's Revenge: Free Trade & the Farm Crisis in Mexico, South End Press, Boston, 1995, p.194





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