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Wikileaks releases full Jalisco archive

September 28, 2011

A little summary I did a few weeks back on Wikileaks files relating to Guadalajara and Jalisco, which for whatever reason never ended up making the paper:

Ever wondered what the U.S. government thinks of Guadalajara? Well now you can find out for yourself.

The remaining 32 diplomatic cables pertaining to the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara were released last month by whistle-blowing organization Wikileaks. The content of the leaked cables, which date from 2007 to 2009, is freely available online and was first published locally by Mural newspaper.

While no major revelations were uncovered, the U.S. perspective on local affairs reveals some intriguing insights, such as the fact that the Universidad de Guadalajara was long considered “leftist and often publicly anti-U.S.” by the consulate staff.

Relations with the public university had improved to some extent by the time the cable was sent in 2007: “Slowly but surely the left-leaning and often anti-U.S. University of Guadalajara is adopting a more practical relationship with the Consulate and USG (United States government).”

The consulate also kept a close eye on Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez Marquez, who was initially described in glowing terms.

“The Consulate has an excellent working relationship with Emilio and members of his cabinet,” who are “favorably disposed toward the United States,” read one cable, shortly after Gonzalez took charge in March 2007.

Yet two years later the governor’s many high-profile gaffes were summarized in another comunique entitled “Go blank your mothers! – A governor’s fall from grace.”

The cable detailed how Gonzalez’s controversial close links to the Catholic Church and “a series of self-inflicted verbal wounds, culminating in a tequila-influenced, obscenity-laden public diatribe against his political enemies have seriously damaged his reputation.”

The consulate staff appeared to write off his chances in the 2012 presidential election, noting that “a recovery from this political tailspin will be very difficult.”

Yet despite acknowledging a comeback was unlikely according to “conventional wisdom,” the cable noted that “with four years to go in his term and several high profile events such as Guadalajara’s hosting of the 2011 Pan-American Games available to showcase a reformed image, some form of political rehabilitation might be possible.”

Several of the leaked cables made reference to Jalisco’s problems with drug trafficking. A document from 2008 went so far as to describe Guadalajara as a “chemical city” due to the amount of crystal meth produced here.

“Jalisco is a major hub of methamphetamine production in Mexico” and “production is especially high in and around the city of Guadalajara due to the confluence of geography, availability of materials, adequate infrastructure, and scientific expertise,” read the cable. “Ending Guadalajara’s status as Mexico’s drug chemical capital will require a sustained long-term effort.”

Another cable, entitled “Beauty and the Beasts,” discussed an incident in which the Miss Sinaloa 2008 beauty queen was detained along with a gang of narcos and supplies of guns, ammunition and cash in a raid in Zapopan.

One of the morst recent cables from June 2009 discussed how “Cerveceria Minerva, a microbrewery in Guadalajara, used a notorious narco-saint as a successful marketing tool, garnering some high profile press.”

The “Malverde” brand was named “after a legendary Sinaloan ‘Robin Hood’ figure, Jesus Malverde, who is commonly known as the patron saint of narcos. The objective was to ironically employ narco-culture to reach a specific audience.”

“The fact that it appears to have succeeded demonstrates the pervasive presence of narco culture in many aspects of Mexican society,” read the cable, which also noted that Minerva faced strong competition from the dominant Grupo Modelo brewery, part of a duopoloy – along with the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery – that maintains a tight stranglehold over the Mexican beer market.

The U.S. consulate took a critical line over Jalisco’s environmental policy following the death of a young boy who fell into “the severely polluted Santiago River in the Guadalajara suburb of El Salto” in February 2008.

The incident “finally attracted official and popular attention to a long-standing ecological nightmare.  But after years of official neglect and indifference, the authorities are seeking a quick fix by covering up the problem, rather than addressing its fundamental causes – an all-too-familiar reaction to environmental crises in western Mexico,” said the report.

Eight-year-old Miguel Angel Lopez died less than two weeks after falling into the river, “with tests at the local hospital showing a high concentration of arsenic and heavy metals in his body.”

The consulate criticized the local authorities’ “tepid” reaction, noting that “the environment has never been a priority for Jalisco’s governments, and the state’s Environment Secretariat continues to receive a miniscule slice of the official budget.”

The release of these documents came as Wikileaks was forced to publish its entire collection of U.S. diplomatic cables after the password to the encrypted archives leaked online last month.

You can read the original cables here.

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