The Three Amigos met in Ottawa Wednesday, and no one knows why.
President Barack Obama and his counterparts Justin Trudeau from Canada and Enrique Pena Nieto from Mexico were at the North American Summit, reports stated, as if that explained it, known as NAS, apparently because anything big and important deserves its own acronym. The Three Amigo’s were there, presumably, to discuss Big Things.
But they all looked a little awkward and lost, as if they were the last of a dying breed, and knew it. They even fumbled their special Three Amigos handshake, their signature move.
Still, that wasn’t half as bad as when they opened their mouths. All that rolled out was platitudes. It was embarrassing.
“We talked about the need to ensure a clean and prosperous future for all of our people and for all people in the world,” said one of The Three Amigos—which one could not have mattered less—while the other two nodded. “We are unanimous in our belief that on this issue North America can and indeed must lead the way.”
Mum’s the word on what we’re really trading
The Three Amigo’s also discussed anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S., and agreed to deplore it. And while the Amigos avoided mentioning Great Britain’s BREXIT vote—because, hey, enough said about that.
Still, they managed to warn each other—and the world!—against protectionist and isolationist sentiments.
All three men ignored the elephant in the room, which could have been, but wasn’t, current headlines from a damning report just released by Amnesty International, which said Mexico’s police and armed forces routinely torture and mistreat women, and use sexual violence during arrest and interrogation.
The elephant is the money.
In a summit promoting free trade, neither Obama not Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto felt the need to mention that the item being freely traded between the U.S. and Mexico— accounting for by far the biggest chunk of their business together—is drugs.
And for the American banks which launder the drug money, it’s a cash flow they need to survive.
One total dreamboat , two total dreamboats, three…
Pena Nieto owes his elevation to the Mexican Presidency to his powerful sponsors, with an assist from sympathetic U.S. officials, like former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Even as this surreal “funny handshake” business was playing out, a progressive female columnist at SLATE was describing Pena in print as “Mexican president/total dreamboat Enrique Peña Nieto.”
One scandal, discovered by Mexico City newspapers, showed pictures of the man soon to be Mexico’s President getting chummy with a PRI Party functionary.
The modern age is upon us
When he wasn’t campaigning with candidate Pena Nieto in Mexico City and Sonora, or traveling with him on his plane, Rafael Celaya’s real job was as a mid-level lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel.
“Rafa,”as he is known to his friends in the PRI, got busted in the Spanish port of Algeciras for drug trafficking, after being caught with 337 kilos of cocaine, a not-insignificant amount that he might have had difficulty claiming was for “personal use.”
That’s when reporters discovered his Facebook account.
Incredibly, Rafa wasn’t trying to hide his association with Pena; on the contrary, he’d posted pictures to his Facebook page, showing him with the Mexican President.
The “narco-junior,” has better connections than brains: he was busted in Spain with a cousin of El Chapo Guzman. The men were there, said police, establishing a beachhead for the Sinaloa Cartel.
And while he waited for the load to arrive, Rafa had time for sightseeing.
His arrest marks the first time anyone in a Mexican drug cartel was caught after posting pictures on Facebook of his drug cartel “move” in progress.
The North American Summit is NAS!
Back at NAS (look it up) in Ottawa, Obama responded to the world-wide pent-up populist anger directed at, among other things, a President whose choice for Attorney General couldn’t find a single banker to hold responsible for the $3 trillion looting of the American economy. Not one.
A grudging President Barack Obama allowed that, “Ordinary people who are concerned about trade have a legitimate gripe about globalization.”
A legitimate “gripe.’ Take-away message: Real Americans don’t “gripe.”
If IT workers at Disney in Orlando forced to train workers from an outsourcing firm in India to replace them in their own jobs feel they have a “gripe,” one thing they can do for themselves is improve their damn attitude.
The State and the Cartel are One
Drug traffickers and the Mexican State are indistinguishable. Both belong to what Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi calls the “parasitic elite.”
You may recognize the type. They are not usually cowboys from Sinaloa, or psychopathic killers from Los Zetas, who were originally trained to be Mexico’s elite anti-drug Special Forces.
They don’t spend all their time holed up in the mountains, either,strapping bandoliers of ammunition across their bare chests, or peering out from caves.
According to a high-level attorney for the Beltran Leyva faction of the Sinaloa Cartel who turned himself in, Mexican drug traffickers can very often be found at elegant restaurant like El Lago, overlooking a picturesque lake in Chapultepec Park, where the informant wined and dined Mexican General Roberto Dawe.
The General ordered the beef tenderloin with foie gras and wild mushrooms, the informant testified. He said he went with the lobster tacos with molcajete sauce.
Roberto Lopez Najera (called “The Nineteen” because he’s missing a finger) was a lawyer working for a Texas-born cartel enforcer known as “La Barbie” for his blond hair and blue eyes.
He turned himself in for revenge. His boss in the cartel, in an ill-advised move, had had Lopez Najera’s own brother murdered.
Later, when leaders of the Beltran Leyva Cartel had a “sit-down” with top honchos from Los Zetas, Lopez told investigators that it wasn’t in the basement of a safe house in a dusty Mexican border town.
They sat down at the Hotel Monte Taxco, overlooking a golf course, in Mexico’s picturesque Silver City of Taxco.
Get your own international terminal
Lopez Najera told the Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) that two of Mexico’s busiest international airports, the Cancun and Toluca International Airports, are controlled by the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, who used them between 2006 and 2009 to smuggle at least 50 tons of cocaine into Mexico from Colombia and Venezuela.
The Toluca Airport is in the State of Mexico, where, during that time frame one of The Three Amigos, Enrique Pena Nieto, was the state’s Governor. He brought in a Spanish company, OHL, to manage the Airport.
“If you just land in Cancun to refuel, and get off the plane to do the paperwork required for an international flight,”the lawyer-turned-whistle-blower told Mexican authorities, “you paid only $400,000 to the Federal Police, who controlled the network of corruption.”
By contrast, officials at the Toluca Airport were pulling down a cool million dollars per flight… just to look the other way. The drugs were off-loaded in hangers belonging to the Mexican government’s Ministry of Public Security (SSP).
A cartel exec with an Instagram account
After pictures of him hanging out with the Mexican president showed up on his Facebook account, Rafa Celaya became an instant celebrity. A reporter from Mexico City’s Zeta magazine showed up to interview him while he was holed up in the desert near the American border, waiting for the brouhaha to die down.
“From the time he first appeared at a press conference, until the end of the campaign, he wore the official team shirt of Peña Nieto, white with long sleeves, despite the heat, with the candidate’s name embroidered on it,” reported Z magazine. “Rafael Celaya did not conceal, and even boasted, about his relationship with national political figures. The last time this reporter spoke with Rafael Celaya, at a Chinese restaurant, he was still wearing that white shirt with the PRI candidate’s name.”
Sitting at a nearby table, the reporter related, was a lady visiting Mexico from Yuma, Arizona, who said she was a fan of Peña Nieto and pleaded with Rafa to get her a souvenir.
“Celaya got one for her.”
“As a continent, we…”
“This is a moment for North America to say we stand united, we stand together,” Chrystia Freeland, Trudeau’s trade minister, told Bloomberg TV Canada.
“As a continent, we have a partnership that believes in the importance of building bridges rather than building walls.”
Anyone starting a sentence, “As a continent, we…” is probably feeling expansive. As well they might.