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off the deep endbegan referring to sending his reporters out to poll the citizens to see if they favored the death penalty for the general. They did. The capital’s cartoonists outdid each other, pointing out that it’s getting mighty crowded in the high-security prison outside of Mexico City, which houses a number of famous inmates, including the General. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, someone had obviously committed one of those little lapses in judgment that sometimes occurreminiscent of the time that Citibank accepted millions of dollars from Raill Salinas, the currently imprisoned brother of the former president, no questions asked. Like all aspects of the thoroughly spinmanaged drug war, the timing and circumstances of Gutierrez’ s arrest had more than a few missing links, destined to be lost in the still evolving scandal. With few exceptions, the military is considered the last taboo among the Mexican media, although for anyone willing to look, there have been plenty of cracks in the image: the 1984 discovery of an enormous marijuana crop under protection of a cavalry unit; the sud-‘ den, unexplained 1990 departure of Salinas’ Secretary of the Navy; the 1991 shootout with federal judicial police agents who stumbled on a military operation protecting drug shipments at a remote airstrip in the state of Veracruz. But for the most part, even as Mexico has become increasingly militarized, the Army has managed to avoid media scrutiny. Long before last summer’s rebel attacks in Oaxaca, soldiers were commonplace in the Huatulco airport. Soldiers stationed at highway tollbooths throughout the country have become part of the landscape, like the flocks of armed guards who daily embark on armed security missions to protect the safes in several popular Mexico City restaurant chains. Mexico City has a military man in charge of its police; among General Gutierrez’ s acts during his brief tenure in the anti-drug program was the appointment of army officers to control the airports of Toluca and Cuernavaca. The entire federal police force in northern Baja California has been removed because of alleged corruption, and drug agents there were replaced by soldiers. A similar opera tion has just been ordered for Iztapalapa, a predominantly poor and working-class borough of Mexico City where crime has increased dramatically in recent years. As historian Lorenzo Meyer has described in his column in the newspaper Reforma, Mexico is in the midst of a war on fickers themselves, in which “half of Mexico is the battlefield.” Meyer might have added a fourth fronta psychological front, part of a series of crises spinning out of the violence of 1994, the subsequent and unresolved economic crisis, and lingering fears about what’s in store for both nations as once again, Mexico is boxed into a position in which, as Meyer put it, “its foreign policy consists of reacting to U.S. pressure.” As bad as it is in Mexico, Meyer and others are at least asking questions missing from the debate on the other side of the border. What is the role of the military? Just what kind of “war” are we fighting? A little periodicazo north of the Rio Grande might be a good ideaprecisely what the San Jose Mercury News and reporter Gary Webb attempted to do last summer, with Webb’s series of stories examining the murky connections between drug traffickers, the Contras, and the CIA. After shamelessly ignoring Webb’s reporting for weeks, the major dailies \(The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles launched simultaneous attackson Webb. In turn, Norman Solomon, of the press watchdog organization FAIR \(Fairan excellent critique on the mainstream media’s handling of the San Jose story \(“Snow Job: The Establishment’s Papers Do Damage Control for the CIA,” available on the Internet at notable degree, the establishment papers relied for their debunking of the Mercury News on the CIA’s own obligatory denials.” Among the sources quoted by the Los Angeles Times, for example, is a man described only as a “former CIA official” whom Solomon identifies as being in charge of the CIA’ s contra activities in the early ’80s before moving on to the National Security Council and supervising covert aid to Afghanistan’s mujahedeen guerrillas. Afghanistan, of course, is on the current list of countries de-certified by the U.S. State Department. In connection with its report, FAIR and number of community organizations attempted to raise public awareness by holding demonstrations at each of the three major newspapers. But timing is everything, and the demonstrations went unnoticed during the battle over Mexico’s certification. In the final episode of “Nada Personal,” Camila de los Reyes, whose character has undergone more changes than Den nis Rodman, flies to Chihuahua, where Luis Mario, her ex-lover, the half-brother son of the man who married her mother and murdered her father and sister, is trying to reconstruct his career as a television journalist and pursue that nefarious drug trafficker, “The Lord of the Skies.” Immersed in work, surrounded by dozens of Chihuahua newspapers with headlines about tive prosecutor Pablo Chapa Bezanilla, Luis Mario is surprised by Camila’s sudden reappearance, and by her emotional plea that ultimately there is far more to Mexico than drugs and corruption and infiltration and leaks and money laundering. There is, after all, the ordinary decency of ordinary people. There is, after all, the potential for love in the time of narcodemocracy, especially on a telenovela that concluded on February 14. All in all it was a decidedly happier ending than the real-life telenovela, in which at the last minute a refugee trafficker from the long lost Gulf Cartel is captured \(while the brother of imprisoned Gulf Cartel impresario Juan Garcia Abrego mysteriously U.S. president decides to “certify” Mexico and, in the carefully measured language of the Associated Press, “Aides said the Mexican approval came with a string attached: the administration will work quietly with the Zedillo government to establish criteria under which the U.S. can measure progress in its drug fighting.” The show, as they say, must go on. Barbara Belejack is a reporter based in Mexico, where she does not really spend all day watching the telenovelas. MARCH 14, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19