Pascual’s Departure: Guns, Leaks, and…a Girlfriend?

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The theories about why Carlos Pascual abruptly resigned this weekend as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico ranged from reports about arms trafficking to unmanned drones, public insults and the political affiliation of Pascual’s new girlfriend.

The most oft-cited reason was Pascual’s written commentary in several 2010 diplomatic cables, leaked by the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, that Mexico’s government and security forces are plagued by inefficiencies, infighting, and even cowardice as they try to battle drug trafficking organizations.

One such cable, highlighted by InSight in December, said that the army’s refusal to move on U.S.-provided intelligence giving the whereabouts of Arturo Beltran Leyva, the head of the Beltran Levya Organization, “Reflected a risk aversion that cost the institution a major counternarcotics victory.”

The Marines did move, getting the victory by killing Beltran Leyva and four of his alleged associates.

This, and other cables, reportedly infuriated Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

“That man’s ignorance translates into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico and affects things and creates ill feeling within our own team,” the president told El Universal in an interview in February.

Things got worse over the last few weeks.

In the most self-serving of stories regarding Pascual’s resignation – but one that may hold some truth – CBS cited unnamed “sources close to diplomatic circles inside Mexico” saying the final straw was the revelation, assisted by CBS reporting, that U.S. agents had watched for months while hundreds of weapons were purchased from U.S. gun stores and smuggled across the border to criminal organizations.

The so-called Fast and Furious case resulted in arrests of “straw buyers” and middlemen, but not before they’d moved the weapons into the hands of criminals who’d taken the life of one U.S. agent in a shootout and countless Mexicans during what was the most violent year to date since Calderon launched his frontal assault on drug trafficking gangs in December 2006.

This news was followed by an AP report about U.S. drones operating in Mexican territory since 2009. While this was probably not news to Calderon, it hurt him and his party, the National Action Party (Partido de Accion Nacional – PAN), politically as they gear up for a presidential election next year.

Finally, the Guardian, among others, noted that Pascual is dating the daughter of Francisco Rojas, the head of congress and a top ranking member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Institutional Revolucionario – PRI).

Animal Politico, in its coverage, added that Pascual had said in some of the diplomatic cables that the PAN’s chances for electoral success in 2012 were dwindling.

Additional Coverage:
El Universal
USA Today
New York Times
Washington Post
Associated Press

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