Interrogating Gulf Cartel Weaklings (“Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo”)

Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo

Video File Titles:

Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo Parte 1;

Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo Parte 2

Accessed September 8, 2010:

Ostensibly Produced by: Los Zetas

Targeted Organization: Gulf Cartel

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Warning: contains images of extreme violence. Viewer discretion is recommended.
(click links below to view videos)
Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo Parte 1
Interrogando A Panochones Del Golfo Parte 2
Video en donde Los Zetas Ejecutan a 4 Sicarios del Cartel del Golfo (CDG)

These two video segments portray an interrogation of four alleged Gulf operatives. The first video covered the first two interviews, and the second covered the remaining two interviews and the execution of all four by gunfire. The interrogator’s voice has been edited out of the audio and replaced with text on the screen, demonstrating conscientiousness in identity concealment. The prisoners’ responses remain audible. A Zeta captor who is not visible held an axe that occasionally came on-screen, and thumped it onto the ground during the interrogation.

The interrogation exhibited examples of six propaganda techniques. Name Calling appeared in several contexts. First, insults were aimed at the Gulf Cartel collectively (referred to as bitches, cowards, embarrassed by defeat, and relying upon foreigners). Secondly, specific colleagues were designated as cowards, including Gulf leaders R-1 and R-2, and another individual who allegedly committed suicide to avoid decapitation by Zetas. Third, allegedly “foreign” ethnic operatives (Michoacanos, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans) were referred to as “not badasses,” stupid, subservient, and as being duped into death in the service for the Gulf Cartel. Fourth, insults were directed at the captives (e.g., “asshole”), who responded by addressing the interrogator as “sir.” Finally, the captives acknowledged themselves stupid for getting caught and being played for fools by superiors like R-1. Glittering Generalities included references to military experience (one stated he was a Marine for eight years before recruited as a Gulf enforcer), references to comradeship (e.g., the Gulf’s abandonment of those prisoners), reference to family as an implicit appeal for mercy, and reference to the hideout of R-2, an allegedly cowardly Gulf leader, as “the Eagle’s Nest.” The Testimony technique was used prominently, whereby the captives function as informants to the poverty of quality in leadership, and reliance upon “foreigners”[1] who are being duped into suicide work because of base financial motivations, stupidity, and racial differences. The captives also testify on issues of operational significance, inter-group relations between the Gulf Cartel and other TCOs, details of Gulf Cartel authority structure, zones of responsibility belonging to specific Gulf leaders, details of the mission during which they were captured, and information on Gulf intentions in the area. Being abandoned, the captives are presented as credible witnesses to the collective cowardice and lack of comradeship within the Gulf Cartel. The Plain Folks technique is evidenced by a more extensive interrogation of each individual’s arrival story. These interviews frame migrants promised employment only to be exploited, a compelling theme even to Mexicans who resent the TCOs. This effect may have been augmented by the decision to elicit the name of each captive. The Band Wagon technique can be seen with references to specific cultural groups within an alleged conspiracy of exploitation by the Gulf Cartel.

Given a succession of Gulf Cartel interrogation videos featuring Zeta prisoners, this video represents a Zeta response in what will become one of the most interesting and elaborate propaganda exchanges in Mexico’s drug war. Compared with the Gulf Cartel-produced videos analyzed previously, this Zeta-produced video reflects a higher degree of professionalism for several reasons. First, the quality of the video and audio is higher than some of the others. Secondly, as discussed above, the interrogation is multi-faceted in terms of the propaganda techniques employed. The questioning is pointed toward certain pre-determined purposes in addition to terror, (as previously discussed, including Gulf Cartel morale, internal perceptions of its own leadership, and its ability to attract foreign recruits) without degenerating into a tedious, coached recitation of facts and names. One consequent is that this video comes across as more emotionally compelling beyond mere terror, i.e., that the audience is led to identify (if not sympathize) with the prisoners, at least to a limited degree (as Gulf Cartel operatives, or as “foreigners”). The decision to edit out the interrogator’s voices reflects insight about the ability to use such data to determine one’s identity or location via intercepted cell phone communications. The inclusion of the prisoners’ executions also represents a one-upmanship in the narco-video volley against the Gulf Cartel. Clearly, this response was concocted with previous Gulf Cartel videos fresh in the minds of its Zeta producers. Both organizations appear to believe their enemies, their own operatives, and the public will watch their videos. At the very least, the consummation of a Gulf-Cartel-Zetas video volley suggests that both leadership echelons take the potential psyop value of such propaganda quite seriously.

[1] The term “foreigner” may be less insulting – though no less alienating – to Michoacanos if it is interpreted as a general reference to outsiders, i.e., those whose origins are not from or near Tamaulipas.

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