On September 21, 2015, I shared with you an issue involving the city’s fiber optic cable and the arrest of recent UMC board appointee, Miguel Fernandez for DWI. (link) In that article I showed you that although El Paso is often thought of as a small town looking to be a large city, there are numerous events going on in the background that have global implications. The El Paso federal courts routinely handle matters that involve high-level officials and political intrigue in various countries, especially in Mexico. Because of the lackluster news media coverage, most residents of El Paso are unaware of the international intrigue being played out in El Paso and the various international connections some El Pasoans have on the international scene.
Those that are frequent readers of my blog are aware of the nexus I have been building in regards to drug trafficking and corruption. I have gone as far as calling it a culture of corruption that runs deep in the veins of the city. Some of the concepts are complex in nature and others require an in depth explanation in order to understand the implications.
In my continued attempt to further develop my thesis of the endemic corruption within El Paso, today I am going to layout the importance of El Paso in the Internet. Tomorrow I will follow up with a look into the foreign corrupt practices laws. Although boring for most of you, these two topics are important to understand in order for you to see why certain connections that I will be sharing with you in upcoming issues about PAN politics and some of the movers and shakers in El Paso are the basis for the intrigue.
I have written extensively for many years about how El Paso could use the Internet as a cornerstone for economic development. Do not worry, I am not going to bore you with those details again, but keep it in mind as you read further. As you likely know, the Internet is basis of the global economy.
Most of you already realize that the Internet is delivered across the world through cable, fiber optic cable. Countries are connected to the Internet through a global network of cables deployed by various global companies. The more connections to networks a country has the more reliable and faster the Internet is.
Let me digress for a moment and point out that satellites are also used for Internet connectivity, however their unreliability because of various factors, not to mention the expense of operating them, makes them a secondary option. The other thing I should point out is that today’s Internet is not just the surfing you do on your computer or tablet but also the telephone calls you make and the television you watch. Although I refer to them as Internet connections, they are, in fact, television and telephone connections as well.
As you can see from the map above, the United States is well served by the numerous Internet connections it has to the rest of the world.
Mexico, on the other hand has limited Internet connections and all of them are through the United States.
The red line is the Submarine cable, the underwater cable that connects most of the world. The global map at the top shows you the underwater connections to the United States. This is how the United States connects to the rest of the world.
Because Mexico has a border with the United States, global communications companies have laid fiber optic cables and entered Mexico through the US-Mexico border. However, as you can see, the major connections connect directly to Mexico City and from there the Internet is distributed throughout the country.
There is, however, one company based in El Paso that has added additional capacity to Mexico through El Paso, Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville. In the map below, I superimposed their network in black hashed lines over the network of the global providers. I believe that you can clearly see how their coverage is larger than the established global telecom providers. They also provide service to a large portion of the under-served parts of Mexico.
As you might remember in my pervious article about Miguel Fernandez’ arrest, there are questions concerning how it is that Transtelco acquired the city’s rights to connect its fiber optic cable into Cd. Juárez and on to Chihuahua City. You might also remember that the headquarters for the company houses the local newspaper and city IT offices. Fernandez was also appointed to the UMC board by Vince Perez earlier this year.
In my article about Fernandez I also connected some dots for you with PAN politics. Many of the PAN operatives are well known in El Paso, however, in their other capacities, most may not notice the connections to Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon’s party and the nexus between the rise of the PAN Party in Mexico, the drug wars in Juárez/Mexico and corruption on the border. Now tie all of that in with the privatization of the telecom industry in Mexico under the PAN Party and I believe you start to get a grasp of what is going on within El Paso’s elite and the power and land grabs that have been escalating since 2000.
Remember, in today’s article I’m only delving into the Internet. The global economy also requires the maquila industry. I’ll be getting into that in the future. For now, know that land grabs on both sides of the border and the politics of the city are all related to issues beyond the borders of the community.
He who controls the means of communications, i.e. the Internet has control over the dissemination of information. More importantly, if you control the network that connects a large population to the Internet, television and telecommunications then the money just flows into the provider. There are only so many concessions that governments are willing to make, like utility monopolies that are allowed by the municipalities.
In order to position yourself in line to receive the concessions or for government officials to look the other way when certain things are accomplished by bypassing the normal rules, the players must invest in the politicians. It also helps to have a newspaper dependent on you for its office space. Obviously, having access to the network that connects city services is an obvious benefit.
Transtelco has access to all of that and has positioned itself as a premiere Internet provider for Mexico.
Tomorrow, I’m going to delve into another cross-border issue that most are unaware of. Those that have read about foreign corrupt practices laws usually tie it in with the huge conglomerates, like oil companies, that have been exposed for bribing officials for access to oil in other countries. El Paso sits on the US-Mexico border. A lot of trade happens between both countries. Everyone agrees that many processes in Mexico require bribes.
In tomorrow’s edition I’ll explain why this is a problem for some El Paso companies that most are unaware about.