Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Clinton Leads Delegation to Mexico to Discuss Drug Violence

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton led a high-level U.S. delegation to Mexico on Tuesday to discuss the growing drug violence.  She was joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair,  and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.  The visit included a private meeting with President Felipe Calderón.

In a press conference with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, Clinton said, “We are working in our two governments together to solve the problem posed by the criminal cartels that stalk the streets of your cities and ours, that kill and injure innocent people, and spread a reign of terror and intimidation.”

Clinton affirmed that the United Sates will not waiver in supporting its neighbor’s struggle against drug cartels. Clinton added that the U.S.-Mexico response will not be limited by “borders or bureaucratic divisions.”

During a day of meetings, the U.S. and Mexican leaders reviewed ways to expand the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative, a program developed during the Bush administration that provides Mexico with assistance to help combat trafficking. The administration’s 2011 budget request allots $330 million for the initiative.

Among the tactics to combat the violence that were discussed were ways   to disrupt the cartels, strengthening Mexican judicial institutions, building a “21st century border” based on security without disrupting the movement of trade and people, and building “resilient communities.” This is a model to create opportunities, especially for Mexicans teens, who are all too often tempted to join cartels for money.  Most of the 18,000 people killed since Calderón declared war on the cartels were under the age of 30.

In a statement released following the meetings, President Calderón said, “The magnitude of the challenge underlined the urgent need for both countries to redouble their efforts to combat transnational organized crime.”

The U.S. delegation’s visit occurred just 10 days after three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez  were murdered. The killings led to the detention of hundreds of gang members in El Paso, Texas. Mexican drug traffickers often rely on U.S. gangs which work to satisfy the American consumer demand for illegal drugs.

“Yes, we accept our share of the responsibility,” Clinton said. “We know that the demand for drugs drives much of this illicit trade, and that gun purchases in the U.S. are used to facilitate violence here in Mexico. The United States must and is doing its part.”

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