Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blurred Borders in the “War on Drugs”

Earlier in March, President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa met at the White House, where they discussed an array of issues ranging from immigration to Mexico’s leadership at the U.N. Cancun Conference to the turmoil in Libya. In addition, President Obama pledged to deepen U.S. cooperation in fighting the drug cartels “that threaten both our peoples,” and praised Mexicans’ “extraordinary courage in the fight for their country.” It’s a fight that has killed more than 30,000 Mexicans since 2006.

Obama framed the drug war as a shared burden, describing how U.S. authorities screen all southbound rail cargo in order to seize guns headed for Mexico. These efforts are part of the Merida Initiative, a 2008 security agreement between the United States, Mexico, and several countries of Central America to confront the threat of Mexican drug cartels. The multimillion dollar initiative addresses training, equipment, and intelligence improvement. But Obama also addressed the “demand side” of the problem, which stems primarily from the United States. “As part of our own drug control strategy,” he said, “we are focused on reducing the demand for drugs through education, prevention, and treatment.”

Even though Obama’s renewed commitment seemed to finally support Mexico’s war on drugs, there have been several obstacles along the way. Most recently, the U.S ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, resigned after cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that he questioned Mexico’s ability to combat drug gangs. And last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Mexico’s current predicament to that of Colombia, a country that long battled the Medellin and Cali cartels in the 1980s and early 1990s. The comparison offended President Calderon, who considered it inaccurate, particularly when Mexico’s murder rate is significantly lower than Colombia’s was in the 1980s. Although some Mexican cities, like Ciudad Victoria, have seen a surge in the use of bombs to threaten law enforcement officers, Mexico has not seen the widespread use of explosives, nor does it have an active guerrilla insurgency like Colombia.

For more information about this article, please click on the following link from the World Policy Institute:

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