Sunday, 27 February 2011

Calderon Volleys Criticism at U.S.

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Felipe CalderonCNSNews.com reported on February 25 that Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, in an exclusive interview February 22 with the Mexican newspaper El Universal, criticized U.S. cooperation in his war on the drug cartels. According to Calderón, "I found cooperation in this [counter-narcotics] matter with both President Bush and President Obama, but obviously the cooperation ends up being notoriously insufficient."

"What should Americans cooperate in?" Calderón asked rhetorically, and then supplied his own answer by lamenting: "In reducing the consumption of drugs — they haven’t reduced that; and two, in stopping the flow of weapons, and they haven’t reduced that — instead they’ve increased it." He also complained: "We see that the DEA, CIA and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] always have a policy of their own. The truth is, they’re not coordinated and they rival one another." The Mexican President also called on the United States to reinstate its assault weapons ban.

In the interview, Calderón didn’t elaborate on why he believes it’s the responsibility of the United States to end Mexico’s drug problems, and he also failed to mention that Mexican emigration is exacerbating and fueling the drug war. But his statements were the very same as those he issued at a joint session of Congress last May. At the invitation of President Obama, Calderón addressed U.S. lawmakers, taking the opportunity to reprimand America for everything that’s wrong at the border. According to Joe Wolverton of The New American, the Mexican President, in the spirit of a true politician, ”passed the buck.”

Since Calderón took office in Dec. 2006, there have been 34,612 violent murders in Mexico which the government presumes to be drug- or organized crime- related, according to Alejandro Poiré, Mexico’s National Security Secretary. Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, is one of the deadliest cities in the world, and recent violence in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and San Luis Potosí has shocked both nations. Most recently an American missionary and a U.S. ICE agent were murdered in separate incidents near the Texas border.

In 2007 the U.S. initiated the failed Mérida Initiative in an effort to combat drug-related crime in Mexico and Central America. The program marked $1.6 billion (80 percent to go to Mexico) over several years to provide training and equipment. And Mérida is only one U.S. program supporting law enforcement efforts in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Defense also provides counter-narcotics support.

CNSNews continued,

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According to a July 2010 report by the [U.S.] Government Accountability Office (GAO), “DOD counter-narcotics funding to Mexico totaled an estimated $12.2 million in fiscal year 2008, $34.2 million in fiscal year 2009, and $34.5 million in fiscal year 2010.

But a report from the Congressional Research Service disclosed that with fiscal year 2010 supplemental appropriations, “total U.S. assistance to Mexico under Mérida reached roughly $1.5 billion.” That sum almost equals the total promised to Mexico under the entire Mérida Initiative.

But Calderón didn’t stop there. He complained that recent disclosures by WikiLeaks of American diplomats’ emails have harmed his relationship with Washington. He referred specifically to a leaked cable from diplomats who spoke of the lack of coordination between different Mexican agencies (“They always want to raise their own agendas before their bosses and they have done much damage with the stories they tell by distorting the truth”) but didn’t explain how that disclosure harmed efforts to combat the narcotics trade.

Despite his criticism about U.S. insufficiencies, Calderón was unwilling to coordinate with the U.S. ambassador concerning his meetings with his security cabinet, declaring,

I do not accept nor tolerate any kind of intervention, but the ignorance of the U.S. ambassador results in a distortion of what happens in Mexico, which ends up being a “nuisance” to his team.

As reported in The New American on August 20 of last year, the level of corruption in Mexico is staggering. Drug crime and cartel violence are officially out of control, with the cartel lords running the show at the border. Calderón’s exasperation with the U.S. government could fall on deaf ears, as he has been unable to control these crimes, and has shown no success in stemming the flow of dangerous elements into the border region.

Americans, especially border residents, continue to press for real border security. As Mexico’s problems escalate, and Americans continue to die in the violence, demands are likely to increase for Calderón to solve his own problems, and for the U.S. to stop funneling money into Mexico and begin taking care of its own.

Calderón’s broadside came just days after President Obama thanked him for his efforts to bring to justice the killers of U.S. ICE agent Jaime Zapata.

Photo: Felipe Calderón