Media Awareness Project



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #352 - Thursday, 16 August 2007

On Tuesday, Aug 14th, The New York Times featured an updated summary of ongoing discussions between the federal government of Mexico and the United States government. On the agenda are intensive talks to develop a plan for the United States to provide billions of dollars to Mexico to support its fight against drug cartels.

Since 1970 the U.S. has spent over a trillion dollars in the war on drugs. Now they are negotiating to spend another $1.2 billion over the next 3 years to fight the "Nuevo Laredo-style" violence in Mexico.

Dubbed "Plan Mexico", this further escalation of the North American War on Drugs seems rather unlikely to be any more successful than the counterproductive Plan Colombia which the U.S. has funded with tens of billions of dollars over the past decade.

According to the U.N. "with 2 to 3 million displaced persons, Colombia presents the highest number of internally displaced people in the Western Hemisphere, and the second largest displaced population in the world after Sudan." If the success of Plan Mexico relies on the U.S. continuing more failed Prohibition style policies, no wall or fence will be able to stem the tide of Mexicans seeking entry into the U.S.

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Pubdate: Tue, 14 Aug 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: James C. McKinley Jr.


MEXICO CITY -- Mexico and the United States are holding intensive talks to develop a plan for the United States to provide billions of dollars to Mexico to support its fight against drug cartels, but the negotiations are not likely to produce an agreement before next week's trilateral meeting with Canada, officials from both countries said.

Both sides are trying to keep the details of the talks secret, but officials with knowledge of the issue said the aid would include money and training for the Mexican police, as well as advanced eavesdropping, surveillance and other spying technology.

Mexican officials insisted that any agreement would not involve operations by the United States military or drug enforcement agents on Mexican soil, as has happened in Colombia and Peru.

"The bottom line is precisely some help with equipment so we can do our job from a more solid perspective," said Eduardo Medina Mora, the Mexican attorney general, in an interview with Radio Formula last week. "What are the concrete components? That is obviously on the table, but always obviously with the principle of respect for our sovereignty."

Mexican officials said the negotiations began in March, around the time that President Bush met for talks with President Felipe Calderon in Merida, Mexico. The new discussions come as Mr. Calderon has started using federal troops in a major offensive against drug cartels and has begun extraditing top drug traffickers to the United States, a break with past practice.

In general, Mexico is seeking money, training and advanced technology for its state and federal police forces. One problem for Mexican antidrug officials has been the rampant corruption in municipal police departments.

Recently released tapes of police radio conversations in Tijuana, for instance, suggested that officers had been working hand in hand with gunmen for the Arellano Felix drug cartel to allow them to slip away from federal agents.

But Mexican officials also want the United States to do more to reduce the consumption of drugs at home and stop the flow of arms and ill-gotten cash back into Mexico. "We don't see this as an assistance package," said one high-ranking official in the president's office, who requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the negotiations here. "We see this as increased cooperation."

Mr. Medina Mora, the attorney general, said in the radio interview: "There is a flow, of course, of drugs from the south to the north, but there is also an important flow of arms and money from the north to the south."

While discussions so far have taken place between top diplomats and security experts in the executive branches of both countries, any major aid package for Mexico would probably have to have Congressional approval, officials from both sides said.

Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who represents a border district that includes Laredo, said he supported the proposal, saying it would mark a "historic shift in policy" by giving Mexico an array of tools to crack down on drug dealers. On the table are tools such as surveillance equipment, aircraft, and advanced radar and telephone-tapping equipment, Mr. Cuellar and Mexican officials said.

"It's equipment and technology to make sure they are able to match the power of the drug cartels," Mr. Cuellar said in a recent interview.

Mr. Cuellar was part of a delegation from the House Homeland Security Committee that visited Mexico in April and heard from high-ranking law enforcement officials about the hurdles they faced in fighting well-financed drug cartels.

The official in the Mexican president's office, however, said it might be weeks before a deal could be presented to lawmakers, while United States officials voiced doubt that an agreement would be reached before the Aug. 20 trilateral meeting in Montebello, Quebec.

"There is no final deal," the Mexican official said. "There are many things on the table right now and many of those things involve what the U.S. will do in their territory. This has been going on for several weeks. There is no deadline for this."

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