Mexico’s Curbs on U.S. Role in Drug Fight Spark Friction

Mexico + United StatesIn their joint fight against drug traffickers, United States and Mexico have forged an unusually close relationship in recent years, with the Americans regularly conducting polygraph tests on elite Mexican security officials to root out anyone who had been corrupted. But shortly after Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office in December, American agents got a clear message the dynamics, with Washington holding the clear upper hand, were about to change. “So do we get to polygraph you?” incoming Mexican official asked American counterparts, alarming United States security officials who consider the vetting of Mexicans central to tracking down drug kingpins. Mexican government briefly stopped its vetted officials from cooperating in sensitive investigations. The Americans are waiting to see if Mexico allows polygraphs when assigning new members to units, a senior Obama administration official said. In another clash, American security officials were recently asked to leave an important intelligence center in Monterrey, where they had worked side by side with an array of Mexican military and police commanders collecting and analyzing tips and intelligence on drug gangs. The Mexicans, scoffing at the notion of Americans’ having so much contact with different agencies, questioned the value of the center and made clear that they would put tighter reins on the sharing of drug intelligence. There have long been political sensitivities in Mexico over allowing too much American involvement. But the recent policy changes have rattled American officials used to far fewer restrictions than they have faced in years. Asked about security cooperation with Mexico at a news conference on Tuesday, President Obama said: “We’ve made great strides in the coordination and the cooperation between our 2 governments over the last several years. But my suspicion is, that things can be improved.” Obama suggested that many of Mexico’s changes “had to do with refinements and improvements in terms of how Mexican authorities work with each other, how they coordinate more effectively, and it has less to do with how they’re dealing with us, per se.” He added, “So I’m not going to yet judge how this will alter the relationship between the United States and Mexico until I’ve heard directly from them to see what exactly are they trying to accomplish.” Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico on Thursday and Friday on a mission publicly intended to broaden economic ties. But behind scenes, Americans are coming to grips with a scaling back of the level of coordination that existed during presidency of Felipe Calderón, which included American drones flying deep into Mexican territory and American spy technology helping to track high-level suspects (…..)



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3 Responses to Mexico’s Curbs on U.S. Role in Drug Fight Spark Friction

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The war on drugs is viewed quite differently if you live in Mexico. Since Felipe Calderon followed Washington advice and militarize the interdiction of narcotics, Mexico became ungovernable and extremely dangerous to live. In the Calderon’s war on drugs, the US provides money-weapons and Mexico provides a body count of over 56,000 people killed so far. The war on drugs was the worst decision ever made by a Mexican president. The bloody domestic conflict weakened even further an institutionally weak and corrupt government and moved the country closer to a failed state. Mexico became the new Colombia of Latin America. Pres Pena Nieto knows the war on drugs has been lost, the country has no future if it goes on. He faces a difficult political situation in dealing with Washington. It won’t be easy to convince the White House about changing strategy. Many influential and powerful people in the two sides of the border are profiting from the status quo. However, if Pena Nieto wants to regain some control of the Mexican state, the war on drugs must be first order of business to be taken care. Pena Nieto is doing the right thing.

  2. President Obama, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of young people here, on Friday declared a new era in relations with Mexico that will focus on strengthening the countries’ economic ties and that will play down the battle against drug gangs that has dominated the discourse for several years. Hours after a private dinner with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, who has made an overhaul of laws to foster economic growth the highlight of his five-month-old term, Mr. Obama urged Americans to look past stereotypes of Mexican violence and despair, and embrace the country’s strengthening democracy and economic health. “We agree that the relationship between our nations must be defined not by the threats that we face, but by the prosperity and the opportunity that we can create together,” Mr. Obama said to vigorous applause before an audience of high school and college students at the National Anthropology Museum. After suggesting a few days ago that security relations between the United States and Mexico could be better, Mr. Obama hardly mentioned the subject in his speech or in earlier remarks on Thursday, a sign the topic has given American officials plenty of headaches. Thousands of people have been killed in battles between Mexican drug gangs and the police and military, while the flow of cocaine and marijuana flourishes. Business analysts have said Mexico’s economy would be even further along without its violence. But investment has gone forward, and the economy is a sunnier subject over all; the United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner and Mexico is the United States’ third largest, behind Canada and China. Poverty remains deep here. Mr. Peña Nieto acknowledged this week that three of five Mexicans scrape by on informal jobs and that wages have so stagnated that they are now lower than China’s, contributing to a sense among the members of the public that they are not yet feeling “Mexico’s moment,” as the government slogan would have it. But a surge of investment in manufacturing, technology and other sectors has helped lift the middle class and consumer spending and contributed to growth levels in the national economy that have been double those of the United States in the past two years. Still, economic and trade talks have caused plenty of friction and disagreements, too. Mexican government officials, in private talks with Mr. Obama, homed in on long, costly waits for trucks and workers at the international border in both directions, but far more severe going into the United States. The backups grew significantly with the United States security clampdown on the border after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and budget constraints and the political reality of the mood for tighter border security may inhibit building new or larger stations or adding manpower to them (…..)

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Mexico-US is the most unequal and asymmetrical relation between two countries in the world. In the North, one of the most advanced economies and sole aggressive military superpower, the US. In the South, a developing economy with wealth and political power concentrated in the hands of few families since independence, Mexico. Impossible for the White House to treat a Mexican president with respect and dignity. The deep seated social and economic problems of Mexico’s society can only be solved by changes in the political process. The majority of the population are worse off today than 50 years ago. Illegal immigration to the rich El Norte is the only way out of poverty for millions of Mexicans. Political changes are impossible for many reasons, including the US. Washington will not accept a candidate from the opposition willing to take socio – economic reforms in favor of the majority poor. The danger of a Hugo Chavez South of the border is unacceptable for Washington. Thus, Mexico’s social status quo of the richest man in the world surrounded by millions of poor will not change anytime soon.


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