Skip to content

Hillary Clinton in Mexico

March 26, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Mexico yesterday to address the violence along that country’s border with the United States and to offer what the Washington Post’s Mary Beth Sheridan calls a “mea culpa” for the failed U.S. drug policy:

Clinton sought to soothe the wounded feelings, praising Calderon’s “courage” and announcing that the Obama administration is seeking $66 million in new funding for extra helicopters for the Mexican police. She also pledged further unspecified steps to block the movement of guns southward, and acknowledged that proceeds from drugs sold in the United States — an estimated $15 billion to $25 billion a year — support Mexican drug gangs.

Clinton’s comments came at the start of a U.S. blitz to emphasize support for Mexico’s embattled government and improve relations with Latin America. The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it is sending hundreds more agents and extra high-tech gear to the border to intercept weapons and drug proceeds heading south. U.S. border states have become alarmed about a possible spillover of the drug violence, and Congress has held hearings on the drug war.

Clinton vowed to press for swift delivery of equipment promised under the Merida Initiative, a three-year $1.4 billion package of anti-drug assistance to Mexico and Central America. Mexican officials and U.S. lawmakers say there are long lag times for helicopters and other desperately needed gear. In addition, Mexicans complain that Congress has approved only $700 million of the $950 million that the Bush administration requested for the program since it began last year.

The timing of the visit, coming as it does amid the rise of drug-related violence along the US border, appears aimed at shoring up US support for Calderon and, at the same time, assuring US residents who live along the border that the Obama administration hasn’t forgotten them despite the tight focus on Wall Street and the budget. Recent news reports emphasizing the growing violence between drug gangs along the Mexico/US border have caused speculation that the Mexican government may be at risk of loosing control of the country. Those same reports often mention the culpability of the US in driving demand for drugs and for providing a source for the weapons used by drug gangs to instigate the violence. Whether Clinton’s trip or her conciliatory tone will have much more than a symbolic impact is hard to tell at this early juncture but the Obama administration continues to prove adroit at responding quickly to emerging issues, be they in the economy or abroad.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: