Thursday, March 3, 2011

Obama, Calderon Pledge Cooperation on Drug War

President Felipe Calderón of Mexico and the U.S. president Barack Obama at a press conference at the White House in Washington DC on March 3, 2011.

By JULIE PACE Associated Press

Seeking to repair damaged relations, President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon agreed Thursday to deepen their cooperation in combating drug violence and declared a breakthrough in efforts to end a long-standing dispute over cross-border trucking.

During a joint news conference at the White House, Obama praised Calderon for his "extraordinary courage" in fighting the violent drug cartels that have been responsible for deaths on both sides of the border. Obama pledged to speed up U.S. aid to train and equip Mexican forces to help in those efforts, but he also acknowledged that the U.S. must stem the flow of cash and guns to Mexico that have aided the cartels.

"We are very mindful that the battle President Calderon is fighting inside of Mexico is not just his battle, it's also ours," Obama said. "We have to take responsibility just as he's taken responsibility."

Calderon's visit comes three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death in northern Mexico with a gun smuggled in from the U.S. The incident raised questions in the U.S. about Mexico's ability to control violence and has Obama administration officials considering arming U.S. agents working across the border to ensure their safety.

Mexican law bans foreign law enforcement agents working in the country from bearing arms, and Calderon vehemently expressed his opposition to making an exception for U.S. personnel. But he said Zapata's death showed a need to consider alternative methods for protecting agents.

"His death must urge us to work together to ensure a prosperous and peaceful future for our region," Calderon said.

Obama said the U.S. is seeking extradition of several suspects arrested in Mexico in connection with Zapata's death.

Tensions between the North American allies were already heightened ahead of Zapata's death. Secret State Department cables released last year revealed a grim assessment by U.S. officials of Mexico's ability to fight drug cartels, saying the country has limited intelligence-gathering capacity and quoting Calderon as saying politicians could be tempted to return to a tacit policy of tolerating the gangs.

In a show of confidence in Calderon's efforts, the Obama administration said it would continue to send aid to support Mexico in the drug war. A senior administration official said the U.S. plans to speed up implementation of the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, with $900 million to be doled out by the end of the year. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was not authorized to speak publicly about the agreement.

Stephen Johnson, director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that given the breadth of the U.S-Mexico relationship, it was critical that Obama and Calderon meet before tensions escalated further.

"There are junctures like this where leaders have to get together and work through any misunderstanding that there might be, and then agree ways on ways to move forward," Johnson said.

Eager to show signs of a productive partnership, Obama and Calderon agreed to a phased-in plan that would authorize both Mexican and U.S. long-haul carriers to engage in cross-border operations provided the Mexican trucks meet U.S. safety standards. Both countries were given this authority under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, but the U.S. has refused to allow Mexican trucks access amid concerns over their ability to meet stringent U.S. safety and environmental standards.

Mexico has placed higher tariffs on dozens of U.S. products in response to the unresolved dispute. Under the proposed agreement, Mexico will agree to lift those tariffs in phases, with all tariffs lifted once the first Mexican carrier receives authorization to travel on U.S. roads.

Negotiating teams, which are still working out details of the plan, are expected to send an agreement to Congress this spring.

News of a pending agreement won Obama praise from some in the business community, who have argued that the delay in opening cross-border trucking and the resulting tariffs have cost Americans jobs.

Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said finalizing a deal between the U.S. and Mexico would be, "a major step toward providing certainty to trucking companies and shippers throughout North America."

Johnson said it was important for the U.S. and Mexico to lower tensions ahead of Obama's trip to Latin America later this month. He'll visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador.

Calderon last visited the White House in May, at the height of the debate over Arizona's immigration law that makes it a crime to be in the U.S. illegally and requires police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. Mexican officials strongly oppose the law, as does Obama, who told Calderon on Thursday that he's still committed to comprehensive immigration reform, saying it was vital to the U.S. economy.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, another pledge to work together. What is this the 15th one in the last 10 years or so? Did we break any of our previous pledges that would require it to be reiterated?

    This is pointless, meaningless grandstanding. This will go on forever until the drug war ends, unfortunately.

    Sucks to be you, Mexico, cause that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. The best you can hope for is one faction to wipe the other out, but that will only address the symptoms, not the root problem. It'll only be a matter of time before the situation repeats itself when another ambitious and brutal group starts the whole cycle of violence again.

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  2. Both of these politicians are not going to do anything but give empty promises. They are both greedy cowards. They care more about their money and their own families but they really don't care enough about their own country. They are not true leaders.

    A true leader is someone who's intentions begin from righteousness. Someone who is a fighter for the people and is willing to sacrifice his own life for the power of the people. Not for the power of himself.

    Real political leaders do not exist anymore. Instead we get a bunch of cowards like George dubya(jr.), Felipe calderon(pendejo), Barack obama(slick)

    I view these leaders as clowns(sell-outs)

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  3. We need to stop getting into each others buisness.
    Both US and Mexico have a lot of their own to fix.
    US needs to keep money in US. Us needs to shut down the border no in no out. US tighten up on gun control and get help for the drug addicts. Mexico, well im not sure when your children have lost their souls. The government needs to provide jobs with good pay, education, feed the poor, instill faith, compassion, TRUST. Maybe a new type of government.

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  4. Do American truckers really want to travel in Mexico? Just sayin...

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  5. Sounds to me they just making drug trafficking alot easier now.

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  6. Obama better get his head out of his ass and allow all U.S. law enforcement in Mexico to carry firearms. What a crock of shit!

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  7. If Obama would prosecute ATF for letting guns walk, then its a start.
    Calderon should demand Extraditing those scumbags as accesories to murder.

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  8. Mexico will continue to smuggle drugs,Money and guns will continue to go to Mexico, what COULD HAPPEN IS Mexico could develop a FUNCTIONING EFFECTIVE government and the Mexican lifestyle COULD develop some form of ETHICS and MORALITY,if so everybody wins,standard of living goes up in Mexico,stability,accountability, confidence,prosperity,imagine going to Mexico and not being afraid of being jacked up by the local poilce,being afraid of getting your car stolen etc.---

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  9. how much is this gonna cost the US taxpayer? ...more than it would cost to really secure our border i bet ...Mexico is not some poor assed third world country...irregardless of what you have been brainwashed to believe...there is a lot of wealth in Mexico...just held by a few greedy pinche madres, who don't want to invest in their own countrys future..how did fatso slim get to be the richest man in el mundo ..if there weren't enough people buying cell phones?.. truly poor starving people don't have the disposable income to do this

    i have seen lots of people in the USA who are worse off than ANYBODY i have ever seen in Mexico....go check out the Souix reservation at pine ridge S.D sometime

    check out parts of the rural south ...the coal fields of appalachia...urban areas in some big citys ...st louis ..detroit

    Mexico needs to change it's own diaper, and pay to clean up it's own shit mess

    we need a president who can find his own country on the map


    omamba can find israel, and any of their enemies...(pretty much the whole world)...and he can find libya...

    WHY is our army in afgannystan killing shoeless guys

    WHY are our own factorys put out of business by cheap ass shit imported from china...

    BETTER START CHECKING THE FOOD LABELS...IF YOU DON'T WANT POISONED BY THE CHINESE

    you will be surprised how much food is coming from china and vietnam..two old friends of the American people

    why do we have a national debt?

    do you even know what the "national debt" is?

    IT IS THE MONEY OWED BY OUR GOVERNMENT TO THE CONSORTIUM OF PRIVATE BANKS WHO CONTROL THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK...MONEY BORROWED PRIMARILY TO FUND WARS AND MILITARY BASES ALL OVER THE PLANET , AND ALSO USED TO OFFER EASY CREDIT TO INFLATE PRICES BEYOND A PERSONS ABILITY TO SAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE CASH PURCHASES AND TO ESTABLISH PERPETUAL DEBT AND ECONOMIC ENSLAVEMENT FOR THE POPULATION

    our enemys are not the muslims, not the afganis, the iraqis..our true enemys and the enemys of most of the rest of the world are on wall street, and in the "cite of london" financial district



    once Mexico is beaten into submission through uncontrolled violence , the people will be glad to accept any peace offered, and it will come with unlimited credit to "rebuild",resulting in massive perpetual national debt , that burden of repayment will be borne by the common person, heavily taxed, laboring in the factories ...while multi national corps. loot the country of natural resources ...everybody will be employed, in debt and happily hooked to the plow for ever

    same old formula ..same old results

    ever wonder WHY things are the way they are ...research for yourself and find out

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  10. Operation "Fast and Furious"
    So Ice agent Jaime Zapata and U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry were killed with weapons that were under the not so watchful eye of ATF! Hows it feel to be betrayed?

    Officials told the Center that ATF allowed about 1,765 firearms over the 15 months of the operation to pass from gun dealers to the suspected straw buyers that were the accomplices of the gun running ring.

    Dodson, who told the Center he expects to be fired for speaking out, said four of the seven agents on the strike force had strong reservations about what they were being instructed to do. The three others, he said, backed the approach. Dodson’s biggest fear was that some of the guns would eventually be used against law enforcement.
    That fear was soon realized.
    http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/2976/
    and video http://widget.newsinc.com/fullplayerwvars.html?wid=1787&cid=507&spid=23344692&freewheel=90031&sitesection=themonitor_top

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  11. The things these buffoons say mean less than nothing. Obama, Pelosi, Napolitano, etc etc all repeat the same garbage then do whatever they feel like doing. First comment had it best.

    This situation is one for the people to fix. We might get some help from law enforcement agencies, but don't expect any of our politicians to push forward with anything real.

    They are all afraid to rock the shaky boat they are in. Always have been and always will be. Weak, weak, weak, brittle fools. Kick the can on down the road and let the next round of politicos deal with it.

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