Mexico, U.S. step up drug-war cooperation
A top operative of Mexico's infamous Sinaloa cartel was arrested Monday.
Mexico just keeps getting deadlier.Skip to next paragraph
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Even as President Felipe Calderón dispatched more than 24,000 military and security forces to pacify areas overrun by drug gangs, the country saw more than 2,500 deaths related to the drug trade in 2007.
Mexico has logged important successes, from extraditions to drug seizures, and Mr. Calderón's administration has been lauded by many observers as the boldest in recent history in the face of organized crime. On Monday, officials announced the arrest of one of Mexico's top operatives, a suspected leader of the infamous Sinaloa cartel.
But with each victory comes another daylight shootout, another federal agent down, and a heightened perception that the problem is bigger than Mexico can solve alone.
So far, the administration has refused to back down and increasingly is appealing to the US for support.
A new rhetoric of "shared responsibility" between the two nations was underscored by the recent visit of US Attorney General Michael Mukasey in Mexico. While the cooperation generates suspicion among those who worry that the US will seek to impose its own interests, many say a bilateral approach is critical if Mexico is to come out from under the deluge of drug violence.
"This is the new perspective of both the Mexican and US governments," says Erubiel Tirado, director of the national security program at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City. "But the Mexican state must define the bilateral agenda, not just the American agenda."
Violence flaring up in Tijuana
Earlier in the week, a police commander was murdered at home, along with his wife and daughter.
President Calderón has vowed to press on. "It is possible to win the battle for public security, " Calderón said earlier this month. "But to achieve that, we must remain united."
In fact, many say that the spikes in violence are a result of increased pressure on the drug lords – and that it will get worse before it gets better, especially if the first $500 million of a potential $1.4 billion US aid package known as the Merida Initiative is approved to assist in enforcmeent.
US drug war aid on the way?
• The Merida Initiative is a $1.4 billion US aid plan for Mexico and Central America.
• If it is passed, $500 million would go to Mexico this year for equipment and training.
Source: Brookings Institution, Council on Hemispheric Affairs