Will the Hillary Clinton Mexico visit bring a drug war shift?
A high-level US delegation meets with Mexican officials today to discuss bilateral strategies for tackling the drug war. But will there be any changes during the Hillary Clinton Mexico visit?
The visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Mexico City today to discuss US aid for Mexico to fight organized crime underscores a sense of urgency in Washington after an American couple was slaughtered in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez earlier this month.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Mexico's drug war
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But many hope the high-level delegation, which includes Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, also marks a new strategy by both countries to stem violence that appears to be closer than ever to US soil and that has propelled swaths of Mexico into a state of crisis.
“It’s a way of really showing the US commitment to helping and enabling this fight, but it’s also to transmit serious concerns about the limitations of the approach,” says David Mena Alemán, director of international studies at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s dispatching of more than 45,000 military and federal police across the country to fight organized crime. “The consequences are getting way out of hand.”
The tipping point in Mexico came in January after a massacre in Ciudad Juarez, mostly of teens with no ties to organized crime. Residents demanded an end to the military-led strategy, which has been both heralded and condemned, as 18,000 have lost their lives since it was spearheaded in December 2006.
For the first time, more Mexicans surveyed nationwide by the ISA polling firm said they disapprove of the work that Mr. Calderón is doing: 53 percent disapprove, while 45 percent approve, according to the survey results.
On Friday, two men killed during a shootout between the military and gunmen were later identified as innocent bystanders, graduate students from a prestigious university in Monterrey, one of Mexico’s largest cities. There, suspected drug lords have blocked highways recently with giant trucks, snarling traffic in what officials call an attempt to display their power.
President Calderón has responded with an ambitious new programs in Ciudad Juarez – which officials say could be replicated elsewhere – to focus on tackling the causes of crime, such as a lack of job opportunities, low education, and poverty.