MEXICO CITY – The United States and Mexico on Tuesday reconfirmed their shared responsibility in fighting organized criminal organizations affecting their lengthy shared border and signed a joint declaration in which they reinforced their cooperation in all areas, including the socio-economic sphere.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa held a press conference after participating in the second meeting of the High-Level Group in this capital, a meeting that had been called as a result of the wave of violence besetting the common frontier region.
“Yes, we accept our share of the responsibility,” Clinton said. “We know that the demand for drugs drives much of this illicit trade and that guns purchases in the U.S. are used to facilitate violence here in Mexico.”
She said that Washington “firmly” supports the campaign launched by Mexican President Felipe Calderon to fight drug trafficking cartels.
Accompanied by top security officials from both nations, Clinton and Espinosa reviewed the main issues that were discussed at the first meeting of the High-Level Group held in December 2008.
The joint declaration signed Tuesday in Mexico City says that both countries have consolidated a strategic vision for the coming years that assures the continuity of their bilateral activities and promotes the economic and social development of the communities most affected by the violence.
Espinosa called the more-than-three-hour session productive and fruitful, thanks to the change in paradigm pushed by Calderon and U.S. President Barack Obama.
She thanked Clinton for the U.S. commitment to push the bilateral relationship and Washington’s “clear willingness to eliminate bottlenecks” that have delayed the delivery of equipment under the Washington-funded regional crime-fighting plan known as the Merida initiative.
Clinton said she very much regretted the recent murders of three people linked to the U.S. consulate in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, saying that her heart “is broken” by those deeds.
She was accompanied to Mexico City by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser.
Turf battles among drug cartels and the security forces’ struggle against the illegal trade have claimed nearly 19,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when Calderon took office.
Vowing to crush the cartels, the rightist president has deployed 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police to the country’s most conflictive areas, yet the pace of drug-related killings has only accelerated, from 2,700 people in 2007 to 7,724 fatalities last year.
This year’s death toll has already topped 2,000. EFE