Friday, February 27, 2009


More Rejections


Mexico Rejects US Drugs Warning


Felipe Calderon says cross-border operations with the US are working
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has rejected US concern that his
country could become a failed state because of a growing wave of drug
violence.

Mr Calderon, in an interview with the Associated Press, said the
cartels did not control any part of his country.

He said that he intended to withdraw the army from the fight before
he leaves office in 2012.

Last month, the US military singled out Mexico and Pakistan as two
countries most at risk of sudden collapse.

More than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in Mexico so
far this year as gangs battle over lucrative drug routes into the US.

But President Calderon said that Mexico's territorial integrity,
unlike Colombia's, was still intact.

"To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false. I have not
lost any part, any single point, of the Mexican territory," he said.

"Colombia lost [territory] during several decades… and even today
huge parts of its territory [are] in the hands of the criminals, or
the guerrillas, or some combination of drug traffickers and
guerrillas.

"But in Mexico, all the territory is in the hands of the Mexican
authorities. "

US demand

Mr Calderon said that smuggling could not be totally eradicated as
long as Americans continued to use drugs.

But he said he hoped that by 2012 the cartels would be worn down to a
point where the army and federal police could withdraw and leave the
problem in the hands of local police.

A report published in January by the United States Joint Forces
Command called Mexico and Pakistan "two large and important states
[which] bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse".

Mr Calderon sent troops and federal police into drug strongholds on
his first day in office in December 2006.

But violence has increased, with more than 5,000 people killed in
drug-related incidents in 2008.

US police have closed many smuggling routes, but others appear

Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, in a separate interview with
AP, said that 90% of those killed were involved in the drugs trade,
while only 4% were innocent bystanders. The rest, he said, were
police officers and soldiers.

Mr Calderon called on Washington to do more, by stopping the flow of
drugs cash and powerful US assault weapons into Mexico.

He applauded cross-border operations that US officials said
culminated this week with the arrests of 755 Sinaloa cartel members
and the seizure of $59m (£41m) in the US.

But he acknowledged that Mexico could not be President Barack Obama's
top priority, saying the US would help Mexico most by fixing its own
economic crisis.

He said Latin American leaders had high hopes for President Obama's
first trip to the region at the Summit of the Americas in April.

"President Barack Obama has a tremendous opportunity to recover the
leadership of the United States," he said.


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