The North American Summit in Washington, D.C., was the scene of a Mexican-American standoff of sorts when the presidents of both countries fired verbal shots at each other over the drug and gun violence that has plagued the border region for the past six years.
On Monday, amid talks of free trade, energy, climate change and other issues between North American neighbors, the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Presidents Barack Obama and Felipe Calderon had a respectful yet direct exchange over the cartel wars.
Both men were concerned about the other’s role in the drug wars in northern Mexico that have cost the lives of more than 47,000 and caused political unease, security concerns and general fear on both sides.
The timing of the subject is touchy for Mexico, to say the least, as Calderon’s six-year term is coming to an end. One of his promises was to crack down on cartel violence, but his entire term, while marked with minor successes, has ultimately been a bloodbath.
Mexico sees the U.S. as a major instigator of that through our country’s endless appetite for illicit drugs fueling Mexico’s narcotics industry.
It’s been clear for decades that drugs head north and guns and cash move south, a damning symbiotic relationship that has cast a pall over both countries as they struggle to deal with these criminal and social issues.
Not that we would have expected any less, there was a begrudging willingness for each to acknowledge their own failings. But to what degree? Mexico has to answer for its inability to squash the internal government corruption that is so prevalent at all levels and crack down harsher on the cartels. The U.S., in turn, has been recognized as having a failed domestic drug policy that favors criminalization rather than treatment and rehabilitation, which drives Mexico’s production and violence.
The result of both has been a stalemate of blood and death turning the streets of the border regions red.
The answers won’t come easily and the heated exchange didn’t help matters, but some of the honest admissions of the problem were a step in the right direction. But, as both countries prepare for an election, don’t expect any advancement on the issue.
North American Summit brings together U.S. and Mexico.
Presidents Obama and Calderon have harsh words over drug wars, but talk truth.
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