02/23/11 – In a recent interview with El Universal, President Felipe Calderón revealed that he personally feels that insufficient efforts have been made by foreign countries, primarily the US, in regards to Mexico’s national security strategy. The Mexican president stated that not enough efforts have been made to fight against not just organized crime, but also common crimes like thefts, which constitute 83% of crimes in Mexico. With regard to the US, Calderón feels that it is still failing to address two main concerns, which are to reduce drug consummation in the states and to reduce the flow of arms into Mexico. A great percentage of the illegally obtained arms that drug cartels use are believed to be smuggled from the US. Calderón also critiqued the lack of coordination among US intelligence agencies, like the DEA and CIA. He feels that they each have their own agendas and therefore do not coordinate as much as they should in their efforts to combat narco-trafficking.
In May 2010 during a visit that Calderón made to the US, he expressed similar concerns. He met with President Obama and addressed a joint session of Congress in which he pressed the issue that US efforts are not sufficient. At the time, one of Calderón’s close friends was recently kidnapped and blood was found in the man’s vehicle. His whereabouts until this day remain unknown. Another story that made headline news in many Mexican newspapers was the death of a candidate from Mr. Calderón’s center-right National Action Party (PAN) in the state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, who was shot dead the week prior to the US visit.
A factor that could prove worrisome for Calderón is the dramatic decrease in funds for the Merida Initiative that the US State Department has proposed for the upcoming fiscal year. The US mainly provides support to Mexico through this program by “providing equipment and training in support of law enforcement operations and technical assistance to promote the long-term reform, oversight and professionalization of Mexico’s security agencies. This multi-year program demonstrates the United States’ commitment to work in partnership with governments in Mexico, the nations of Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti to confront criminal organizations whose illicit actions undermine public safety, erode the rule of law, and threaten the national security of the United States.” In 2010, Congress requested $450 million for Mexico and $100 million for Central America. This year, the Department of State has proposed $282 million, which is almost half of what Mexico received last year. The Department of State has defended its position by stating that it wants to focus more on strengthening institutions versus supplying military equipment.