Tags: calderon | mexico | drug

Mexico's President: We Need U.S. Help in Drug Wars

Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009 12:09 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the United States must show “through its actions” that it “assumes its part of responsibility in this fight” against drug trafficking along the Mexico-U.S. border, but he made clear he would not support a U.S. military intervention.

“I appreciate the new stance of the American administration, which has expressed a desire to collaborate more broadly – not with Mexico – but in the fight against a common problem,” Calderon said in a speech at a joint press conference yesterday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Calderon says as Americans continue to use drugs, smuggling cannot be eliminated. He says the battle for control of territory among organized cartels and drug lords has now claimed more than 7,200 lives since January 2008, including six more killed yesterday in a series of attacks in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, the Associated Press reports.

Along with the six killed yesterday, including the police chief of Pungarabato, were five others gunned down in Tierra Caliente, the state police said. Also Monday, gunmen shot and killed a Michoacan state police commander outside police headquarters in the city of Zamora, AP reports.

Despite Calderon’s hopes to quell the rampant drug violence in the region by the end of his term in 2012, he declined to give a specific timeline for winning the war against drug gangs.

In the meantime, the U.S. has declared a wide swath of Mexico off-limits to “non-essential” travel by government personnel and has issued a travel “alert” for Americans heading to Mexico, the State Department says.

The U.S. Joint Forces Command recently put Mexicot on par with Pakistan, saying both were at risk of "rapid and sudden collapse." Calderon, however, disputes U.S. fears that his government is losing control of its territory.

"To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false," Calderon told the Associated Press last week. "I have not lost any part -- any single part -- of Mexican territory."

Calderon is calling on the U.S. to do more in the war on drugs along the border. He would like to stop the flow of U.S. assault weapons and cash into his country, along with corruption on both sides of the border.

"I'm fighting corruption among Mexican authorities and risking everything to clean house,” Calderon says of the more than 25 high-level officials arrested for suspicion of taking drug bribes, AP reports.

“But I think a good cleaning is in order on the other side of the border," he said.

Calderon applauds cross-border efforts with the U.S. that culminate in drug and smuggling arrests, but he acknowledges that Mexico “can not be the top U.S. priority. President Obama would help Mexico most by fixing his own economic crisis.”

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