A former ambassador to Mexico debunks notions of that country as a failed state and pushes for its earned role as a full partner with the U.S. in fighting the drug cartels.
“Failed states do not have functioning executive, legislative and judicial branches,” says Tony Garza,” who was the U.S. ambassador to Mexico for six years, beginning in 2002.
“They do not boast the world’s 12th largest economy, nor do they trade with the United States at a pace of more than $1 billion a day. And, failed states do not demonstrate -- as President Felipe Calderon has done -- the political will to take on the transnational cartels that threaten the region’s security and the courage to sustain that fight until victory is secured.”
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, Garza has been long singing the praises of that embattled country, noting that Mexico is working aggressively to reassert control over areas hardest hit by cartel violence and dominion.
Indeed, the Mexican government has deployed more than 25,000 troops to more than a dozen Mexican states, he emphasizes.
“The government has also demonstrated its muscle with dramatic increases in spending to more than $2.5 billion in 2007 and to more than $4 billion in 2008 to improve public security and counter the cartel-led violence,” Garza instructs as he tries to place things into perspective.
The ambassador noted that more than 5,500 innocent lives were lost last year alone in cartel-related violence, and U.S. border states have seen the war spill into U.S. communities.
“We cannot shy away from the fight because the level of violence is fast becoming tragic in its scope and size, especially when we -- as a nation -- play a pivotal role in the crisis Mexico is battling,” Garza says in the Chronicle report.
“Mexico would not be the center of cartel activity, or be experiencing this level of violence, were the United States not the largest consumer of illicit drugs and the main supplier of weapons to the cartels.”
So what does Garza want to see done? To his thinking, it’s all about following through on the so-called “Merida Initiative.”
The initiative, he explains, is a $1.4 billion commitment by the U.S. to Mexico that provides a framework for a new era of cooperation on security issues between the two nations.
“This landmark bilateral initiative will strengthen existing law enforcement cooperation, intelligence sharing, and provide new equipment for Mexican forces to use to better confront the common threat of drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime,” Garza says.
But, the Merida Initiative must be fully funded by Congress, he says, adding:
“At a time when our own economic woes beg for action by the federal government, we should not, we cannot, cast aside the Merida Initiative as a policy distraction or budget extravagance. To the contrary, the Merida Initiative is a necessity for the region. Our leaders must provide full funding quickly and move law enforcement tools into the field immediately to win this war.”
Garza says he wants President Barack Obama to “forcefully lead and imbue the relationship with his trademark hope and with action indicative of a partner in a war that we must fight and win together.”
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