President Barack Obama said Mexico’s battle against drug cartels isn’t comparable to Colombia’s fight against traffickers 20 years ago.
“Mexico is a large and progressive democracy with a growing economy,” Obama said in an interview with La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles. “As a result, you can’t compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago.”
Obama’s remarks contrasted with those made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said yesterday that escalating Mexican violence resembles the war of terror waged against the Colombian government two decades ago.
Clinton said that in some cases Mexican drug cartels are “morphing into, making common cause, with what we would consider an insurgency.” Clinton, who visited in Mexico in March 2009, also praised Mexican President Felipe Calderon for his efforts in combating the narcotics kingpins.
Clinton “believes there are very real differences” between the two situations, Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said today. “The basis of her comments was the manner in which criminal organizations in Mexico are challenging authority as we also saw in Colombia.”
Mexico is taking “decisive action,” and support from the U.S. and other nations can help break the cartels, he said.
In the past two weeks in northern Mexico, two mayors have been assassinated, a car bomb exploded outside a television station, and 72 migrants were found massacred. In June, a gubernatorial candidate was killed.
Alejandro Poire, the Mexican government’s security spokesman, yesterday denied Mexico’s situation resembled Colombia’s.
Deaths related to drug trafficking have surged during Calderon’s term as the government battles organized crime. Violence related to the narcotics trade has killed more than 28,000 people since Calderon began fighting drug gangs when he came to office in December 2006.
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