The next few weeks will be filled with discussions about the future of U.S.-Mexico relations in fighting drug cartel violence.
The Houston Chronicle reports that next week, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on border affairs, will meet with State Department officials to discuss the expansion of the Merida Initiative, a program that helps Mexico with equipment and training. He is also planning a subcommittee hearing to decide the best way to send military equipment to Mexico, fast-track training initiatives and cooperate with the Mexican military and law enforcement to fight cartel violence.
Cuellar’s planned meetings come after lawmakers met with Mexican president Felipe Calderon earlier this week. Cuellar and Reps. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), who met Calderon in Mexico City, said yesterday they will attempt to expedite aid, including helicopters and other equipment, to the Mexican government to help them fight drug cartel violence. Reyes said Obama and Calderón have been working to develop a “next phase” of assistance, since the government’s Merida Initiative, a program that helps Mexico with equipment and training, is in its last year.
The kind of violence they intend to mitigate? The kind happening throughout Cuidad Juarez. Since U.S. authorities now believe Juarez’s trafficking routes are controlled by Mexico’s most powerful cartel leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel, drug traffickers could become more powerful now than ever, and violence could get worse.
From Cuellar’s press release: