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Mexican Politicians Resist Comparisons to Colombia

Some Mexican politicians are not happy with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments yesterday comparing Mexico’s drug cartel problem to an insurgency and arguing for actions similar to those Colombia used to fight its drug trade.

Clinton’s comparison signaled to some that the U.S. wants to step up its involvement in Mexico, fighting the country’s drug cartels like it did in Colombia. But Mexican politicians aren’t so sure the comparison between the two fights is accurate, The Christian Science Monitor reported today:

Mexico’s security spokesman Alejandro Poire acknowledged that there are “some similarities” to Colombia. But Mr. Poire also said “there’s a big difference between what Colombia faced back then and what we are facing right now,” Euronews reported. He added that America’s demand for illegal drugs is the root cause of Mexico’s problems. He also pointed to US guns trafficked to Mexican drug cartels as a serious concern. [...]

Among Mexican officials, there are serious concerns that Clinton’s remarks may be trying to lay the foundation for a US intervention in Mexico not unlike Plan Colombia. Under that anti-drug program, the US sent military forces to work with the Colombian army to break up drug cartels. The program has cost the US $7 billion and is widely controversial in Latin America.

“Whoever thinks Colombia is a cure-all, and if the United States thinks it is necessary to apply the same model to us they applied to Colombia, they are mistaken,” Mexican Senator Ricardo Monreal was quoted saying in the Guardian. He added that US assistance to Colombia had not brought an end to the drug trade there.

The Mexican politicians are right: Colombia still has a problem with the drug trade. But experts argue Colombia can be used as a guide for how to combat the drug trade by stemming the flow of money to drug lords.

In an interview last month, Bob Killebrew, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, called Colombia’s fight against the drug trade “the only success story in the Western Hemisphere right now.” He says the Colombian model, though imperfect, should be exported to other countries to show how to stop drug cartels by cutting off their resources and taking out leaders.

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