Mexico, D.F., January 29, 2005
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio O. Garza, Jr. met today to discuss the State Department’s Public Announcement of January 26, 2005 and the security situation in the northern border region of Mexico.
Both officials noted that their governments recognize that drug trafficking and associated crime do not recognize any borders.
During the meeting, the interest of both governments in the region’s security was stressed, especially as it affects the citizens of both countries who live or visit there. They recognized that the protection of its citizens is a fundamental obligation of any government.
They also agreed that most urban violence in the border region is caused by fighting among gangs, mainly drug traffickers, struggling for control of the narcotics trade, as ever more leaders of major criminal organizations have been arrested by Mexican law enforcement officials.
Secretary Derbez referred to the actions taken by the Mexican government to combat organized crime along the Northern border, among which he stressed the following:
- Never have there been so many organized crime leaders incarcerated in prison. In this task, the Federal Government has counted on the cooperation of state and local authorities, as well as that of U.S. authorities, with whom we have developed bilateral mechanisms of ongoing dialogue.
- Measures have been implemented to strengthen control and discipline in federal prisons, to close off corruption in the prisons, and to improve institutional coordination among the three levels of government.
- In this effort, the Federal Government has substantially increased the presence and operations of federal law enforcement and justice agencies in the border region, including support from the armed forces, in order to overcome the current situation as well as maintain the strategy against organized crime.
Secretary Derbez reiterated that international cooperation is key to continuing the fight against this kind of transnational crime. He expressed his full willingness to continue working with U.S. officials through all established bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
Ambassador Garza clarified that the State Department’s Public Announcement of January 26 had the sole purpose of fulfilling the U.S. government’s responsibility to help protect the safety of its citizens. He noted that it reflected a shared concern over recent acts of violence along the border. He explained that his letter sent the same day to Mexican government officials sought to provide fuller context to the Public Announcement, and to highlight the fact that the wave of border violence is a result of the successful efforts of President Fox’s administration in the fight against organized crime. The Ambassador cited the federal government’s ongoing commitment on this issue, with special mention of the role of the Office of the Attorney General and other federal law enforcement agencies.
The U.S. diplomat reiterated his strong concern for the safety of his fellow citizens. He noted that the State Department announcement did not recommend that Americans avoid traveling to Mexico, but only that they take precautions in certain specific areas. He noted as well that the broad engagement of public opinion in the debate on this issue is an important testament to the popular will for continued strong action and results.
Both governments recognize that cooperation between Mexico and the United States has brought positive results in making the border smarter and more secure through the use of technology. Collaboration between law enforcement institutions on both sides has increased and improved in recent years to the benefit of citizens of both countries.
Both officials underscored that the successes in jointly addressing common problems demonstrate the value of bilateral cooperation. They reaffirmed the determination of their governments to continue cooperating in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. As stated on January 27 by the Mexican Presidency, “during the last four years, Mexico and the United States have built a sound relationship. Our bilateral agenda is not only wide ranging but complex. Dealing with issues such as drug trafficking and money laundering, attacking the supply as well as the demand, stopping violence along the border and other issues require a cooperation based on the acknowledgment of the strengths of each of our nations.”