Antonio O. Garza: “The bottom line is that we simply cannot allow drug traffickers to place in jeopardy the lives of our citizens and the safety of our communities.”
Mexico City, September 14, 2006: “Violence in the U.S.-Mexico border region continues to threaten our very way of life, and as friends and neighbors, Mexicans and Americans must be honest about the near-lawlessness of some parts of our border region. Recently, throughout Mexico, that violence has escalated with sharp increases in murders and kidnappings of Mexican and American citizens alike. Many residents of Mexico have spoken to me of their deep concern, both for their personal safety and for the future of their communities … a concern I share.
Narco-violence has claimed 1,500 Mexican lives this year and threatened many more, according to public sources. Drug cartels, aided by corrupt officials, reign unchecked in many towns along our common border.
Two days ago in a hotel in Nuevo Laredo, armed men kidnapped 25 individuals who were going to work for a Texas-based company, assaulting and threatening to kill them, apparently mistaking them for a rival drug gang. Last week, six young men 14-19 years old, including one American citizen, were killed in a gang-related shootout. Two weeks ago, an hour-long gun battle in downtown Nuevo Laredo occurred. Americans have been killed in random shootings on major highways outside of Mexico City, Nuevo Laredo, and in the Mexican heartland. In the past two years, there have been dozens of unresolved kidnappings involving American citizens along the border, with over 20 of those cases still unresolved in Nuevo Laredo alone. Mexican law enforcement officials and journalists have been murdered or tortured.
The recent increase in these crimes is cause for alarm for any number of reasons, among them that the crimes put a strain on travel and tourism, on the business and investment climate, and on the bilateral relationship we share. Local law enforcement in Mexico—often driven by their fear of being targeted themselves for execution—have struggled to come to grips with rising drug warfare, kidnappings and random street violence, and the violence continues to undermine our bilateral efforts to have the safe cross-border exchanges, tourism and commerce that are so vital to the region’s prosperity.
The Administration of President Fox has done a great deal to ensure that the rule of law is the rule of Mexico. They have also worked closely with American law enforcement to investigate crimes and reduce violence along our border. But more must be done. Together, we can restore order and successfully take on those who are undermining our society, culture, and institutions.
Today, I issued an advisory message to American citizens describing the increased violence in Mexico and asking them to exercise caution here. Of course, the United States offers its continued cooperation in this battle against criminals in Mexico in hopes of protecting our communities and our citizens from wanton violence. I also have relayed my personal concern to President Fox and the Government of Mexico.”