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US and Mexico look to revive security partnership


Prime US and Mexican officers met on Friday to strive revitalise a bilateral safety relationship that has been blighted by the high-profile arrest of a former Mexican defence minister final yr.

Having simply sought to patch up relations with France after the fallout from the Aukus submarine deal, Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, met Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, to debate migration, drug trafficking and prison justice.

The 2 sides outlined a broader framework for safety co-operation together with work on substance abuse, social programmes and port controls to dam passage of chemical substances used to make artificial medication.

“It’s time for a complete new method to our safety co-operation,” Blinken stated in Mexico Metropolis on Friday.

The US state division stated on Thursday that it hoped to have an in depth plan by the tip of January 2022. Some see the mere existence of high-level talks as a step ahead for the rocky relationship between the international locations, which share a border that’s practically 2,000 miles lengthy.

“The truth that we’re speaking once more is enormously essential,” stated Pamela Starr, a professor on the College of Southern California who has suggested each the Mexican and US governments on overseas affairs. “Speaking and collaborating is step one to getting stuff completed.”

US-Mexico relations grew extra fractious beneath former president Donald Trump, and sustained important injury final yr when US authorities detained Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican defence minister, on drug trafficking costs with out tipping off Mexico prematurely.

In response, Mexico’s authorities launched a marketing campaign to have him launched, calling the allegations baseless, and handed a regulation limiting the actions of overseas brokers on Mexican soil.

The US in the end relented and dropped the fees, citing “delicate and essential overseas coverage issues”. However when Mexico later printed lots of of pages of proof from the case, Washington threatened to finish prison co-operation.

A cornerstone of the bilateral safety relationship has been the Mérida Initiative, a US funding stream that turned synonymous with navy tools for Mexico’s warfare on medication. Mexico had requested for it to get replaced.

Blinken stated on Friday that after 13 years of Mérida, it was time for one thing new to sort out to root causes of the international locations’ safety issues.

“Goodbye Mérida, welcome Bicentennial Settlement,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s overseas minister stated, calling it a brand new part for the bilateral safety relationship.

Alejandro Mayorkas, US homeland safety chief, additionally attended the assembly. Immigration by Mexico has turn out to be a political drawback for president Joe Biden, with the US authorities’ dealing with of the arrival in September of 1000’s of Haitian migrants on the border drawing widespread condemnation.

In recent times, the US has pushed Mexico to step up enforcement in opposition to migrants, together with using the Nationwide Guard and deportation flights. That reliance has made Washington reluctant to criticise López Obrador publicly about different insurance policies, consultants stated.

“There’s no query in my thoughts the Biden administration is attempting to be as quiet and as diplomatic as they presumably can with López Obrador,” stated Starr from the College of Southern California. “They only don’t have the political area in america to lose Mexico’s co-operation on migration.”

The US-Mexico safety relationship has lengthy been targeted on drug trafficking and associated violence. Since 2007, Mexico has seen a surge in its murder fee, with organised crime infiltrating authorities, virtually 100,000 individuals lacking, and lots of of 1000’s displaced from their houses.

López Obrador has taken a much less confrontational method to the nation’s drug cartels than his predecessors, in what he calls a “hugs not bullets” technique. In a seminal second in 2019, his authorities launched the son of infamous drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán not lengthy after seize to keep away from civilian deaths.

“There’s a technique to keep away from confrontation,” stated Romain Le Cour, co-ordinator of the safety and violence discount programme at think-tank México Evalúa. “By way of figures, it’s apparently not working — murder charges usually are not dropping.”

Along with rising violence, the US has turn out to be more and more involved over the booming commerce for Mexican cartels in artificial medication like fentanyl, which kills tens of 1000’s of individuals a yr within the US.

Le Cour hopes that the dialogue will acknowledge the previous failures and search for methods to construct public establishments quite than simply react to threats.

“There have been billions of {dollars} poured into the US-Mexico safety co-operation, and the state of affairs shouldn’t be enhancing in goal phrases,” he stated. “On the bottom, it’s a complete failure truthfully.”

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