Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently met with Mexican foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena. At the top of the agenda was the scourge of synthetic drugs.
“Here in the United States,” said Secretary Blinken, “fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the number-one killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49”:
“That in and of itself puts it at the very top of the list of our priorities. It’s taken a tremendous toll on a human basis; it’s taken a tremendous toll on an economic basis. More than $1.5 trillion in a single year, the cost of dealing with this epidemic.”
Mexican President López Obrador and President Joe Biden over the last two and a half years have worked together to disrupt illicit supply chains and curb the production and the distribution of opioid precursors, many of which are legal and then get diverted into illegal use. Both nations have also targeted organized crime and drug traffickers and worked on prevention and treatment for addiction.
In addition, Mexico has joined the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats, lauded Secretary Blinken:
“It’s an organized collaboration among some 85 countries to work together on all aspects of the synthetic opioid problem to get a stronger grip on it and to deal with it more effectively.”
Another topic of discussion was irregular migration. There are historic levels of migration going on around the world with more than a hundred million people on the move away from their homes – 20 million in the Western Hemisphere alone. “So, what we’ve determined to do is to work as a region to make migration more safe, more orderly, and more humane,” declared Secretary Blinken:
“One of the things that we’ve been doing in answer to the challenge is to expand legal pathways. And some of the things that we’ve done have demonstrated very clear results, including the – for example, the parole program that involves Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, where we see numbers of those seeking asylum at our border go down significantly as a result of creating a legal pathway.”
As Secretary Blinken noted, “I don’t think there’s been a time when we’ve had stronger partnership and collaboration between Mexico and the United States.”