The United States, building on its promise to help its neighbor Mexico combat rising drug violence, will deepen its cooperation to address the social issues that fuel the narcotics trade on both sides of our mutual border.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently led a delegation of U.S. officials who traveled to Mexico City to discuss the situation. She committed to take action to strengthen law enforcement, address a lack of economic opportunity that draws people into the drug trade, and revamp border operations to promote trade and movement between the two countries while still providing essential security. The U.S.-Mexico relationship is as broad as it is complex, and our cooperation is based on a recognition of shared responsibility and goals.
Beginning in 2007, the United States has worked closely with Mexico to quell drug related violence that has killed some 18,000 people in the last three years. Under the Merida Initiative, named for the Mexican coastal city where the agreement was reached, the U.S. pledged $1.4 billion to boost law enforcement with new equipment, support police professionalization, and implement judicial system reforms.
Although there have been successes under Merida, drug violence continues. Now then is the time to move beyond police and military aid to help strengthen Mexico's communities, law enforcement institutions and the rule of law. Steps also will be taken to curb demand for drugs in the U.S., a force fueling the violence. What will emerge is a new vision for the management of our borders, one based on both security and social engagement for the benefit of our two nations.