Mexican President: U.S. Cooperation in Fighting Drug Cartels in Mexico Is ‘Notoriously Insufficient’

By Edwin Mora | February 25, 2011 | 5:00 AM EST

Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the White House. ( Starr)

( - Mexican President Felipe Calderón said his administration’s war against drug cartels is impeded by  “notoriously insufficient” cooperation from the U.S.

“I found cooperation in this [counter-narcotics] matter with both President Bush and President Obama, but obviously the cooperation ends up being notoriously insufficient,” said Calderón during a Feb. 22 exclusive interview with the Mexican newspaper El Universal.

He continued, “What should Americans cooperate in? In reducing the consumption of drugs -- they haven’t reduced that; and two, in stopping the flow of weapons, and they haven’t reduced that -- instead they’ve increased it.”

As he did on May 2010 before the U.S. Congress, Calderón called on the U.S. to reinstate its assault weapons ban.

According to Calderón, the ones suffering from a lack of cooperation are U.S. agencies: “We see that the DEA, CIA and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] always have a policy” of their own,” said the Mexican president. “The truth is, they’re not coordinated and they rival one another.”

The Mexican president criticized American efforts to combat drug-related crimes in Mexico despite the fact that the U.S., in recent years, has provided over a billion dollars in aid for counter-narcotics operations in that country with millions more to come.  

In an effort to address the narcotics-related crime issues in Mexico and Central America, the U.S. launched the Mérida Initiative in late 2007, a $1.6 billion multi-year program aimed at supporting law enforcement activities by providing training and equipment.

Mexico will receive more than 80 percent of the initiative’s funding.  A report last month issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) revealed that with the FY2010 supplemental appropriations, “total U.S. assistance to Mexico under Mérida reached roughly $1.5 billion.”  

“Another $500 million worth of equipment and training are to be provided in 2011,” noted the report.

During the interview, the Mexican president mentioned that recent disclosures of U.S. diplomatic e-mails by Wikileaks have strained the relationship between Mexico and Washington.

Calderon said the American diplomats mentioned in the leaks tend to “pour lots of cream on their tacos,” which is an expression that means they tend to exaggerate.

“They always want to raise their own agendas before their bosses and they have done much damage with the stories they tell by distorting the truth,” he added.

When asked to point to a particular leaked cable, the Mexican leader referred to U.S. diplomats who spoke of the lack of coordination between different Mexican agencies.  

He continued on to say that there is no need for him to tell the U.S. ambassador how many times he meets with his security cabinet or what is said during those meetings.

“I do not accept nor tolerate any kind of intervention, but the ignorance of the U.S. ambassador results in a distortion of what happens in Mexico,” which ends up being a “nuisance” to his team, added Calderón.

The Mérida Initiative is only one of many U.S. programs aimed at reducing problems related to organized crime in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) also provides counter-narcotics support to Mexico.

According to a July 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), “DOD counternarcotics funding to Mexico totaled an estimated $12.2 million in fiscal year 2008, $34.2 million in fiscal year 2009, and $34.5 million in fiscal year 2010.”

On Jan. 12, Alejandro Poiré, Mexico’s national security secretary, said that since President Calderón took office in December 2006, there have been 34, 612 violent murders in Mexico, deaths the government presumes to be related to organized crime.