Mexico President: US Doesn't Help Enough in Drug War

February 22, 2011 - 7:29 PM

Mexico City (AP) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the U.S. government isn't doing enough to help Mexico in its fight against drug cartels.

He also isn't happy about U.S. diplomatic cables that he contends wrongly criticized Mexico's anti-drug strategy, saying U.S.-Mexico relations were strained after the documents were made public by WikiLeaks.

"I have found cooperation on this matter with President (George W.) Bush and with President (Barack) Obama, but obviously institutional cooperation ends up being notoriously insufficient," Calderon told the Mexican newspaper El Universal in an interview published Tuesday.

Calderon said the U.S. government should help by reducing drug use in the United States, the biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world, and by stemming the flow of automatic rifles to Mexican drug gangs.

"How can Americans cooperate? By reducing drug use, which they haven't done," Calderon said. "And, the flow of weapons hasn't slowed, it has increased."

U.S. and Mexican officials have constantly said the two countries have reached an unprecedented level of cooperation, but the recently leaked U.S. cables show U.S. diplomats think Mexico doesn't have a clear strategy in its fight against drug gangs and that infighting among Mexican federal agencies has hindered the crackdown.

More than 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the country's drug gangs shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Calderon said U.S.-Mexico relations were strained after the diplomatic cables were leaked. He said the cables show U.S. diplomats are ignorant about Mexico's security situation and are prone to distort and exaggerate.

"The U.S. ambassadors or those who generated the cables wanted to get their bosses' attention on their own agendas and with the stories they tell they have done a lot of damage because the truth is that they distort" the facts, Calderon said.

When asked to cite some of the cables that he thinks are exaggerated, Calderon mentioned one written by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual that says there is no coordination among Mexican federal agencies assigned to battle drug gangs, including Mexico's army, navy and federal police.

"I don't have to tell the U.S. ambassador how many times I meet with the security Cabinet or what I say," Calderon said. "The truth is that it's none of their business. I do not accept nor tolerate any kind of intervention."

Calderon's interview was published the same day mourners gathered in Brownsville, Texas, to remember Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot to death in northern Mexico on Feb. 15.

Zapata, 32, and fellow ICE agent Victor Avila were attacked when Zetas cartel members in two vehicles forced the agents' sport utility vehicle off a highway in San Luis Potosi state, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul has said. Avila was shot twice in the leg and survived.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder attended Zapata's funeral. Both vowed to continue helping Mexico in its war against drug cartels battling for lucrative trafficking routes into the United States.