Hillary Clinton Compares Mexican Drug Violence to Colombia's, But No Call for Securing Border

September 8, 2010 - 6:32 PM
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mexico, with its drug violence, is 'looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago when the narco-traffickers controlled certain parts of the country.' But she did not say that securing the U.S.-Mexico border was necessary to curtail the violence.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday but did not mention securing the U.S. border with Mexico. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday likened the violent Mexican drug cartels to an insurgency, similar to the drug wars in Colombia, but she did not say that securing the U.S.-Mexico border was necessary to curtail that violence.

Clinton made her comments at the Council on Foreign Relations during a question and answer session following her speech on foreign policy. Secretary Clinton was asked about the northern hemisphere and remarks she previously made about the the demand for drugs in the U.S. and the alleged flow of guns into Mexico.
 
“It is very much on our minds, and we face an increasing threat from a well-organized network, drug trafficking that in some cases is morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America,” Clinton said. 
 
“And we are working very hard to assist the Mexicans in improving their law enforcement and their intelligence – their capacity to detain and prosecute those who they arrest,” she said.
 
Clinton praised Mexican President Felipe Calderon for his “courage” and said the violence in Mexico resembles the drug wars in Colombia.
 
“So it’s becoming – it’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago where the narco traffickers controlled certain parts of the country,” Clinton said. “In Colombia it got to the point where more than a third of the country – nearly 40 percent of the country at one time or another was controlled by the insurgents – by FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia].”
 
Clinton also talked about the flow of drugs through South and Central America and the drugs being transported to the U.S. border, but she did not mention securing the border between the United States and Mexico.
 
“Those drugs come up through Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, through Central America, southern Mexico to the border and we consume them,” Clinton said. “And those guns, those guns – legal and illegal – keep flooding along with all of that mayhem.”
 
She continued, “It’s not only guns, it’s weapons. It’s arsenals of all kinds that come south. … So I feel a real sense of responsibility to do everything we can, and again we’re working hard to come up with approaches that will actually deliver.”
 
The only reference Clinton made in her prepared remarks was about Mexico’s expanding role on the international stage.
 
“We must also take into account those countries that are growing rapidly and already playing more influential roles in their regions and in global affairs, such as China and India, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, as well as Russia, as it redefines its own role in the world,” Clinton said.
 


A transcript of the question to
Clinton and her answer following her Sept. 8 speech at the Council on foreign Relations is presented below:
 
Audience Member: “You mentioned strategies that are regional. And I’d like you to just say a word more about this hemisphere. You gave a wonderful speech at the border of Mexico where you asserted that we have responsibility for the drugs coming north and the guns going south. Talk a little bit about how we are implementing strategies to turn that around and also to gain friendships that would be helpful throughout Latin America.”
 
Secretary Clinton: “It is very much on our minds, and we face an increasing threat from a well-organized network – drug trafficking that in some cases is morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America. And we are working very hard to assist the Mexicans in improving their law enforcement and their intelligence, their capacity to detain and prosecute those who they arrest.
 
“I give President Calderon very high marks for his courage and his commitment. This is a really tough challenge. And these drug cartels are now showing more and more indices of insurgency. All of a sudden car bombs show up that weren’t there before. So it’s becoming – it’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago where the narco traffickers controlled certain parts of the country – not significant parts. In Colombia it got to the point where more than a third of the country – nearly 40 percent of the country at one time or another was controlled by the insurgents – by FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia].
 
“But it’s going to take a combination of improved institutional capacity and better law enforcement and, where appropriate, military support for that law enforcement; married to political will to be able to prevent this from spreading and to try to beat it back. Mexico has capacity, and they’re using that capacity, and they’ve been very willing to take advice. They’re wanting to do as much of it on their own as possible, but we stand ready to help them. But the small countries in Central America do not have that capacity and the newly inaugurated president of Costa Rica, President [Laura] Chinchilla, said, ‘We need help, and we need a much more vigorous U.S. presence.’
 
Secretary Clinton: “So we are working to try to enhance what we have in Central America. We hear the same thing from our Caribbean friends. So we have an initiative – Caribbean base and security initiative. And our relationship is not all about drugs and violence and crime. But unfortunately that often gets the headline. We’re also working on more economic programs. We’re working on millennium challenge grants. We’re working on a lot of other ways of bolstering economies and governments to improve rule of law.
 
“But this is on the top of everyone’s mind when they come to speak with us. I know that Plan Colombia was controversial. I was just in Colombia, and there were problems and there were mistakes, but it worked. And it was bi-partisan – started in the Clinton administration, continued in the Bush administration, and I think President [Juan] Santos will try to do everything he can to remedy the problems of the past while continuing to make progress against the insurgency. And we need to figure out what are the equivalents for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. And that’s not easy because these – you put your finger on it.
 
“Those drugs come up through Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, through Central America, southern Mexico to the border, and we consume them. And those guns, those guns – legal and illegal – keep flooding along with all of that mayhem. It’s not only guns, it’s weapons. It’s arsenals of all kinds that come south.
 
“So I feel a real sense of responsibility to do everything we can and again we’re working hard to come up with approaches that will actually deliver.”