News / USA

Obama Visits Mexico Amid Shifting Drug War Strategy

A street vendor smokes a cigarette as police officers walk past, next to the boarded Zocalo Square outside the National Palace, where U.S. President Barack Obama and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto will meet Thursday in Mexico City, May 2, 2013
A street vendor smokes a cigarette as police officers walk past, next to the boarded Zocalo Square outside the National Palace, where U.S. President Barack Obama and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto will meet Thursday in Mexico City, May 2, 2013
Greg Flakus
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Mexico and Costa Rica this week, starting with a flight Thursday to Mexico City, where he will meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto , who took office in December of last year. The two leaders may put most emphasis on trade and bilateral cooperation, but they also are likely to review efforts to defeat drug smuggling organizations based in Mexico.

x
The presidential visit to Mexico provides leaders from both countries an opportunity to emphasize their commitments to trade, economic development and bilateral cooperation. But George Grayson, who teaches at the College of William and Mary and is the author of numerous books about Mexico, said each man has separate priorities.

"The goal is to get the United States to shift its emphasis from security to social and economic matters. The United States is quite anxious to find out the blueprint for Mexico's new policy toward organized crime," Grayson said.

President Nieto took office in December amid a continuing drug war that so far has claimed around 75,000 lives. His predecessor, President Felipe Calderon, shortly after taking office in 2006, used the military to attack organized crime groups, known as cartels in Mexico. He also forged an agreement with the United States that led to close cooperation in the drug war.

But capturing or killing cartel leaders left vacuums that other drug traffickers rushed to fill, often using extreme violence. Grayson said violence remains pervasive.

"The number of deaths per day has increased slightly under Pena Nieto's first hundred days or so in office and, as far as I can tell, the cartels are as strong as ever," Grayson said.

In a recent speech, President Pena Nieto said he will continue the fight for law and order.

He said his goal is to restore peace, while respecting individual rights and promoting economic development.

But his government is scaling back cooperation with the United States and avoiding the large-scale operations carried out by Mr. Calderon. George Grayson said the new Mexican leader is seeking help from France, rather than the United States, to develop an elite national police force and a more sophisticated strategy.

"Use drones, informants, eavesdropping and various technological devices to try to be smarter in fighting the cartels and that kind of knowhow really only comes from the United States," Grayson said.

Grayson said Mexican leaders have always been leery of cooperation with the United States that might involve meddling in Mexico's affairs. But such thinking may be losing ground.

A recent public opinion poll conducted in Mexico by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed 66 percent of respondents with a favorable attitude toward the United States, 10 percentage points higher than it was a year ago. But the same poll shows that around 35 percent of Mexicans would move to the United States if they could.

Grayson said this poses a problem for immigration reform.

"An earlier poll showed that two thirds of Mexicans believe that the border between the two countries is only a surveyor's line.  There is just no doubt that if we were to open the border you would have a cascade of people coming across," Grayson said.

Grayson says passage of a comprehensive immigration bill by the U.S. Congress seems unlikely at this time, but that some pieces might be approved separately.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid