MEXICO CITY (CN) — High-ranking U.S. and Mexican officials met for the first time in years this month to discuss a fresh, “holistic” approach to dealing with the public security issues that affect both countries.
Announced in a joint statement issued by the White House and the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the proposed “United States-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities” aims to tackle problems both old and new.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said in his remarks on the High-Level Security Dialogue (HLSD) he conducted with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other high-ranking U.S. officials that the two countries are officially “leaving the Mérida Initiative behind” and looking forward to new solutions.
Signed in 2008, the Mérida Initiative aimed to combat drug trafficking and violence in Mexico under a philosophy of “shared responsibility” for the problems. But while the Mérida Initiative made great strides in collaboration between the two countries — especially with respect to information sharing — the fact remains that the problems of drug addiction in the United States and drug violence in Mexico have only grown worse since its inception.
The Congressional Research Service notes the initiative’s “kingpin strategy” of taking out cartel leaders only served to fracture criminal organizations, resulting in the Hydra effect of lower-level drug capos vying for the power vacuums at the top.
The Bicentennial Framework’s holistic approach pledges to tackle the roots of these systemic problems and how they have evolved in recent years, such as the emergence of the deadly drug fentanyl, which is produced from chemicals that have legitimate industrial uses. Thus the framework’s focus includes tightening controls of these “precursor chemicals.”
Mexico has already collaborated with U.S. authorities to disrupt criminal organizations’ supply chains at the source. The federal Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) froze the accounts of nearly 50 chemical distributors in early October, revealing months of work on investigating the sourcing of precursor chemicals. The company at the center of attention in the operation, Grupo Pochteca, began as a paper and cardboard producer in the late 1980s but has since diversified to produce and market the raw materials to make everything from industrial lubricants to foodstuffs to personal hygiene products.
The holistic approach also aims to study and deal with the root causes of crime and drug addiction both in the United States and Mexico, the latter now struggling with its own addiction crisis, particularly with methamphetamine. Both countries pledge to “address addictions based on science and with a public health focus … [and] to create better education, social programs, and alternatives for young people.”
Both also expressed the intention to pursue a memorandum of understanding that will aim to prevent drug consumption and provide evidence-based treatment, among other preemptive measures. Ebrard said that the nuts and bolts of the deal should be worked out by the end of January.
Source: ABC Noticias