|09MEXICO896||2009-03-26 15:37:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Mexico|
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The U.S. plan announced March 24 to
reinforce security at its southwest border was largely
praised by officials in Mexico. The Foreign Secretary said
the move hailed a new period of cooperation between the two
countries, and the leader of the Senate indicated that it
sends a very positive signal. Scattered criticism of the
measures was registered by opposition legislators and some
independent security analysts, who opined that they were
insufficient. In some cases it was noted that they
represented a further "militarization" of the U.S. southern
border; others commented that long term economic growth in
Mexico was the answer to Mexico's crime problem. Most
coverage and commentary noted the U.S. announcement came in
the advent of the visit by Secretary of State Clinton. END
2. (SBU) GOM reaction and comments from members of the
political class have been generally positive --
notwithstanding some partisan sniping from expected quarters.
Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa told reporters that she
welcomed the measures as a "sign of a new era of
cooperation," and lauded the USG's recognition of the
anti-crime efforts being undertaken by President Calderon.
She also noted "the determination of both governments to
stamp out the trafficking of weapons, chemical precursors and
cash from the United States to Mexico." National Action
Party (PAN) Senate President Gustavo Madero echoed her
positive comments, saying the new border plan "sends a
magnificent signal." While not addressing the effort
directly, President Calderon reiterated in a broadcast
interview the night of the announcement that the U.S. needed
to do more to curb arms and money flows across the border
into Mexico, but said he was optimistic about a changed U.S.
attitude toward narcotics trafficking and its impact in both
3. (SBU) Ivan Rodrigo Cortes, Foreign Policy Advisor for PAN
Senator Adriana Gonzalez, described the U.S. announcement on
additional resources to fight organized crime on the U.S.
border to Poloff as "positive" and a "good sign" in
connection with the visit of Secretary Clinton. Cortes hoped
the U.S. would complement its stepped up law enforcement
measures with strengthened efforts to fight the demand for
drugs in the U.S. and attack the flow of drug money, which he
described as at the root of the problem. Mexico for its part
needed to do more to address the social needs of its
population and create greater economic opportunities. The
Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) described the
announcement in generally positive terms, especially in the
area of greater intelligence-sharing. One PRI Deputy we
contacted, however, bristled at what he perceived as a link
drawn by DHS Secretary Napolitano between illegal immigration
and the threat of terrorism.
4. (SBU) Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) Diputado
Cuauhtemoc Sandoval, who is affiliated with the more radical
faction of the party, told Poloff that, while he supported
attempts to stop arms trafficking from the U.S., he believed
it was an error to militarize the border, and reiterated his
opposition to "building walls between the two countries."
Instead, the focus should be on economic development to
increase employment in Mexico. Without an increase in
economic activity, unemployed youth would be drawn into the
drug trade. In the meantime, he emphasized the need for
Mexico to combat corruption, including making the Secretaria
de la Funcion Publica (akin to an Inspector General)
completely autonomous from the executive branch.
5. (SBU) Some worried that an increased law enforcement
presence along the border would be harmful to undocumented
migrants. Cecile Lumer, director of a migrant resource
center in the State of Sonora, asserted that an increase in
agents in Arizona could lead to more human rights abuses.
However, others praised the approach to be more strategic in
combating drugs and violence.
6. (SBU) COMMENT: The generally favorable reaction to the
plan, and absence for the most part of angry rhetoric about
militarizing the border, is an indication that most in Mexico
agree that the situation is grave and desire to see the USG
take stronger measures to combat the illicit arms trade they
believe fuels Mexico's drug war. Commentators also believed
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that Secretary Clinton's visit in the aftermath of the
announcement would result in even deeper cooperation on
security matters between the two countries. END COMMENT.
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