United States, Mexico, and Canada Guarantee Common Front

By Dialogo
April 04, 2012

At a summit in Washington on 2 April 2012, the U.S. and Mexican presidents and the Canadian prime minister guaranteed a common front in order to combat organized crime, which is taking a bloody toll on Mexico and the countries of Central America.

The drug-trafficking violence that has left over 50,000 dead in Mexico in the five years of Felipe Calderón’s administration and has made Central America the world’s most violent region was an important part of the leaders’ meeting at the White House.

“Today each of us reaffirmed our commitment to meeting this challenge together – because that’s the only way that we’re going to succeed,” U.S. President Barack Obama said at a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

At the summit, the three leaders agreed to establish a mechanism for dialogue with the Central American countries, to discuss the havoc caused by organized crime throughout the region.

This meeting was especially important because it served to align positions in advance of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena de Indias set to take place on April 14 and 15, which the three leaders will attend.

“These cartels and traffickers pose an extraordinary threat to our Central American neighbors. So we’re teaming up,” said the U.S. president, whose country has taken anti-drug cooperation with Mexico and the Central American region to unprecedented levels.

Calderón, at his last North American summit before leaving office, insisted on the need for greater monitoring of arms trafficking to Mexico, as he has done on his previous visits to the United States.

“I am indeed absolutely convinced that if arms trafficking to Mexico is not curbed, what is more, if mechanisms to ban sales of assault weapons are not reestablished (…), not only will it be impossible for the violence to end in Mexico, but in the future, it could even threaten” the United States, he warned.

The 2004 expiration of the ban on sales of assault weapons in the United States “coincides almost exactly with the start of the worst phase of violence and homicides that Mexico has seen in a long time,” Calderón indicated.

Around 142,000 weapons have been seized under Calderón’s administration, 70 percent of them assault rifles, and of those, 80 percent came from the United States, according to Calderón, who in May 2010 personally asked the U.S. Congress to reinstate the legislation against the sale of assault weapons.

Nevertheless, Calderón acknowledged the effort that Obama has “personally” made to impose greater administrative controls on weapons sales, such as the requirement for border gun dealers to report multiple rifle sales, despite the fierce opposition to measures of that kind in the United States.

Obama welcomed the desire of Mexico and Canada to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which seeks to create the world’s largest free-trade zone on both shores of the Pacific.

Other topics the leaders discussed at the summit included progress made in trade and economic, deregulation and harmonization of standards to facilitate trilateral trade, which reached 1 billion dollars last year.

Three months before the July 1 Mexican presidential elections, Obama asserted that he is ready to maintain the excellent level of the bilateral relationship with whomever is elected.

“The underlying common interests that we have economically, socially, culturally, (…) is so important that it transcends” electoral events, said Obama, who will wage his own battle in November, when he will seek reelection.

In one of my country's newspaper, in Guatemala, I read on the subject. I think it is appropriate that these three countries look a little more towards the South, specifically the Central American case. Before, I made a brief comment in Agora Magazine saying the Merida Plan should look a little more towards the southern border of Mexico and not just to the North, where it reaches the United States. Mexico has an economy 50 times bigger than Guatemala and shares 968 kilometres of border with the Central American country, while with the United States shares 3,000 kilometers, hence the strategic importance of the Mexican and Guatemalan borders.