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Mexico to Reshape US Involvement in Its Drug War

By Victoria Kim 04/30/13

Mexico's government wants to dramatically change the two nations' partnership against the cartels.

Will Barack back off?

The involvement of the US in Mexico's drug war is facing a dramatic shift, according to the Mexican government. Mexico will no longer provide US agencies, like the FBI, CIA, DEA, and Border Patrol, with widespread, direct access to its own law enforcement and military. Instead, to simplify a relationship that has been "lacking proper coordination," according to deputy foreign secretary for North American affairs Sergio Alcocer, all contact for US law enforcement will now go through "a single door"—the Federal Interior Ministry, which runs Mexico's security and domestic policy. "Before, you had Agency A from the US government that would deal with agency X, Y and Z from Mexico and then Agency B from the US that would also deal with agency X, Y and Z from Mexico. Nobody knew what was going on," says Alcocer. The statement, delivered in anticipation of President Barack Obama's visit to Mexico City on Thursday, reflects President Enrique Pena Nieto's desire to shift focus from drug-war violence to Mexico's economy, which is expected to surpass Brazil as the strongest in Latin America. Obama says he will wait to comment on the statement until he has "heard directly from them what exactly they are trying to accomplish."

The Pena Nieto administration's new approach is to concentrate on increasing economic cooperation with the US, and on providing jobs and social programs for those who might otherwise see opportunities in the lucrative drug trade. Pena Nieto emphasizes that this has potential benefits for the US economy and public safety. The new policy differs dramatically from previous president Felipe Calderon's aggressive offensive against the drug cartels, which involved intensive cooperation with the US. 

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