Obama Vows to Stand by Mexico on Drug War

By McCarton Ackerman 05/03/13

During his visit to Mexico, Obama focuses on the economy and downplays recent tensions.

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During his visit to Mexico this week, President Barack Obama and President Enrique Pena Nieto focused on improving economic relations between the two countries and smoothing over drug war differences. The two presidents plan to form a high-level working group to enhance the two countries' economic relationship, and Obama praised Peña Nieto for his "boldness" in pushing economic reforms within Mexico. "We had a wonderful relationship with President [Felipe] Calderón. This is a partnership that will continue," said Obama. "When the United States prospers Mexico does well, and when Mexico prospers the United States does well, and that's the message I want to focus on today." Obama seemed determined to mitigate tension over Nieto's recent moves to reduce US influence in Mexico's drug war, since president Felipe Calderón left office in December. Earlier this week, Peña Nieto's administration announced that US agencies will no longer have widespread, direct access to Mexican law enforcement and military, and all contact must now go through the interior ministry. Obama said that the US is still "keen to help in any we can to combat organized crime," but that "it is obviously up to the Mexican people to determine their security structures and how it engages with other nations including the United States." Peña Nieto has said that his plan is to focus on reducing violence within the country "through an effective attack on organized crime," but insists the strategy is not contradictory. His plans for how his administration will accomplish this have been vague thus far.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.