MEXICO – On Friday, the United States and Mexico began renegotiating an outdated security agreement to better counter the tide of criminal activity between the two countries, but high-level officials have clearly tried not to focus on ever-growing migration crisis on their common border.
This was a serious oversight, given that thousands of people, mostly from Central America and the Caribbean, crowded on the Mexican side of the border, many living in squalid camps trying to enter the United States.
And this emphasized inertia in both governments to find a broad solution to crisis management, especially after The US Supreme Court in August rejected President Biden’s efforts to let some migrants in by relaxing asylum restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.
Instead, top diplomats and representatives of the Mexican and US immigration, defense, economic and legal services began on Friday discussions on replacing the Merida Initiative, a security agreement signed in 2008.
The agreement transferred millions of dollars in weapons from the United States government to its counterparts in Mexico and Central America as part of a larger plan to combat drug trafficking. But it was not possible to liquidate the criminal organizations or restore security; instead, since the signing of the agreement, Mexico has experienced some of the worst cases of violence he has ever seen…
Immigration was not completely ignored on Friday: both sides said the migration crisis was discussed during talks, including over breakfast with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said at a press conference that cooperation between the United States and Mexico in managing migrants “has never been so strong,” and suggested that both countries bring in other regional leaders to help, focusing in part on broader economic questions. and social problems causing migration.
“We want the Mexican-US relationship to be about more, much more than immigration and security,” said Mr Blinken.
But officials said the new security agreement will focus on how to stop human traffickers and other criminal smugglers, rather than the broader issue of refugees and economic migrants stranded at the border.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a new bilateral agreement – a three-year deal to be completed in January – could provide a solid foundation for creating more jobs in Mexico and Central America while strengthening security cooperation. With a focus on development, Mexican officials believe the new deal could also help stem US migration.
“Mexico’s priority is to reactivate border activities,” said Mr Ebrard, referring to the US decision last year to close land crossings on the border with Mexico to stem the spread of the coronavirus. “They know this is a priority, but that was not the purpose of today’s meeting.”
On Friday in Washington, 15 Democratic Senators and Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, called on Mr. Blinken and Alejandro N. Mallorcas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, to ensure the protection of Haitian migrants – both those trying to enter the United States and those who are deported. Recent images of US Border Patrol officers on horseback driving Haitian migrants to Texas have been met with widespread anger and have drawn additional attention to the broken immigration system.
“Maintaining the integrity of the US borders is of the utmost importance and is not incompatible with the fundamental duty to respect the dignity, humanity and rights of all persons who wish to enter the United States,” the senators wrote in a letter Friday.
On Friday, the Biden administration raised its refugee admission target to 125,000 by 2022. “A robust refugee reception program is the cornerstone of the President’s commitment to rebuilding a safe, orderly and humane migration system,” Blinken said in a statement.
Mexican officials hope the new security agreement will focus less on confronting drug traffickers, and instead look at the causes of addiction, treating it as a medical problem rather than a criminal one, and address the dire economic conditions that lead to incomplete employment. young people join drug treatment organizations.
Merida’s initiative focuses in part on the so-called “thief-in-law” strategy to capture or kill leading drug dealers. But he failed to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico and Central America, and the next generation of traffickers was ready to take the place of those captured or killed.
Mexico’s priority in the negotiations is to find a way to reduce the astronomical level of violence that has gripped the country since the inception of the Merida Initiative. In 2008, there were 12.6 murders for every 100,000 people in Mexico; according to the World Bank, by 2018 this number had grown to 29.
“The Mexicans want to say we are done with this, we have ended what marked the beginning of a very brutal chapter for Mexico,” said Karin Zissis, Editor-in-Chief of the American Society and Council of America.
Analysts believe the violence is the result of two factors: the Merida Initiative’s focus on all-out war against drug gangs, and lax gun laws in the United States, which have resulted in thousands of weapons being trafficked to Mexico and Central America every year.
During the Obama administration, the United States cut some of its security funding over fears of human rights abuses by the Mexican government. These fears continue: last year, the State Department concluded in his annual report on human rights that Mexican security forces and other government officials tortured prisoners, made arbitrary arrests, abused journalists and exploited children for work.
A sign that negotiations are moving forward will be whether FDA agents will be allowed to work in Mexico again, Ms Zissis said. Mexico has denied visas to DEA agents following the arrest last year of former Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda in California on suspicion of aiding drug dealers. The arrest sparked outrage in the Mexican government, which demanded the general’s extradition and then took steps to limit cooperation with the DEA.
On the eve of Friday’s talks, Mr Blinken, Mr Mallorcas and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland met with the President of Mexico.
“There have been other moments in history when we have distanced ourselves, but there are also things that unite us,” said Mr Lopez Obrador at the presidential palace. “We need to understand each other.”