Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is in Mexico discussing several issues of importance between the US and Mexico. High up on that list is dealing with the out-of-control drug problem in Mexico, particularly as it is affecting the United States as a whole and along the border area.
Mexico has been experiencing a bloodbath in respect of the internecine war with the drug cartels. In some instances, police departments have quit en masse due to the high fatality rate (coupled with extremely low pay which doesn’t come close to be called “danger money). Under a joint co-operation agreement, the US is currently $1.7 billion in Mexico and the rest of Central America to combat the drug smuggling operations of the cartels. In Mexico alone, over 15,000 people have died in drug-related incidents at the hands of the cartels; a situation which Secretary of State Clinton describes as “messy”.
Tainting the visit and relations with Mexico are the so-called Wikileaks disclosures. The embarrassing release of sensitive, private, confidential and secret cables between the US diplomatic presence in Mexico and Washington D.C. is requiring nimble footwork on the part of the US to negate any damage to relations with Mexico. Mexico is the 2nd largest trading partner with the US after Canada, and billions of dollars in trade flows between the two countries.
Underlying the importance of trade is the current dispute between the US and Mexico over cross-border trucking, which we have reported on previously. The US scrapped the old agreement when President Obama took office, however Mexico has retaliated with a punishing tariff regime which has cost US manufacturers billions of dollars in additional costs and loss of business. A new agreement is likely to be agreed upon in exchange for dropping the tariffs, but many truckers are concerned at the prospect of Mexican trucks having free access to the entire Lower 48.
Several drug shipments have been intercepted hidden in trailers coming over from Mexico, usually reported by suspicious American truckers picking up the load from a border transfer facility. Aside from the safety aspects of Mexican trucks on American roads and the threat to US jobs in the recovering trucking industry, the issue of tighter security at the border to combat drug trafficking into the country is yet another thorny issue which Clinton and Washington are going to have to tackle.