Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're invading Mexico?

With what army, Blackwater? Via GottaLaff at Cliff Schecter, McClatchy: (my bold)

For Washington, the stakes in Calderon’s anti-drug push go beyond law and order issues.

“If Calderon loses this battle,” says Noriega, “then there will be no wall high enough to keep out Mexicans who are displaced by violence and by the security threat that undermines Mexico’s growth.”

Bush and Calderon hinted at an aid package when they met in Merida, Mexico, on March 14. Bush praised Calderon for his tough stand against organized crime and drugs and recognized that as a consumer nation, “the United States has a responsibility in the fight against drugs.”

“Mexico’s obviously a sovereign nation,” Bush said, “and if (Calderon) so chooses, like he has, will lay out an agenda where the United States can be a constructive partner.”

People familiar with the talks say Mexico drew up a list that included equipment, training and technology, including Black Hawk helicopters, which are difficult to come by given the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but are considered the transport of choice for security forces.

The price tag on the more ambitious aspiration is $1.2 billion, but a more modest proposal has emerged in recent weeks in the area of $700 million, said one person familiar with the talks.

It is not clear how the administration will request the funds from Congress, since the foreign operations spending bill for the coming year already has been approved by the House.


The aid package under consideration inevitably will spark comparisons to the similar program under way with Colombia since 2000. Under that program, the U.S. government has poured more than $5 billion to combat armed groups as well as to eradicate coca and heroin crops. Colombian authorities praise the program for helping reduce violence there, though the country continues to produce vast quantities of cocaine.

Mexican officials bristle at any comparisons with the Colombian operation, which they view as too ambitious and an infringement on Colombian sovereignty, given the heavy scrutiny by the U.S. Congress and direct involvement of U.S. personnel and equipment.

“Any type of a package called Plan Mexico,” said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, a Mexico specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “would be dead on arrival.”

The Mexico package more likely will be cast as an effort to improve Mexico’s judicial system and its security forces. “The U.S. can play a role in bolstering that reform process,” he said.

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