Ken Salazar, United States Ambassador to Mexico, offers a news conference in Mexico City, August 18, 2022. Galo Cañas (Cuartoscuro)
The violence in Mexico calls for urgent solutions. This is the message sent by Ken Salazar, the United States Ambassador to the Latin American country, in the face of the attacks on the population by organized crime groups and the crisis of insecurity that is affecting much of the Mexican territory. “It’s time for results in terms of security,” said the diplomat at a press conference this Thursday. “People have the right to live without fear,” he added. After a meeting with businessmen, the representative of Joe Biden’s government warned that the attacks by criminal organizations “cooling down” “investments” from the private sector, providing the Mexican authorities with more resources and intensified cooperation to fulfill the obligations of bilateral forces have a greater impact on ground combat.
“The investment implications are real,” Salazar said in one of his clearest public interventions on Washington’s concerns about the violent situation in Mexico. The press conference comes just hours after the US embassy updated travel restrictions for its citizens in the Latin American country and included Zacatecas, one of the hot spots of uncertainty, in the maximum risk category. There are already six Mexican states to which the White House directly advises against travel.
“We have interest and resources to assist the state and republic governments,” Salazar said. The ambassador said the solutions to the uncertainty will be achieved through collaboration between the different levels of government, business people, civil society and the support that the United States can offer. The diplomat did not speak of numbers or concrete measures, but he said that there is a willingness to offer technological support, intelligence work and training of security forces. Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government has had limited operations on the ground with US involvement and has championed a sovereignist discourse, affirming that the country is “nobody’s colony.” At the end of last year, both governments signed the “Bicentennial Understanding”, a program to fight crime together, despite temporary friction. Well, as Salazar pointed out between the lines, words must become fact. “Results are required,” he stressed.
“What we are seeing in Mexico requires everyone’s effort,” Salazar urged. Last week, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of Mexico’s two largest cartels, blocked roads and burned businesses and vehicles in the states of Guanajuato and Jalisco in retaliation for an attempt to capture one of its regional commanders. Several similar incidents followed in the border cities of Ciudad Juárez, where 11 people died in one of the most violent days in recent years, and Tijuana, where the attacks imposed a curfew on the population. Washington has been discreet so far, despite issuing security warnings through its diplomatic missions. “We can’t talk about terrorism, but we can talk about real insecurity,” he commented.
Salazar has avoided commenting on the president’s security strategy, known as “hugs not bullets,” which has previously been criticized by members of the US Congress and the opposition. The Ambassador spoke about the killings of religious, in particular the murder of two Jesuit priests a month ago in the north of the country, and the violence against journalists. So far this year, 14 media figures have been murdered in Mexico, the highest annual number during López Obrador’s tenure. The diplomat also said he was closely following the political debate over the decision to permanently militarize the National Guard, one of the Mexican executive branch’s top bets.
“We are always here with respect for the Mexican government,” he said, trying to avoid new tensions with the country’s authorities. “We have a very good relationship,” he added. What is clear is that the spate of violence across the border has not gone unnoticed, pushing the security issue higher on the United States’ list of priorities over Mexico, pushing trade disputes and migratory conflicts to the background. finished. The rest, Salazar said, “can be and will be solved.”
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