Read the original post at The Hill's Congress Blog.
U.S. Support Crucial to Mexico’s Fight Against Cartels
By Kay Granger
March 30, 2009
Last week, the Obama administration laid out its plan for dealing with the drug-related violence that is gripping Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that more federal agents would be sent to the Southwest border. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico and pledged our cooperation in the struggle against the drug cartels.
Nearly 6,000 people, including more than 500 law-enforcement and military personnel, were killed in the war between rival cartels and the Mexican government, and the bloodshed continues.
At the border, the cash from American drug users filters south along with an arsenal of weapons to arm the cartels. In exchange, drugs and criminals move into the U.S. Last Wednesday, Secretary Clinton correctly noted that our countries have a “co-responsibility” to end the cartels’ influence.
Speaking in Mexico, Secretary Clinton pledged our continued support for efforts like the Merida Initiative, a $1.4 billion program which was instituted by Presidents Bush and Calderon two years ago.
Congress has already funded five Bell helicopters for the Mexican police to help them combat cartels that control wide swaths of remote areas across Mexico. We have accelerated delivery so those helicopters should be in Mexican hands by the end of this year.
The Mexican government also asked for three Black Hawk helicopters to boost air mobility. This week, Secretary Clinton pledged $80 million in funding for the Black Hawks. Now Congress needs to fund them, to further demonstrate our commitment.
I am pleased that the administration understands the vital importance of helping Mexico combat the cartels. Anything less than our full support will undermine Mexico’s stability and our security.