Obama Says Mexico’s Drug War Is Not Like Colombia
September 10, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — President Barack Obama said that Mexico’s problem with drug cartels is not comparable to Colombia at the height of its own drug war.
“Mexico is vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago,” Obama told Los Angeles-based Spanish language newspaper La Opinion, according to the New York Times.
Obama’s comment were meant to rebuke Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments at a Council on Foreign Relations event Wednesday, where she said that Mexico’s drug war was beginning to look like Colombia in the 1980s.
“[W]e face an increasing threat from a well-organized network, drug-trafficking threat that is, in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency, in Mexico and in Central America,” Clinton said, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago.”
Mexican officials publicly disputed Clinton’s comments on Thursday.
However, critics of Felipe Calderón’s assault on the drug cartels say that the Mexican government has been too slow to respond to advice.
“They are headed there,” said Colombian Gen. Oscar Naranjo of the comparison between Mexico and Colombia, according to the New York Times.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Hazleton, Pa., cannot enforce its crackdown on undocumented immigrants, dealing another blow to 4-year-old regulations that inspired similar measures around the country.
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared the Mexico drug war to an “insurgency” comparable to the situation in Colombia in the 1980s. This sparked tensions with Mexican officials, who reject the comparison.
- Mexico arrested seven gunmen allegedly involved in the recent execution-style killings of 72 U.S.-bound undocumented migrants in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, officials said Wednesday. The gunmen are believed to belong to the Zetas drug cartel, said Alejandro Poiré, the Mexican government’s national-security spokesman.
- Weeks of heavy rain have brought widespread flooding to large areas of eastern and southern Mexico.
- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was heckled Wednesday night as he addressed an angry crowd that had gathered at a Westlake school for a community meeting in the aftermath of a deadly police shooting.
- The United Nations mission in Haiti says one of its peacekeepers and a civilian woman have been shot by robbers outside a bank in the capital.
- The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will take its first trip to Cuba next month as part of a cultural exchange with the Cuban Institute of Music.
- Puerto Rico is embarking on a test project for converting algae to oil as part of a campaign to lessen the U.S. territory’s dependence on expensive imported oil.
- France has accused former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo of money-laundering and he also faces embezzlement charges in Guatemala.
- The massacre of 18 people in a shoe factory in northern Honduras was likely an attempt by the assailants to eliminate sympathizers of a rival gang even though none of the victims had criminal records, authorities said Wednesday.
- Public transport in El Salvador has been severely disrupted for three days by a strike ordered by criminal street gangs.
- Time online lists Costa Rica’s president, Laura Chinchilla, as one of the top 10 female leaders in the world. Chinchilla is takes tenth place on the list that includes Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina.
- Forty-five Colombian police, soldiers and guerrilla fighters have been killed over the past week as leftist rebels launch attacks meant to show they are still a threat.
- A huge fire caused by a lightning strike sent up a plume of black smoke Thursday and halted operations at a Venezuelan-owned fuel terminal on the Dutch island of Bonaire. No injuries were reported.
- President Hugo Chávez accused his political adversaries Wednesday of sabotaging Venezuela’s electricity grid as part of a campaign to chip away at his popularity before legislative elections in two weeks.
- A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit near the city of Concepción in Chile on Thursday, the same area devastated by an earthquake in February.
- Uruguay’s foreign minister said the country may still toughen its already strict anti-smoking laws, despite the threat of a lawsuit against the country by tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI).
- After a tentative resolution of the pulp-mill dispute between Uruguay and Argentina, tensions may resurface as Uruguayan President José Mujica seeks to expand the port of Montevideo.
- Argentine government ministers announced that they would not submit the country’s economic policies to a review by the International Monetary Fund.
- A whale beached in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina cannot be saved, according to a whale-protection activist.
Image: eeliuth @ Flickr.