MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that an “insatiable” appetite in the United States for illegal drugs was to blame for much of the violence plaguing Mexico.
“We are. How could anybody conclude any differently?” Clinton told reporters in response to a question during a flight to Mexico for a two-day visit likely to be dominated by a drug war that killed 6,300 people in Mexico last year.
Clinton’s visit comes as Washington has announced plans to ramp up security on the increasingly dangerous US-Mexico border. Fears are growing that the spiraling violence in Mexico will spill over into the southern United States.
“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Clinton said. “I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”
Clinton will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and discuss a broad range of US-Mexican issues, including immigration and trade. Her visit also includes a stop in the northern business city of Monterrey on Thursday,
Clinton said the Obama administration was making progress on resolving a trucking dispute with Mexico and expected the US Congress to be receptive to its ideas.
She also sought to address a belief among many Mexicans that the United States does not take sufficient responsibility for the $40 billion in illegal narcotics smuggled in from Mexico each year. Some feel the plans by Washington to better patrol its border are long overdue.
US officials on Tuesday announced a $184 million programme to add 360 security agents to border posts and step up searches for drugs, guns and money being smuggled by powerful cartels.
Under former President George W. Bush, the United States committed to a three-year $1.4 billion aid package to buy drug-fighting equipment for Mexico and Central America.