Cooperation, Certification,and Corruption -- US, Mexico, and Drug War Relations 2/13/98

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- Marc Brandl for DRCNet

On February 6th, the U.S. and Mexico unveiled a plan for closer cooperation in battling the drug war. The 39-page document comes amidst allegations of further drug related corruption in the highest levels of the Mexican government, and an upcoming battle in Congress over continued certification of Mexico as a drug war ally. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey said the report was, "a conceptual outline and guide to action." In the report, the two governments plan to cooperate on three important issues: fighting organized crime involved in the drug trade, stopping corruption of government and law enforcement officials and reducing prohibition-related violence along the border.

A Washington Times article printed a day before the plan was released to the public claimed a CIA report ties former Mexican governor and newly appointed interior minister to international drug traffickers. The article states, "Francisco Labastida Ochoa has 'long-standing ties' to drug dealers since serving as governor of Sinaloa for six years." Not only is this the newest in a long line of scandals involving Mexican officials causing concern on the Mexican side, it also makes a Congressional fight over whether to re-certify Mexico as a drug war ally even more likely. According to Coletta Youngers, a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), in an interview with This Week Online, "Mexican certification faces a pretty tough battle in Congress. There is no read yet on [House Speaker] Gingrich's position." Last year Gingrich's support was key in getting many House republicans to vote against certification. President Clinton must decide each year which countries will be "certified" as allies in the Drug War, but Congress has authorization to overturn certification. Certification had never been a problem for Mexico until last year when several prominent politicians such as California Senator Diane Feinstein attacked Mexico's record of fighting drugs and questioned its level of motivation to win the drug war. Mexico's position as the key transit nation for international drugs entering the US puts it in the untenable position of being a held responsible for a problem that even the US has had little success in managing.

The release of the joint-strategy report and the leak of the alleged CIA report are considered the opening salvos in the political battle over certification. The report was released nine months after promised but less than two months before the re-certification decision. Youngers said, "The two events are certainly linked. It's not any coincidence the report was released when it was."

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Issue #29, 2/13/98 ONDCP 1999 Drug Strategy to be Released This Saturday: Another "ten year plan" but a lot more of the same | 69th Anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre | Canadian, American Officials Meet to Discuss Smuggling: But which way are the drugs flowing? | Judge Moves Dennis Peron's Trial Back to Oakland: But Peron says he'll not be convicted in any venue | Penn State Professor Continues Marijuana Civil Disobedience for Fourth Consecutive Week | Cooperation, Certification,and Corruption -- US, Mexico, and Drug War Relations | Olympic Snowboarder Still High on Nagano Gold: Rebagliati gets to keep his medal | Allegations of Corruption Leveled Against Australian Anti-Drug Police Unit | Editorial: Give us just one good reason why the Olympic Committee is testing athletes for marijuana

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