HomeNewsBriefSecurity Tops Agenda for Mexico's New US Ambassador
BRIEF

Security Tops Agenda for Mexico's New US Ambassador

DRUG POLICY / 11 JAN 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The incoming Mexican ambassador to Washington called for renewed debate on drug prohibition and on gun control within the United States, and said there would be changes in security cooperation between the two countries.

Eduardo Medina Mora, whose appointment was ratified by the Mexican Congress on January 10, set out the main topics on his agenda for the media, with issues related to security and organized crime topping the list, as Animal Politico reported.

Echoing the rhetoric of former President Felipe Calderon, who left office in December, Medina hinted at support for drug legalization, saying that an international debate on drug laws was "not just welcome but essential," and calling for a "change in paradigm in the regulatory treatment of drugs."

The new ambassador also followed the previous administration in calling for the United States to review its gun control laws and tighten the lax regulation and enforcement that allows Mexico’s criminal groups to obtain thousands of US-sold weapons every year. Referring to the recent school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, he said President Barack Obama had “a window of opportunity” to enact reforms.   

Medina raised the issue of bilateral cooperation on security issues, saying there would be "changes in approach" but "continuity in efforts in this shared responsibility." He downplayed the role of US aid to Mexico, calling the funds provided through security agreement the Merida initiative "a very small proportion" of security spending in Mexico.  

Medina has previously served as public security secretary under former President Vicente Fox, attorney general under Calderon, and ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was also involved in the creation of the Merida initiative. During his time as attorney general, the office was dogged by accusations of corruption.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although Medina raised several issues that will not sit comfortably with US policymakers, he also showed sensitivity to their political considerations.

His discussion of the need for drug law reform was tempered by an emphasis on multilateral agreements, essentially ruling out the possibility of Mexico acting against US wishes. This follows the position taken by other Latin American politicians, including Guatemalan President Otto Perez, who are in favor of reopening the issue of a reformed drug policy.

Medina’s comments on gun control were also cautious, as he expressed Mexico’s respect for the second amendment right to bear arms, and stressed his awareness that it is an issue of "internal politics."

Overall, the new ambassador's comments suggest that while Enrique Peña Nieto's new government may be keen to move forward on these critical bilateral security issues, it will do so cautiously and will not risk endangering relations with the United States.

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