The following statement is issued by the Governments of the United States and Mexico.
As part of the broader strategic partnership between the United States and Mexico the Merida Initiative High-Level Consultative Group held its third meeting today, under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa, to continue to deepen and make more effective our coordinated efforts against the common challenges posed by transnational criminal organizations and to strengthen our institutional and legal frameworks.
The criminality and violence associated with the actions of transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten the security and prosperity of both our nations, and therefore multi-faceted, cooperative efforts to combat and reduce that violence are a priority for both the U.S. and Mexican governments. Our strong partnership under the Merida Initiative, based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust and respect for each country’s jurisdiction, is a fundamental component of our bilateral efforts. Our continued success will depend on ongoing, close cooperation.
To that end, the High-Level Consultative Group, comprised of cabinet secretaries from across each government engaged on these issues, focused its meeting on the four areas of cooperation identified by President Barack Obama and President Felipe Calderon in August 2009 in Guadalajara, Mexico and reaffirmed during President Calderon’s State Visit to Washington in May 2010:
I. Disrupting the capacity of criminal organizations that act in both countries by weakening their operational, logistical and financial capabilities.
II. Supporting efforts to strengthen public institutions responsible for combating organized crime, including the promotion of the full observance of rule of law, human rights, and active civil society participation.
III. Developing a secure and competitive border for the 21st century, that assures efficient and secure flows of legitimate commerce and travel while ensuring citizen safety and disrupting the illicit flow of drugs, weapons, bulk cash and other goods.
IV. Building strong and resilient communities in both countries by supporting efforts to address the root causes of crime and violence, especially concerning youth, promote the culture of lawfulness, reducing illicit drug use, encouraging a broader understanding of the links between drug use and crime and violence, and offering constructive, legal alternatives for the development of young people.
This approach builds upon the 2007 decision by the Governments of the United States and Mexico to enhance and expand bilateral cooperation to confront the multi-faceted threats posed by transnational organized crime and to launch the Merida Initiative.
The third meeting of the High-Level Consultative Group is committed to increased focus on institutional strengthening and capacity building and will take the following actions during the coming year:
Pillar I – Disrupting Organized Criminal Groups
Pillar II – Institutionalizing the Rule of Law
Pillar III – Building a 21st Century Border
Pillar IV – Building Strong and Resilient Communities
The High-Level Consultative Group reviewed the Merida Initiative and associated cooperation in order to ensure its full implementation and to continue to build upon its record of success. Since the inception of the Merida Initiative, working together, the United States and Mexico have:
Under the Merida Initiative, we have put into place an effective bilateral implementation structure that is now accelerating the implementation of our activities. Over $400 million in equipment, training, and capacity-building programs have been delivered, and the Government of the United States is committed to deliver an additional $500 million by the end of 2011. Both Governments welcome this commitment and will work together to ensure its full implementation.
The United States and Mexico share a common future. In reaffirming our partnership, the High-Level Consultative Group ratified their shared commitment to achieving long-term solutions to challenges to the rule of law posed by transnational organized crime. We will meet these challenges through enhanced engagement and shared responsibility.
The HLG previously met in November 2008 (Washington, DC) and March 2010 (Mexico City). In attendance at today’s HLG for the United States: Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of National Drug Policy of the United States Gil Kerlikowske, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, Acting Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the Treasury David Cohen, and Ambassador of the United States to Mexico Carlos Pascual.
In attendance at the HLG for Mexico: Secretary Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Secretary of Governance José Francisco Blake Mora, Secretary of National Defense General Guillermo Galván Galván, Secretary of the Navy Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna, Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibañez, Director of the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) Guillermo Valdés Castellanos, National Security Spokesman Alejandro Poire Romero, Chief of the Tax Administration System (SAT) Alfredo Gutierrez Ortíz Mena, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Secretariat of Finance José Alberto Balbuena, Commissioner of the National Council against Addictions (CONADIC) Carlos Tena Tamayo, and Ambassador of Mexico to the United States Arturo Sarukhan.