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Obama to help Mexico cut drug violence
San Antonio Express-News ^ | 01/13/2009 | Dudley Althaus

Posted on 01/13/2009 11:00:00 AM PST by SwinneySwitch

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama promised visiting Mexican President Felipe Calderón during a 90-minute summit Monday that the incoming administration would take stronger action to stem the flow of assault-style weapons smuggled from Texas to drug lords in Mexico.

Obama, outlining his plans for U.S.-Mexico relations in detail for the first time, vowed to find ways to collaborate more effectively with Mexico to reduce drug-related violence, including weapons bought in U.S. cities used to cut down Mexican troops and police, said his press secretary, Robert Gibbs.

Obama applauded the steps taken by Calderón to improve security in Mexico, Gibbs said, including that country's widening use of assistance provided under Washington's $1.4 billion Merida Initiative.

Obama told Calderón that he would ask his designated Homeland Security secretary, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, to lead an effort to increase information-sharing between law enforcement officers on both sides of the border.

Calderón launched the war on Mexico's multibillion-dollar drug syndicates after taking office in December 2006, sending about 30,000 soldiers and quasi-military police into lawless areas.

But the crackdown has fueled unprecedented bloodshed as drug gangs swelled their arsenals with weapons bought in Texas and other states by intermediaries. Drug gang violence killed some 5,400 people in Mexico last year, about double the number in 2007, including hundreds of Mexican security forces.

That Obama and his advisers agreed to the meeting with Calderón amid a busy transition schedule reflected Washington's mounting concerns over the violence, said Jorge Castañeda, who served as foreign minister under Mexican President Vicente Fox and is a leading expert on U.S.-Mexico relations.

“They sense that the situation is getting a little out of control,” Castañeda said of American officials. Mexican officials estimated that 90 percent of the guns smuggled into their country come across the U.S. border and have been complaining loudly for years about the unimpeded flow of weapons.

The smuggled arms, purchased by middlemen in gun shops in Texas and other border states, include a number of assault rifles easily converted to fire fully automatic.

A recent Mexican government report estimated weapons-smuggling is a $22 million-a-year business.

Moments after Obama and Calderón met, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., filed a bill designed to reduce gun smuggling into Mexico. The bill would provide $30 million over two years to expand the Justice Department's Project Gunrunner Initiative, which targets gun-smuggling networks.

“The increasing violence in Mexico is now a U.S. national security issue,” Hutchison said.

A similar version of the bill was filed in the House by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.

Obama, who met with the Mexican leader at the Mexican Cultural Institute here, said he believed the strong U.S.-Mexico relationship “can be even stronger” with the changes he discussed.

Calderón, addressing reporters in Spanish, said, “I'm sure this is the start of a very tight and constructive relationship.”

Calderón will meet with President George W. Bush today. Bush and Calderón developed the Merida Initiative in 2007 to provide Mexico with U.S. military equipment, training and other assistance over three years to help combat the drug gang violence.

The Bush administration has started to transfer some of the first $400 million worth of equipment under the initiative, including bulletproof vests, communications equipment, eight helicopters and four maritime patrol aircraft.

Express-News Staff Writer Gary Martin contributed to this report.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: Arizona; US: District of Columbia; US: New Mexico; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 2ndamendment; banglist; drugcartels; drugwarconsequences; guns; immigration; mexico; mexicocorruption; military; obama; obamatransitionfile; rights; selfdetermination; wod
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To: SwinneySwitch

I doubt it. Calderon is quite conservative (a real one) and is fighting against everything from the leftwing students to the unions. He wants to make Mexico a functioning country so that, as he states, Mexicans do not have to go abroad to find work.

Bambi doesn’t care. This gun stuff is just an excuse to crack down on weapons ownership - the US has never supported illegal gun running, and Customs in all the major ports works hard to prevent weapons smuggling. Besides, many of the police killed by the drug thugs in Mexico are hacked up with machetes and guns have nothing to do with it.

Bambi could try harder to stop drug smuggling and prosecute it severely, but that might get in the way of some of his own recreations, according to some things I have read about him here.

21 posted on 01/13/2009 11:43:18 AM PST by livius
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To: AuntB


All countries need a second amendment. That’s why the UN wants to disarm the world (except the criminals, of course).

22 posted on 01/13/2009 11:48:56 AM PST by ChicagahAl (So your bumper sticker says: "Don't blame me, I didn't vote!"? Duh!)
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To: ChicagahAl

“So assault weapons from the US are causing the drug war in Mexico. Gee, I thought it was the Mexican drug lords that were the problem. How silly of me.”

Actually it’s all the money there is to be made selling drugs that is the problem. Without all those billions of dollars there wouldn’t be massive drug cartels buying up weapons and killing each other and anyone who gets in their way. Our government estimates that these Mexican drug trafficking organizations gross about $13.8 billion a year selling drugs to Americans, $8.6 billion from marijuana alone. Cocaine is their second most profitable drug. They gross $3.9 billion from that but they are just the middlemen for cocaine which must purchased and smuggled from South America before they bring it in here. Marijuana is their cash cow. Just taking the money they make from that would be a crushing blow to them.

23 posted on 01/13/2009 12:15:21 PM PST by SmallGovRepub
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To: altsehastiin

I must compliment you on a most astute observation :)

24 posted on 01/13/2009 12:34:06 PM PST by Las Vegas Ron (The tree of liberty is getting mighty dry)
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To: SmallGovRepub

The Surgeon General’s Warning on Marijuana

25 posted on 01/13/2009 12:36:19 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (ObamaNation - beyond your expectations.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
I'm not suggesting people smoke it. For decades now though we've had millions who do and it's become a multibillion dollar business. It is the big cash cow for these Mexican drug trafficking organizations. I wonder why there's no surgeon's general warning on them? They kill more people in a day than have ever died from smoking marijuana.
26 posted on 01/13/2009 12:53:17 PM PST by SmallGovRepub
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To: SwinneySwitch

BS is the only word I can think of.

27 posted on 01/13/2009 12:58:23 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote.)
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To: altsehastiin
"First of all, we need to tone down the hateful rhetoric that has sprung up around the cross-border arms traffic issue. These are not “illegal guns”, they are “undocumented self-defense tools”. The Mexican economy has a very real demand for American guns. American guns are doing jobs Mexican guns won’t do. What Mexico needs is comprehensive gun reform, to bring its laws into balance with its own economic realities."

Dang, that's inspired!!!

You need to copyright those words, my friend.

28 posted on 01/13/2009 1:53:57 PM PST by Redbob (W.W.J.B.D.: "What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
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To: SwinneySwitch
"Calderón, addressing reporters in Spanish, said, “I'm sure this is the start of a very tight and constructive relationship.”

That's what they told Zero: I'll bet the truth is
"How can we get this useless POS to go home?"

29 posted on 01/13/2009 1:57:27 PM PST by Redbob (W.W.J.B.D.: "What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
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To: SwinneySwitch

This is a consequence of free trade, illicit or no. They ship drugs into the US, we ship guns right back. If you want to stop the flow of drugs into Mexico, STOP SENDING YOUR F*****G DRUGS UP HERE!

30 posted on 01/13/2009 2:11:47 PM PST by ReeseBN38416
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To: ReeseBN38416
"If you want to stop the flow of drugs guns into Mexico"

There, corrected.

31 posted on 01/13/2009 2:25:52 PM PST by ReeseBN38416
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To: SmallGovRepub

“They kill more people in a day than have ever died from smoking marijuana.”


32 posted on 01/13/2009 2:30:34 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (ObamaNation - beyond your expectations.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Of course he means by severely restricting firearms to us.

33 posted on 01/13/2009 3:00:44 PM PST by wastedyears (In Canada, Santa says "Ho Ho, eh?")
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To: screaminsunshine
A very good Presto.

34 posted on 01/13/2009 3:02:17 PM PST by wastedyears (In Canada, Santa says "Ho Ho, eh?")
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To: SwinneySwitch
Well, yeah. As far as I know marijuana has never killed anyone, at least by any type of overdose. There have been many thousand of these drug cartel killings every year for the last few years.

I don't mean to get into a discussion where I talk about how wonderful marijuana is, because I don't think it's wonderful. It is a waste of time. It is bad for people. It is not as bad as drugs like heroin and meth, but it's certainly not harmless. I just think that most people who want to smoke it already smoke it even though it is illegal. The laws aren't working in this instance. It's easy to find anywhere in this country and it's already cheaper than beer on a per use basis. The market for it is huge and has been for over 40 years now. We aren't going to make it go away. We're just spinning our wheels trying to keep up the ban, wasting a fortune, and we're enriching criminals like these thugs in Mexico who are making something like $8.6 billion a year selling pot to Americans according to our government's estimates. That's most of the income these organizations make. If we were take most of their money from them these organizations wouldn't be nearly as big and powerful and as much of a threat to Mexico's and our own national security as they are now.

35 posted on 01/13/2009 3:25:45 PM PST by SmallGovRepub
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To: SmallGovRepub

You said, “they kill more people in a day...”

“Acute intoxication with marijuana interferes with many aspects of mental functioning and has serious, acute effects on perception and skilled performance, such as driving and other complex tasks involving judgement or fine motor skills.”

Headed to hell in a handbasket!

36 posted on 01/13/2009 4:08:13 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (ObamaNation - beyond your expectations.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Ahh I see now. So the drug violence in Mexico is America’s fault.

37 posted on 01/13/2009 4:15:41 PM PST by SaveTheChief (Chief Illiniwek (1926-2007))
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To: Redbob

“Estoy seguro que éste es el comienzo de una relación muy apretada y constructiva.”

38 posted on 01/13/2009 4:21:09 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (Mexico - beyond your expectations.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
It doesn't usually impair people as much as alcohol. It's also not nearly as likely to lead to risk taking behavior as alcohol. Again though, I am not trying to encourage anyone to smoke pot. It's an unhealthy vice people should leave alone, and if they do smoke it they shouldn't be smoking it and driving or doing other things you wouldn't do when you are drinking.

The fact is that millions of people in this country smoke marijuana. Most of them grow out of that phase in their lives as they get older, but a couple more million will try it every year. The government has tried to stop people from doing it. They’ve tried to make pot too expensive for people to use and to make it hard to find. They've failed miserably at this. It's been a commonly used substance, relatively cheap and easy to find for more than 40 years. The ban is stopping precious few who want to smoke it from smoking it. It never really has worked, not since the stuff became popular. We can't stop it, and it's really not worth continuing to try to stop it. Marijuana, while it isn't good, isn't such a threat to us that it justifies all the money and effort we're expending trying to keep up the ban, not to mention all the problems we're causing with with the prohibition of marijuana.

Most laws we have banning conduct make sense. Even if we can't stop all theft or violent crimes or sex crimes we still need to keep trying. It's worth it to try, and we probably do actually prevent a lot of crime that way because there is a real possibility people will get caught committing most crimes. That's the way deterrence works. It's directly proportional to the level of risk of getting caught perceived by the person contemplating committing the crime. If there is someone knows that there is a really good chance he'll get caught if he commits whatever crime it is he wants to commit, he's a lot less likely to do it than if he thought there was almost no chance he'd get caught. He's a lot more likely to be deterred. Smoking pot is one of those crimes though where there really is very little risk of getting caught. People know that as long as they are careful it is highly unlikely that they'll ever get caught, and of course they know that if they do get caught with a small amount of pot not much is going to happen to them.

Our laws against simple possession of marijuana really have almost no deterrent effect for most who want to do it. They just do it anyway, legal or not, and they rarely have any problem finding it and really most aren't going to have a problem being able to pay for it either because it is so cheap. Even expensive stuff that costs say $100 for a quarter ounce isn't that expensive because that's going to be enough to get the average pot smoker high dozens of times. He's paying premium prices for his premium pot but he can get a “six pack” equivalent buzz for less than the cost of a six pack of premium beer. The ones who buy the cheap Mexican are in many cases using an amount worth less than a dollar in a single use. We're not deterring many people with our laws and we're not even making this stuff too expensive for people to use or too hard to find. We're accomplishing nothing with this.

Look at cigarettes. That's a legal product, yet we've seen a drastic reduction in use over the years. Marijuana is not as addictive as tobacco. It's not particularly addictive. Some people get in the habit of doing it all the time but most don't find it difficult to quit, and most do end up quitting it. It's not that great.

Personally, I am convinced that most people who want to smoke pot already smoke it. I don't think that if we legalized it we would see a tremendous upsurge in the number of users. According to the government's statistics already more than half of all adults under 60 in this country have already tried it. There are very few out there who don't smoke marijuana just because it is illegal. Most don't smoke it because they don't like it or they don't want to be the idiot stoner at the party glued to the couch staring at the TV with the sound turned off. They don't want to be the thirty year old screw up who still lives with his parents. There are so many good reasons not to smoke pot that wouldn't go away if we legalized it. And if we have some fad where marijuana use spiked, most people would be able to leave it alone when the fad waned because it's not particularly addictive. Even legal we could see big reductions in use just like we've seen with tobacco.

The idea is not to encourage people to smoke pot. In fact it's something we should try to discourage people from doing, but we can do that even it's legal. And even if it's legal it's still going to have a stigma. It will still be associated with loser stoners. It will still smell bad and most people won't want it smoked in their homes. Most girls still aren't going to want scatterbrained pot heads for boyfriends or husbands. Making it legal really isn't going to make it any more okay to be a pot smoker than it is today.

I'm not someone who wants to legalize all drugs. Marijuana is already ubiquitous. It's everywhere. It's cheap. It's bad but isn't that big of a threat to us. I'd be strongly opposed to legalizing drugs like meth, heroin or cocaine though. These drugs are incredibly addictive and the addicts cause us a lot of problems. I see it all the time. I've been working in the criminal justice system for along time now. I've prosecuted and defended in drug cases and just about every other kind of case. I've sat on a drug court committee dealing regularly with addicts’ issues. Marijuana can cause some problems but it's nothing like these other drugs. Really in some ways it's not as bad as alcohol. In some ways it's worse. But most pot smokers aren't a problem for us. They're just not. Most all marijuana crime is crime that exists because marijuana is illegal. If it was legal we'd have some marijuana DWIs and that sort of thing but we already have all that with marijuana even though marijuana is illegal.

I've gone on too long. I hope you understand what I'm saying here. I'm not saying marijuana is good. I'm not trying to encourage people to do it. I just don't really see the point in keeping it illegal anymore. I am convinced we are causing more problems than we are solving trying in vain to keep up this ban.

39 posted on 01/13/2009 9:42:14 PM PST by SmallGovRepub
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