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August 11th, 2009
04:50 PM ET

The role of the Mexican military in the cartel war

Program Note: Fred Burton joins us on AC360º tonight at 10 p.m. ET to discuss recent violence along the Mexican borer. Tune in to hear more.

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/americas/05/20/mexico.narco.arrest/art.cuffs.afp.gi.jpg" caption="Questions about human rights have entered the debate in Mexico over how to deal with violent drug cartels."]

Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton
Stratfor

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Mexico
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