U.S., Mexico Sign New Pact to Fight Drugs! 

U.S., Mexico Sign New Pact to Fight Drugs! 
Posted by FoM on February 15, 1999 at 14:32:04 PT

President Clinton and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo signed a new agreement Monday to measure progress by both countries in fighting drug smuggling. During a summit on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the two neighbors also adopted pacts to help Mexico buy U.S. products and combat pollution along their common border. 
 Agreements signed at the Clinton-Zedillo summit: Benchmarks in 16 areas to measure U.S. and Mexican performance in the drug war, including asset forfeiture and demand reduction. The markers are designed to answer criticism from both sides of the border that U.S. certification of drug-fighting allies is ill-defined, one-sided and political. A $4 billion line of credit over two years from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to provide loans and loan guarantees to Mexican businesses that buy American goods and services. In fiscal 1998, the bank made available $1.3 billion in credit. A civil aviation pact to liberalize flights between the United States and Mexico, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to airlines. $1.2 million in U.S. funds to the Mexican Nature Conservation Fund, to prevent a repeat of last year's forest fires that sent smog into Texas. U.S. training and technical assistance to Mexico's new federal police force, meant to be a fresh start for the country's long-corrupt law enforcement system. More consultations on cross-border law enforcement. Information-sharing on suspected diversions of legal chemicals to the processing of narcotics. The Agency for International Development will finance collaboration among four U.S. and six Mexican border states to fight Mexico's 11,000 new cases annually of tuberculosis, which is carried into the United States by migrants.  Under the drug accord, reached two weeks before a U.S. decision on whether Mexico is cooperating in the drug war, the United States and Mexico adopted 16 benchmarks for measuring progress in areas such as reduction in demand for illegal drugs, drug production and distribution and money laundering. "The (benchmarks) provide objective markers that the United States and Mexico can use to measure the success of our cooperative efforts to reduce the supply and demand of illegal drugs," the White House said in a statement, released as Clinton and Zedillo met outside the provincial capital of Merida. "They also serve to identify those areas in which both nations can intensify their counter-drug efforts." Clinton is expected to renew by March 1 an annual "certification" of Mexico as an ally in the drug war, despite setbacks over the past year in stemming the drug flow and opposition from several members of Congress. Related law enforcement agreements signed Monday would provide U.S. training to Mexican police and track chemicals used to make illegal drugs. Congress may oppose Mexico's 'certification'The U.S. president arrived in Mexico on Sunday night with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 23-hour visit. On Monday, Clinton and Zedillo met at the secluded Hacienda Temozon, which means "Whirlwind Estate." Their quick summit comes only two weeks before Clinton must, in the face of unfulfilled extradition promises and dropping drug seizures, render a formal evaluation of Mexico's cooperation in shutting down the narcotics trade. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who joined Clinton in Mexico from her weekend stop at the Paris peace talks on Kosovo, has not made her recommendations on the drug certifications, required under a 1986 law. But White House officials made plain that he is likely to certify Mexico as an ally in fighting narcotics, as it has been for 12 years. This would come despite Mexico's disappointing record in the past year on a variety of drug fronts: Seizures of heroin, cocaine and marijuana are down. Corruption in law enforcement is rampant. Most major drug-cartel leaders remain at large. Mexico has not kept promises to extradite arrested drug kingpins for trial in the United States. But U.S. officials insist cooperation from the Zedillo government has improved, and say the new performance standards will allow U.S. and Mexican officials to better judge progress.   "Neither the United States nor Mexico has won the war on drugs," National Security Adviser Samuel Berger told CNN on Monday. "But I think we are better off fighting that war together, than going our separate ways." A failing grade would mean economic sanctions on top of diplomatic insult to Mexico, which sees the U.S. certification process as political. To that end, Clinton was in Mexico partly to gird Zedillo for a hard sell on Capitol Hill, where Congress can override his certification of Mexico. "If history is any guide, we certainly anticipate a very difficult time" in Congress, said deputy White House chief of staff Maria Echaveste. Mexico blames much of its drug problem on the United States, because Americans are the world's biggest buyers of illicit narcotics. About two-thirds of the cocaine sold in the United States comes through Mexico. 
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