U.S. President Barack Obama denies that increasing drug-related violence in Mexico is comparable to Colombia’s fight against drug traffickers in the 1980s, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton controversially claimed.
In an interview Thursday with Latino L.A.-based daily La Opinion, Obama said “Mexico is a vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago.”
The U.S. president’s statements contradicted Clinton, who commented Wednesday that Mexico’s “drug cartels are showing more and more indices of insurgencies. It’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, when the narcotraffickers controlled certain parts of the country.”
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said Wednesday that Clinton’s comment, which sparked controversy in Mexico, should not be “misinterpreted,” after the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon rejected the U.S. leader’s comparison of Mexico with Colombia.
State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley denied that Obama’s and Clinton’s comments were contradictory.
“These are two different countries and different circumstances. The secretary completely agrees,” Crowley told the Washington Post.
“What she was saying is that, first, criminal organizations are challenging authority in Mexico as we saw in Colombia. The growing brutality is beginning to resemble what Colombia experienced. Colombia turned its situation around through decisive action by a democratic government, supported by the United States and the international community. We are seeing the same sustained action by the Mexican government.”
There is increasing evidence of links between Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers.
Mexican narco-trafficker Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” claimed to have links to Colombian criminals when he was arrested in Mexico last week.
Mexican authorities released a tape on which La Barbie says “I have investments in Colombia in my field of work,” which he then admits is “drugs.”
Following the capo’s arrest, Colombian authorities arrested eleven people accused of shipping drugs from the FARC to La Barbie’s Beltran Leyva cartel. Among those detained was Julio Cesar Piña Soberanis, alias “Julio,” a Mexican believed to be La Barbie’s representative in Colombia.
In Colombia 20 years ago infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was at the height of his bloody reign as the world’s most wanted narco-trafficker, waging war against the Colombian state with a bombing campaign and assassination of top politicians. Escobar was shot and killed in Medellin in December 1993 after a years-long game of cat and mouse with Colombian and U.S. authorities.