Interview With Denise Maerker of Televisa
Secretary of State
QUESTION: So about Mexico, you said recently it’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, where the narcotraffickers controlled certain parts of the country. These drug cartels are actually more and more indices of insurgency. What do you understand by narcoinsurgency?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that every situation is different, and certainly Mexico is not Colombia, Mexico is not the United States. We have to analyze every situation. But both Mexico and the United States have a series of transnational threats that we have to confront. The drug traffickers are a transnational threat and they cross borders. They have, unfortunately, set up business in your country, in my country. So we have to see it not just as something that is local but is something that has unfortunate tentacles that go outside, which means we have to work together to try to eliminate it.
QUESTION: But the word insurgency – I mean, do you have evidence of an alliance taking place between organized crime cartels and subversive groups seeking to overthrow the Mexican Government, for instance?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. And that was not my intent with that word. That was not at all what I intended. What I was intending to say, and appreciate the chance to clarify that, is that the techniques that are used now by drug traffickers, unfortunately, resemble other threats around the world that we see: the barbaric, horrific amount of violence, the communication capabilities that they now have, how heavily armed they are. They are armed like the military now, unfortunately. So it’s not in a sort of geostrategic sense but in sort of tactical – some similarities.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you consider that the violence in our country is something that threatens national security in your country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I consider it more of a problem that we have some responsibility for that’s affecting our neighbor. And therefore, we have to take not only the responsibility, but also offer assistance so that the people of Mexico can have the security that Mexicans deserve. And this is not a national security issue in a traditional sense. It’s a border security issue, and for that reason it’s something we take very seriously. It’s an organized crime issue, and we just had this huge roundup of organized crime figures in the United States. And we’re working closely with our counterparts so that we can try to prevent these drug traffickers and organized criminals from hurting Mexicans or Americans.
QUESTION: But what are your plans to face this threat? I mean, we know you’re helping our country to restore peace, or trying to restore peace, in Ciudad Juarez. Exactly what are you doing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what we’re doing is providing assistance to law enforcement, equipment, building capacity. But we’re also working with the Mexican Government on the reform of the judiciary that President Calderon has begun on building a stronger corrections system so that when criminals are caught they can be detained, and having a prosecution system that uses all the modern techniques in order to put these people behind bars. We believe that you can’t just have a law enforcement response. You have to have a broader, more comprehensive approach, and that is what President Calderon is taking.
QUESTION: Okay. In several occasion, you have recognized that the partial explanation to the violence in Mexico can be found in the elevated drug consumption and the tolerance towards arms selling in your country. The consumption has not diminished. On the contrary, I hear it’s, like, reached a historical maximum and arms selling continue. And it’s very unlikely that it would – this will change. So why would – should we continue giving this battle? And when I say we, it’s like our country, Mexico.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are making some progress. There has been some decrease in drug use. But more than that, there’s been greater cooperation across the border. We are stopping more people and finding not only drugs, but guns, money for money laundering. We have much better law enforcement cooperation across the border. I don't think either of us could do this without working with the other. And I don't think either of us wants to let a drug kingpin and his gang behead people or addict people on either side of the border.
QUESTION: In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don't think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don't think that – you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people. Mexico didn’t have much of a drug problem before the last 10 years, and you want to keep it that way. So you don’t want to give any excuse to the drug traffickers to be able legally to addict young people.
QUESTION: But in the United States there are more and more tolerance for marijuana, right?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So this doesn’t seem right. Like the tolerance in the United States, and here we are killing each other for this product.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the tolerance is in a very limited arena. It is for medical --
QUESTION: Medical use.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Medical use. And there are lots of regulations on it. So it’s not accurate to say, as I’ve heard some say, well, we’re legalizing marijuana. We are not. We are – the biggest – we have more people incarcerated, unfortunately, than any country in the world, and most of them are there because of some drug-related offense. So we know that this is not an easy struggle. We’ve been at it ourselves. But we also believe that you have to keep the pressure on the criminals; otherwise, they will just expand their operations, and then you do have to worry about more corruption, more problems with institutions.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.