Mexico to stress economic agenda with US

Updated: 2013-05-01 09:06

(China Daily/Agencies)

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Mexico is ending the widespread access it gave to security agencies in the United States in the name of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime as the country's new government seeks to change its focus from violence to its emerging economy.

The change was confirmed by Mexico's Foreign Ministry on Monday as the government lays out a broad bilateral agenda in advance of Thursday's visit by US President Barack Obama.

All contact for US law enforcement will now go through "a single door", the federal Interior Ministry, which is the agency that controls security and domestic policy, said Sergio Alcocer, deputy foreign secretary for North American affairs.

It is a dramatic shift from the direct sharing of resources and intelligence between US and Mexican law enforcement under former president Felipe Calderon, who was lauded by the US repeatedly for increasing cooperation between the two countries.

FBI, CIA, Drug Enforcement Agency and border patrol agents had direct access to units of Mexico's Federal Police, army and navy and worked side by side with those units in major offensives against drug cartels, including the US-backed strategy of killing or arresting top kingpins.

Alcocer said high levels of cooperation with the US will continue on security matters, but he said anti-narcotics efforts were lacking proper coordination.

"Before, you had Agency A from the US government that would deal with agency X, Y and Z from Mexico and then Agency B from the US that would also deal with agency X, Y and Z from Mexico. Nobody knew what was going on," he said.

"Far from having a large number of agencies without coordination that are knocking on every door, the Mexican government has a single door called the Secretary of the Interior."

The Department of Homeland Security and other agencies deferred comment on Monday to the State Department, which said it looks forward to "continued close cooperation".

Security and the economy remain the top themes between the two countries. But many analysts have speculated for months about likely changes in the security relationship under new President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party has always favored central political and bureaucratic control.

Wearied by a six-year offensive against organized crime that took an estimated 70,000 lives and saw the disappearance of thousands more, Mexico has sought to change its message and image since Pena Nieto took office in December with an aggressive agenda for reform.