Friday, March 19, 2010

Espinosa, Clinton Vow to Bolster U.S.-Mexico Fight Against Crime

Espinosa, Clinton Vow to Bolster U.S.-Mexico Fight Against Crime

MEXICO CITY – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the wake of the killings last weekend of three people with links to the U.S. Consulate in the border city of Juarez.

The United States and Mexico will work together to solve the killings, Espinosa said in a press conference Wednesday at the end of the 9th Spain-Mexico Binational Commission meeting.

The Mexican government has expressed its “commitment to doing everything possible to clear up these crimes and bring those responsible to justice,” Espinosa said.

The foreign relations secretary visited the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday and expressed the Mexican government’s support for bolstering security at the diplomatic facility.

Last weekend, two Americans, one of whom worked at the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, and a Mexican married to another consular employee were killed in separate attacks in the border city.

U.S. consular official Lesley Ann Enriquez and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, a detention officer at the El Paso County Jail, were killed Saturday by gunmen who fired on their vehicle on a busy street in Juarez.

The couple’s baby, riding in the backseat, was not harmed.

Mexican citizen Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of another consular employee, died in a similar attack minutes later.

Enriquez and Redelfs were U.S. citizens who lived in El Paso. They drove to Juarez for the birthday party of another consulate employee, an event also attended by Salcido and his wife.

The foreign relations secretary also responded to statements by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the military operation in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s most violent city.

Napolitano, according to reports in the Mexican press, said the army’s presence in Juarez has not reduced the violence in the border city.

The situation in Ciudad Juarez is the product of “many years of lack of action on the part of the Mexican government,” Espinosa said, adding that President Felipe Calderon’s administration “is doing everything it can to stem the climate of violence.”

Calderon made his third trip in just over a month on Tuesday to Juarez, where he delivered an address and discussed ways to deal with the wave of violence in the border city.

Ciudad Juarez has become a battleground in the war between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels for control of smuggling routes into the United States, with both criminal organizations employing street gangs to carry out attacks.

The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when more than 800 people were killed, then it more than doubled to 1,623 in 2008, according to press tallies, with the number of killings soaring to 2,635 last year.

Ciudad Juarez, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, was the most violent city in the world in 2009, registering a higher murder rate than San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Caracas, and Guatemala, two Mexican non-governmental organizations said earlier this month.

The border city first gained notoriety in the early 1990s when young women began to disappear in the area.

More than 500 women have been killed in Ciudad Juarez since 1993, according to the National Human Rights Commission, with the majority of the cases going unsolved. EFE

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