Mexico’s new president seeks fresh start on drug war with Obama

President Barack Obama and Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto will meet to discuss the drug war—which has killed nearly ten times as many people as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined—among other issues, at the White House Tuesday.With the drug war at a stalemate, Peña Nieto has promised to concentrate on drug-related violence instead of going head-to-head with drug cartels.“The voice of the voters is clear, we don’t want more of this war,” said Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, on The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd. Castañeda added that, while Peña Nieto wants to maintain a strong partnership with the U.S. in battling drugs, the structure of the fight needs to change .“No more bloodshed, no more war, no more enormous efforts being made to interrupt drug shipments to the United States which fuel the markets in the U.S. by a way which is becoming increasingly legal,” Castañeda said.The initial strategy the two counties used to combat the war was based on the Merida Initiative—a $1.6 billion aid program designed to help Mexico disrupt drug cartels and improve law enforcement. However, the tactic has had mixed results and, since 2006, at least 57,000 people have been killed in the drug wars. The Merida Initiative expired in 2010 and Peña Nieto has indicated he would seek an extension.Castañeda emphasized that drug trafficking shouldn’t be placed at the top of the agenda anymore, saying that Obama and Peña Nieto will focus on Mexico’s domestic policy as well as the drug wars.“There are other very important issues whether those are economic ties, etc. or comprehensive immigration reform, which now perhaps becomes more likely or less unlikely than before the election,” he said.Castañeda also said that Nieto won’t ask for more economic aid since Mexico has become a top trade partner and the money used to provide aid was just a “symbol of greater U.S./Mexican cooperation.”

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