Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the American demand for illegal drugs "insatiable" during her visit to Mexico on Wednesday. A combination between the US appetite for drug consumption and the failure to stop weapons smuggling into Mexico is at the heart of the current cartel wars erupting through out Mexico and along the US / Mexico boarder towns.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said that the nearly three-decade old "war" on drugs "has not worked," "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians," "I feel very strongly we have co-responsibility,".
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been battling rising cartel violence as the remaining cartels fight for power and control of the trade. He has called on the Obama administration to step up involvement of the US and do more to stop the back flow of guns and bulk cash from the United States into Mexico.
Under the Merida Initiative which allocates $1.4 Billion in aid to combat the Mexican drug cartels, Congress has currently approved $700 million in assistance to build more effective security forces. Lawmakers have however cut back the first installment of aid from $450 million to $300 million.
Some members of Congress and Mexican officials are complaining that the promised money, training and equipment to fight the cartels is taking too long to arrive.
During a Capitol Hill hearing on Wednesday, the Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano was criticized by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday morning for rearranging resources in order to fund the crackdown on gun running from the US across the border into Mexico that is fueling the violence between cartels and the Mexican government.
The Committee told the Secretary that the situation warrants new congressional appropriations, in spite of deficit spending.
South Carolina Republican Senator and member of the Senate homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said "Quite frankly, it's not appropriate to say we have budget problems when it comes to this," as he pressed for the Secretary to request more governmental funding for the undertaking. "There is a lot of conflict about the budget, but this is where Americans would cheer us for spending money wisely," he said.
Committee chairman and Connecticut independent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he would introduce an amendment to the budget to increase funding for the government to go after gunrunners. The administration's new plan is "a significant first step forward. But I don't think it is enough."