Dem Senate candidates talk about Mexico’s drug war
‘I will give my every effort to make sure the violence and illegal activity are stemmed,’ Hector Balderas pledges; Martin Heinrich says the United States must rethink its drug war and focus on ‘policies of rehabilitation’ to reduce illegal drug use here.
Hector Balderas pledges to “stand up for the rule of law” in combating Mexico’s drug war and illegal drug use in the United States; Martin Heinrich says the conventional drug war “is simply not working” and supports a comprehensive approach to solving the problem.
Balderas, a Democratic candidate for New Mexico’s open U.S. Senate seat, said the United States must reduce the number of firearms trafficked into Mexico. He said he will work to increase accountability for U.S. dollars spent in Mexico and to ensure the United States’ partners there are “reliable, trustworthy and transparent.”
Balderas said he supports initiatives that increase international cooperation in addressing the violence in Mexico and will “work to make sure this country remains a leader in standing up for the world’s needy,” including Mexican families that have been “displaced by the horrific violence.”
“I will always stand up for the rule of law,” he said. “The drug wars have to end, as does the United States’ consumption of illegal drugs. The strength of our economy, the safety of our communities and the stability on our border depend on it.”
Heinrich, Balderas’ opponent in the Democratic primary, said Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations “pose a serious threat to the security of the United States and must be addressed in a comprehensive way.”
“It’s clear that the drug war as envisioned and executed in the 1980s is simply not working,” he said.
Heinrich said in addition to supporting Mexico’s efforts to combat cartel operations and imprison cartel members and freeze their assets, the United States must “recognize and deal with the fact that ending the violence will be difficult so long as there is an appetite for cocaine and heroin.”
“Focusing on policies of rehabilitation will help quell the appetite for these illicit drugs,” he said. “When the demand goes down, so too will the violence.”
The Democratic U.S. Senate candidates made their comments in response to a question from NMPolitics.net about Mexico’s drug war. NMPolitics.net gave them no word minimum or limit, telling them to say what they had to say. The only criterion was that they not engage in personal attacks.
Here’s the question NMPolitics.net asked:
- Mexico’s drug war hasn’t gotten as much attention in the United States as conflicts in some other foreign nations, but it’s been a destabilizing force in New Mexico’s neighbor – whose economy is arguably intertwined with that of the United States – and has had a tangible impact in the United States, with cartels operating in many states and some documented instances of spillover violence in Southern New Mexico and elsewhere. That’s on top of the humanitarian crisis the war has created in areas of Mexico including our neighbor, Cuidád Juarez. What policies and action do you support to address the crisis?
Their responses, published in their entirety:
“The drug war in Mexico is truly terrible, harming families directly with violence and indirectly through a crippled economy and loss of trust in law enforcement. We have seen some of this violence spill over into our state, and, undoubtedly, many New Mexicans and their families have been affected by this horrendous state of affairs. In fact, the U.S. Justice Department considers the Mexican drug cartels the greatest organized crime threat to our country.
“As your United States senator, I will give my every effort to make sure the violence and illegal activity are stemmed. First, we need to greatly reduce the number of firearms that smugglers are trafficking into Mexico. Reports have found that the vast majority of weapons apprehended at crime scenes by Mexican law enforcement were brought into the country from the United States. I will push for full enforcement of our existing laws in addition to expanding access to needed resources, such as eTrace, for our diplomatic and law enforcement officials.
“I support initiatives that increase international cooperation in addressing the violence, and I believe we must also address any domestic issues that are helping fuel the illegal activity in Mexico. Importantly, I will seek to increase accountability for funds spent in Mexico. I will work to ensure that our partners are reliable, trustworthy and transparent – not corrupt – so that we can work together to combat the drug wars in an effective manner.
“Additionally, I will work to make sure this country remains a leader in standing up for the world’s needy. Too many Mexican families have been displaced by the horrific violence. We must streamline our immigration system so that true refugees and asylum seekers can begin contributing to our communities and building their new lives in a timely manner.
“As we move forward, we should do with so with our safety at the forefront, but we should also recognize the drug wars’ harmful impact on businesses. Healthy economies depend on healthy communities, and we cannot attract investment if there is concern about our long-term safety.
“I will always stand up for the rule of law. The drug wars have to end, as does the United States’ consumption of illegal drugs. The strength of our economy, the safety of our communities and the stability on our border depend on it.”
“Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations pose a serious threat to the security of the United States and must be addressed in a comprehensive way. It’s clear that the drug war as envisioned and executed in the 1980s is simply not working.
“In addition to reducing cross-border violence with heightened security measures on U.S. soil, there is much more we have to do. We need to support Mexico’s efforts to combat drug cartel operations and convict and incarcerate cartel members and take all steps necessary to freeze their financial assets. We also must recognize and deal with the fact that ending the violence will be difficult so long as there is an appetite for cocaine and heroin. Focusing on policies of rehabilitation will help quell the appetite for these illicit drugs. When the demand goes down, so too will the violence.”