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Drug War, H1N1 Virus Top Mexico Summit Agenda

From drug violence to H1N1 flu, President Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tackled a long list of issues at a summit Monday.

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    And still to come on the NewsHour tonight: health care and seniors; the discount culture; and transportation priorities.

    That follows the summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, where U.S.-Mexican cooperation and tension topped the agenda. Jeffrey Brown has that story.


    From border violence and drugs to trade wars and trucking to the swine flu pandemic, the list of pressing issues was long at today's summit meeting between President Obama, making his second trip to Mexico, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    Their post-summit news conference quickly turned to the escalating border violence between drug cartels and the Mexican government.

    NewsHour's special correspondent Jeffrey Kaye reported on that situation from Mexico earlier this summer.


    The Mexican city of Juarez just across the boarder from El Paso, Texas, looks like it's under military occupation. Police and soldiers patrol streets and man roadblocks. The show of force which began in March is designed to intimidate violent drug cartels who are fighting each other and the police.

    A woman killed recently as she drove a car filled with passengers was one of three murder victims on the same day. Last year in Ciudad Juarez, there were 1,600 killings. That's more than double the murder rate in the most violent city in the U.S.

    Police have determined that thousands of weapons they've seized were smuggled into Mexico from the United States. Since Mexico has strict gun control laws, its government demanded the U.S. reduce the flow of firearms across the border.

    The Obama administration has pledged millions of dollars to trace and interdict weapons.


    Under the so-called Merida Initiative, the U.S. has promised $1.4 billion in aid to help Mexico fight the drug violence.

    Today in Guadalajara, President Obama talked up that cooperation and praised Calderon's efforts.


    We have already seen resources transferred, equipment transferred in order to help President Calderon in what is a very courageous effort to deal with a drug cartel — set of drug cartels that are not only resulting in extraordinary violence to the people of Mexico, but are also undermining institutions like the police and the judiciary system that, unless stopped, will be very damaging to the country.


    Mr. Obama also joined President Calderon in defending the Mexican government's crackdown amid criticisms over alleged human rights violations.


    I have great confidence in President Calderon's administration applying the law enforcement techniques that are necessary to curb the power of the cartels, but doing so in a way that's consistent with human rights.

    The biggest by far violators of human rights right now are the cartels themselves that are kidnapping people and extorting people and encouraging corruption in these regions. That's what needs to be stopped; that's what President Calderon is committed to doing; and that's what I'm committed to helping President Calderon accomplish as long as he is president of Mexico.

    FELIPE CALDERON, president, Mexico (through translator): There have been a very scrupulous effort to try to protect human rights in all cases. And anyone who says the contrary certainly would have to prove this, any case, just one case where the proper authority has not acted in a correct way that the competent authorities have not punished anyone who has abused their authority, whether they be police officers, whether they be soldiers, or anyone else.

    We have a clear commitment with human rights, we have met this commitment, and we will continue to do so.

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