Calderon makes urgent call for regional effort against crime
Mexican President Felipe Calderon made an urgent call Tuesday for a concerted regional front against organized crime, dpa reported.
At the 12th summit of the Tuxtla Mechanism of Dialogue and Agreement in the Colombian Caribbean city of Cartagena de Indias, Calderon stressed the transnational nature of crime.
"If development is our greatest desire, our greatest hurdle now is precisely this transnational organized crime that knows no border and that at once poisons our young people and devastates the population with extortion, kidnapping and with homicidal violence," Calderon said at the summit's opening ceremony.
More than 28,300 people have been killed in Mexico in violence related to organized crime since Calderon took office in December 2006.
"It is not possible for us to face (organized crime) effectively in an isolated fashion from our national borders," he said.
The Tuxtla Mechanism emerged in the 1990s from the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) development plan, which brings together Mexico, Central America and Colombia.
Presidents Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Porfirio Lobo of Honduras and Alvaro Colom of Guatemala, as well as host Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, were taking part in the summit alongside Calderon.
As he opened the summit, Santos called for a review of the global fight against drug traffic, if California passes a referendum to legalize marijuana in next week's election.
The international community has a "shared responsibility" in the fight against drugs and initiatives like California's are "confusing," he said.
"It is confusing for our people to see that, while we lose lives and invest resources in the fight against drug trafficking, in consumer countries initiatives are promoted such as the California referendum to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana," Santos said.
"I wonder if the world's eighth-largest economy (if California were an independent country), which so successfully promotes its state-of-the-art technology, its films and its good wines, will allow the import of marijuana into its attractive market," Santos said.
He called for a consistent approach to the drug trade.
"If all we are doing is sending our compatriots to prison while in other latitudes the trade is legalized, then we should ask ourselves, is it not time to review the global strategy to face drugs?" Santos asked.