A Texas congressman is leading discussions with the White House to develop a military plan to assist Mexico in the war President Felipe Calderon is waging against the drug cartels.
Yolanda Urrabazo, spokeswoman for Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told WND the discussions involve the possibility of utilizing the U.S. military directly in the effort in addition to providing military assistance.
The Bush administration is considering a multi-year multi-million dollar military assistance package that could include telephone-tapping equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, radar to track drug shipments and training, according to the Associated Press.
Until now, there has been no mention that the assistance might include direct U.S. military involvement in Mexico.
Urrabazo also confirmed to WND that the issue of involving the U.S. military and providing military assistance to Mexico would be on the agenda of the upcoming third summit of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, scheduled Aug. 20-21 in Montebello, Quebec.
Cuellar’s district includes Laredo, Texas, which has been considered ground zero for spillover of the Mexican drug war into the U.S..
On Jan 17, Cuellar filed H.R. 502, entitled the “Prosperous and Secure Neighbor Alliance Act of 2007,” which originally proposed providing military assistance to Mexico to fight the war on the Mexican drug cartels.
H.R. 502 proposed to spend $90 million to provide Mexican law enforcement with sophisticated military technology, training and equipment from the U.S. military to assist Mexico in fighting the drug war.
The other goal of the bill was to spend another $80 million to provide economic development assistance to Mexico under the premise that combating Mexican poverty would also combat Mexican drugs.
H.R. 502 was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The committee press office told WND no hearings on the bill have been scheduled.
The legislation, however, placed Cuellar at the forefront of the effort to involve the U.S. military in Mexico’s war on the drug cartels.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, whose district includes El Paso, has joined Cuellar in urging the Bush administration to allocate up to $850 million over the next five years to help train Mexican law enforcement and military personnel to utilize the advanced military equipment the U.S. is planning to send to Mexico in a drug-related military assistance effort.
Soon after taking office this year, Calderon ordered some 20,000 Mexican troops to get involved domestically in combating the Mexican drug cartels. Current efforts to involve the U.S. military attest to the limited success Calder?n and the Mexican military have had in their war on drugs. Over 3,000 Mexican civilians have been killed in the drug war so far this year.
WND previously reported a document obtained through an Access to Information Act request in Canada shows a secondary focus of the SPP leader’s meeting in Montebello will be to prepare for a continental avian flu or human pandemic and to establish a permanent continental emergency management coordinating body to deal not only with health emergencies but other unspecified emergencies as well.
WND previously reported on National Security Presidential Directive No. 51 and Homeland Security Directive No. 20, which allocate to the office of the president the authority to direct all levels of government in the event the president declares a national emergency.
WND also previously reported that under SPP, the military of the U.S. and Canada are turning USNORTHCOM into a domestic military command structure, with authority extending to Mexico, even though Mexico has not formally joined with the current U.S.-Canadian USNORTHCOM command structure.
WND inquired of USNORTHCOM whether the U.S. military’s involvement in the Mexican drug war, either directly or indirectly through foreign military aid, would involve USNORTHCOM.
USNORTHCOM spokesman Michael Kucharek responded, saying it was premature for USNORTHCOM to discuss any possible involvement with Mexico in any military assistance program which might be forthcoming from the Bush administration.
The White House, the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration did not return WND phone calls asking for comment.
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