At Mexico-U.S. Security Talks, Migration Question Is Largely Avoided

By Lara Jakes and Maria Abi-Habib

"The Mexicans want to say we ended the [Mérida Initiative] that kicked off a very violent chapter for Mexico," said AS/COA's Carin Zissis to The New York Times.

The United States and Mexico began overhauling an aged security agreement on Friday to better confront the flow of criminal activity between the two nations, but officials at the high-level talks conspicuously sought to avoid focusing on the ever-growing migrant crisis on their shared border.

It was a striking omission, given the thousands of people, largely from Central America and the Caribbean, crowded on the Mexican side of the border, many in squalid camps, seeking entry to the United States...

Mexico’s priority at the talks is to find a way to reduce the astronomical levels of violence that have swept the country since the inception of the Mérida Initiative. In 2008, 12.6 murders were recorded for every 100,000 people in Mexico; by 2018 that number had soared to 29, according to World Bank data.

“The Mexicans want to say we ended this thing, we ended this thing that kicked off a very violent chapter for Mexico,” said Carin Zissis, the editor in chief of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas...

A sign of how the negotiations are progressing, Ms. Zissis said, will be whether agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration are allowed to work in Mexico again. Mexico has withheld visas for D.E.A. agents since the arrest last year of Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda in California, a former defense minister, on suspicion of aiding drug traffickers. The arrest set off outrage within the Mexican government, which demanded the general’s extradition and then moved to curb cooperation with the D.E.A...

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