EL PASO — The United States does not need to send troops to the border in response to Mexico’s drug war, nor is Mexico in danger of becoming a failed state, law enforcement officials told a congressional panel.
Witnesses testifying before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in El Paso on Monday urged the lawmakers to bolster law enforcement in the region, increase aid to Mexico and push it to reform institutions whose weaknesses have been exposed by their struggle with drug-trafficking gangs.
Experts and members of Congress likewise said Mexico had not become a “failed state” despite corruption and intimidation that have weakened local control in some areas.
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“Cartels are primarily interested in fighting each other,” not in challenging for political control, Howard Campbell, an anthropologist at the University of Texas, El Paso, where the hearing was held, told the senators.
Monday’s hearings, the committee’s first along the border, came amid a flurry of activity in Washington focusing on Mexico’s struggle with drug cartels. The Obama administration last week announced it would send more money and agents to the border, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. will visit soon. President Barack Obama will visit Mexico on April 16.
At Monday’s hearing, committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he had been shocked to see killings and beheadings “just a stone’s throw across the Rio Grande from where we’re sitting this morning.”