Our two countries have a long history as neighbors, and we are deeply integrated on many critical security priorities. Violence in Mexico affects U.S. border towns, growing amounts of fentanyl and precursor chemicals from China are transiting Mexico to the United States, and opium poppy cultivation in Mexico continues to surge, contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.
At the same time, U.S. demand for drugs and illegal arms trafficking flowing south fuels the insecurity plaguing Mexico. Transnational criminal organizations also viciously compete for territory to supply surging U.S. demand, escalating violence in local communities and diversifying their activities to include money laundering, fuel theft, illegal mining and human trafficking.
Last year, there were twenty-nine thousand murders in Mexico , including twelve journalists, making Mexico the world’s most violent country for journalists outside a war zone. At least 130 politicians in Mexico were also killed in the run-up to its elections in July. While Mexico has taken significant steps to address this spiraling security situation, corruption and impunity continue to challenge efforts.
I have spent a large part of my life advancing U.S. security interests, and I firmly believe the U.S.-Mexico relationship is unique in its importance and impact to the American people. This relationship is equally significant to Mexicans. Both countries have a vested interest in strengthening our security efforts to combat criminal groups and their illicit activities that poison our populations.