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Over the past week, New Mexico and Arizona have declared states of emergency along their borders with Mexico. The governors of those states blame both American and Mexican authorities for not doing enough to stop border violence, drug trafficking and the flow of illegal immigrants. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on how the governors' actions are being received south of the border.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO reporting:
The saying that `When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold' holds doubly true for Mexico. Not only are the countries' economies inextricably intertwined, but politics on one side of the border can have a harsh effect on the other, which is why Mexican President Vicente Fox found himself again having to defend his policies and plead for US cooperation after the two governors from Arizona and New Mexico declared a state of emergency along their borders with this country.
President VICENTE FOX (Mexico): (Through Translator) My call to the US--whether it be at the state level or the government of President Bush--is that instead of posturing, let us have proposals. Instead of everyone working individually, let us work together. That is the only way we can win.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Fox may have found himself at the mercy of American politics. The two governors are aiming their harshest words at the Bush administration for not doing enough. They're both Democrats facing re-election, though the governors deny that there are any political motives for their actions. And declaring a state of emergency frees up millions of badly needed dollars to help bolster security in those states.
There is no doubt that there are major problems on both sides of the US-Mexico border. The US ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza, closed the American Consulate in Nuevo Laredo this month after increased violence there. He has been an outspoken proponent of Mexico doing more to combat the gangs. Drug gangs have been waging an all-out war in Nuevo Laredo, which is across from Laredo, Texas. At least 110 people have died so far in the recent wave of killings there. In his standard rebuttal to criticism, Fox went on to say that the recent troubles at the border are not only the fault of Mexico.
Pres. FOX: (Through Translator) On that side of the border and this side of the border, there is organized crime. On that side and this side, there is drug consumption. The question is: How do all the drugs that get to the United States get to their consumers? What is done on that side?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Rafael Fernandez de Castro is an analyst who specializes in US-Mexico relations. He says he agrees up to a point with the Mexican president.
Mr. RAFAEL FERNANDEZ de CASTRO (Analyst): We have to do more not only with Mexicans, but also the Americans. And I don't think we have good mechanisms now in the two countries to combat drug traffickers. And getting in the way--there's been some negligence again. The US has been too worried about terrorism, too worried about Iraq; Mexico has been too worried about domestic issues.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Fernandez de Castro says that the border area is of particular concern because it's not only where illegal immigrants and drugs make their way into the US, but it's also the main point of entry for billions of dollars of trade. Nearly 50 percent of those goods travel through the town of Laredo, just across the border from Nuevo Laredo, where criminal and drug gangs have been battling. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Mexico City.