Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue

SECURITY SECRETARY RODRÍGUEZ:  (Via interpreter) I wish to salute the delegation of – the U.S. delegation, led by the Secretary of State of the United States Antony Blinken, as well as my colleagues from the Mexican cabinet and all of the participants of the High-Level Dialogue in Security between Mexico and the United States.

Mexico and the United States are united for peace.  Our people deserve to live in peace and in health.  Our commitment is to make this true.

The first point in our agenda will include the opening statements of the – both governments.  I will say their names according to their turn to intervene.  First, the intervention of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, our dear chancellor, Alicia Bárcena.  Second, the Secretary of State of the United States Antony Blinken.  After that, the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection Rosa Icela Rodríguez.  Fourth, Attorney General Merrick Garland, then the Attorney General of Mexico Alejandro Gertz Manero.  Next, the Secretary of National Security Alejandro Mayorkas, then Presidential Advisor for National Security Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.  And finally, the Secretary of the Interior Luisa María Alcalde Luján.

Let’s get started.

FOREIGN SECRETARY BÁRCENA:  (Via interpreter) Good morning.  It is a pleasure to be here on the third edition of a High-Level Dialogue on Security between Mexico and the United States.  Welcome, Secretary Blinken, Attorney General Garland, Liz, who will be here shortly, Ambassador Ken Salazar.  Of course, our colleagues from the cabinet are here, as well as our dearest Rosa Icela leading these efforts, as well as the Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, Luisa María, Luis Crescencio, Admiral José Rafael Ojeda are all here with us.

Two years ago, the renewed dynamic of collaboration in security between Mexico and the United States led the path to the Bicentennial Agreement, opening up the High-Level Dialogue that took place last Friday, chaired by Secretary Blinken.  I wish to underscore this close and tight relationship regarding migration with the White House.  This meeting confirms our sharing forces against our common evils in respect of sovereignty of both countries.

And I wish to reiterate the commitment of the Mexican Government to fight synthetic drug trafficking.  Its consumption is harming the U.S. population.  Our President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has invited us to cooperate with humanism so we can overcome this civilization challenge.  And we see that United States is doing so from the consumption perspective as well as considering it as a public health affair.

Regarding arms trafficking, we invite you to continue turning up efforts to fight the situation in arms coming to Mexico.

These are historic times.  This is a time to embrace the geopolitical context, because North America is at its best to build a binational and regional community, to foster trade, social inclusion, the economy, and employment, or we continue to allowing the hostility between our adversaries who – remember that Mexico is betting on this partnership and creating a powerful and inclusive environment that is also protective of the environment, because trade between our countries has achieved $855 billion in 2022.  Mexico has become the United States’ top business partner.  On every minute, $3 billion are exchanged.  And last year, $15 billion; $12 billion this year.

Regarding infrastructure, we need to advance the northern border.  Because imagine this: by reducing 10 minutes the crossing of goods and services, $25.9 million as well as 3,000 additional jobs are created in the border states of Mexico.  So we must not only speed up transit of goods and people, but strengthen security – security with projects of modernization in the ports of entry, which on the Mexican side include supply of new technology and by the – both the Secretariat of the Navy and the defense with X-ray and nonintrusive systems.

We are advancing.  This is why tight cooperation is the only path to guarantee security.

Criminal networks transcend national borders, and illicit drug trafficking and arm trafficking include tragic losses for both nations.  So only unity will allow us to resist with effectiveness.

And today we will rekindle the dialogue that started out two years ago in the pursuit of exchanging information, contrasting ideas, in order to fight the inherent risks to the current criminal structures.  And we will do so because I’m certain that both governments share the conviction that in order to fight both violence and criminality, collaboration is the most powerful tool.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thank you very, very much.  Muchas gracias, colleagues.  It’s wonderful to me with all of you.  Secretary Bárcena, Alicia, Secretary Rodríguez, Attorney General Gertz, we are so pleased to be back in Mexico.  And this is now our third Security Dialogue since 2021.

And in everything that we’re doing together, we’re proceeding based on a sense of shared responsibility, cooperation, collaboration, mutual respect.  And I think that has permeated everything that we’ve been doing together.

As the foreign minister said, last Friday in Washington, our governments discussed how we can unleash the region’s incredible economic potential and expand opportunity for more of our people.  We’re here today because so much of what we want to deliver for our people depends on providing a foundation of safety and security.  In 2021, when we launched the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities, we underscored that imperative and that commitment.

This framework reflects our nations’ shared interest and shared responsibility in addressing crime, violence, trafficking.  It also underscores a shared understanding that we have, that while policing and border enforcement are absolutely critical tools, they alone cannot address the complex drivers of our security challenges.  We must also strengthen the rule of law, accountability, respect for human rights, including among security forces.  And critically, we have to expand economic opportunity, especially in underserved communities, so that people have a real choice and are not drawn into extreme actions.

The comprehensive approach that we’re bringing to this set of challenges is reflected in the delegation that you have before you from the United States, including Attorney General Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, and many other senior officials who are with us.  Together we have an opportunity to review where we’ve made progress and identify areas for further collaboration and action.

I think one of the defining challenges that we’re dealing with is it is unquestionable that we have made real progress, and yet the challenges we face are, in many ways, historic in nature, and we have to make sure that our progress not only keeps up with the challenges but actually gets ahead of them.

So we’re going to be focused on that today.  We’ll discuss how we can redouble our efforts to stem the illicit flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico and synthetic drugs from Mexico into the United States.  We’ll look at how we can strengthen prevention and treatment efforts to help those who are struggling with addiction in both of our countries and reduce demand for fentanyl, for methamphetamines, and other illegal substances.  We have to confront the synthetic drug epidemic as a public health crisis – that’s what it is – the central focus of the 100-plus-country coalition, global coalition that we put together earlier this year.

We’ll consider what more we can do to bring justice and bring to justice the criminal networks who profit from violence and suffering on both sides of our border, and we’ll discuss how we can continue to enhance border and port security while facilitating legitimate travel and trade between us.

We are now our largest trading partners, and this is an extraordinary benefit to both of our countries.

But we want to make sure that our border is also safe and secure.  The fact is that neither of us can deliver for our citizens on our own.  We depend on common approaches; we depend on common action; we depend on a sense of shared responsibility.

And that’s ultimately what this dialogue is all about, and that’s why I’m so grateful to our friends, our colleagues, our hosts for welcoming us and for both the substance and the spirit with which we’re proceeding.  Thank you very much.

Secretary Rodriguez.

SECURITY SECRETARY RODRÍGUEZ:  (Via interpreter) The Mexican security cabinet welcomes you to continue with this High-Level Dialogue and a type of relationship that implies respect for both of our nations under productive coordination with outcomes.

The United States has a complicated public health issue due to the consumption of fentanyl, and in certain areas Mexico is facing violence over the dispute between criminal organizations and the (inaudible) drug sales, and they get ahold of that due to money and arms obtained on the other side of the border.

This is a vicious cycle that we’ll only be able to escape from if both nations work hand in hand.  Mexico is cooperating and will continue to do so through the detention and punishment of those who are trafficking with chemical precursors and drugs coming from Asia.

This is a humanitarian affair that also implies universal fraternity.  From the start of the López Obrador administration, we started to fight all the cartels because there are no pacts; there are no covenants.  And we have detained over 78,000 criminals.  Out of them, 4,000 were priority targets.  We have seized over 2,000 laboratories, 900 this year.  We seized 284 tons of cocaine, 7.4 tons of fentanyl, and over 4,400 firearms – high powered firearms.

Regarding the causes of violence, Mexico has reduced the incidents of homicide by 17 percent; kidnapping at an 80 percent reduction; theft 24 percent reduction; and theft of hydrocarbons 94 percent reduction.  But it is imperative to stop the firearm trafficking that end up reaching the hands of the cartel members.  So we do require the decisive assistance of our neighbor and ally.

Today, both nations have the opportunity of creating a historic precedent in the fight against drug and arm trafficking.  Collective efforts are required as well as a binational solution.  Our relationship stands on brotherhood because we’re neighbors, we’re partners, and allies at the same time.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GARLAND:  Thank you, Secretary Roderíguez.  Thank you, Secretary Bárcena, Attorney General Gertz, Secretary Luján.  Thank you for welcoming us to Mexico City.

Today we will be discussing the ways in which we can enhance our work to fight the threats to the safety of our citizens on both sides of the border.  But I want to start by reiterating my thanks for the extradition of Ovidio Guzmán López from Mexico to the United States just three weeks ago.  His extradition is a powerful symbol of what we can accomplish when we work together.  We recognize that Mexican law enforcement and military service members lost their lives in securing his arrest.  We are grateful for their courage and for their sacrifice.

This meeting gives us an opportunity to continue the honor – to continue to honor the memories of all those we have lost in the fight against the cartels and the fentanyl epidemic by strengthening our work together to ensure justice.  I look forward to discussing how we can advance those efforts today.  I am now pleased to now turn over the program to Attorney General Gertz.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GERTZ:  (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, Attorney General, ministers, Mr. Ambassador, members of the delegation – of both delegations, the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico is an autonomous organ of the Mexican state that has worked with you on a daily basis in a way that we had not observed for many years.

We’ve managed to work and in the performance of our duty Mexicans defending the interests of our nation, and you have collaborated with us to assist us in the attack and to solve the issues on which both countries are victims of criminal – a type of criminality that does not recognize borders.  We need to enforce the law, and they’re devoted to infringing the law.  So this is not an easy task.

In the execution of our duty, as we will discuss this morning, we’ve seen extraordinary things happen.  We know that this issue is as ancient as the bilateral relation between the U.S. and Mexico.  We also know that we are amidst an extremely complex situation, where the interests of both production and consumption need to be balanced out so they – so we can enforce the law.  So it is key that amid our efforts we set example of respect to our mutual sovereignty and also with efficiency to address our mutual interests.

This is an ever standing task.  The ambassador works hard with strong commitment on a daily basis, doing his work and also committed to the bilateral relationship.  And through the Attorney General – through Attorney General Garland, we have great support.

We’re also working with the Secretary of the Interior to continue to supporting the migration issue.  And the Secretary of State has a legal obligation to represent the country’s interest and continues to work.  We will keep up with the dialogue, and you’ll know that we have also preserved the dignity, the respectfulness, and sovereignty of our countries.  So in that same level, we are extremely respectful of you all.

So this is a great example of what can be done, and we – what we will continue to perform.  And do I expect today’s meetings render the expected outcomes.  The Mexican cabinet has specific concrete proposals, and we believe that they will make a fundamental change.

Let us not forget that everything we’re doing is an unprecedented effort.  Nonetheless, the size of the issue must also render results of the corresponding magnitude.  I commend you all for being here.  I celebrate your presence.  And I hope we continue to work under this fraternity terms and dignity that our citizens deserve.  Thank you very much.

HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY MAYORKAS:  It’s an honor to be here in Mexico again with my colleagues in the Biden-Harris administration and with our close partners and friends in the Government of Mexico.  There is no more fundamental responsibility of any government than to safeguard its homeland and its people.  We all share that principle, and we all work together to fulfill that responsibility.

In an historically challenging moment for our region, the United States recognizes that open, effective partnerships based on mutual respect are critical to our individual and shared security.  That is true of the 21 countries across the hemisphere who are party to the Los Angeles Declaration, and that is especially true of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico.  All of us here together are making our countries and our region safer and more secure.

Together we are taking concrete steps to better address the threats we face along our shared border, enhancing the security of our ports of entry and expediting the movement of legal trade and travel.  Together we are dismantling the criminal networks that prey on vulnerable migrants.  We are dismantling the criminal organizations that smuggle fentanyl from south to north and traffic weapons from north to south.  And together, we are disrupting the supply chains these cartels rely upon.

We must continue to build on the progress we have made.  Today’s High-Level Security Dialogue is the first to include migration as part of its agenda, an essential component of our national and regional security.  The United States is committed to continuing to work closely with the Government of Mexico as we implement the model that has proven effective, a model that pairs the historic expansion of safe, orderly, and lawful pathways for migrants to come directly to the United States or elsewhere to obtain humanitarian relief outside the smuggler’s grip, with strict consequences for those who do not use those lawful means to enter our country.

Further progress will require continued alignment between our two countries on shared priorities and on our commitment to implement them.  It is our hope, and we are confident, that the discussions we engage in today as sovereign nations and as historic partners will lay the foundation for such continued progress on behalf of our people.  Thank you.

SECURITY SECRETARY RODRÍGUEZ:  (Via interpreter) I believe that it’s your turn.

INTERIOR SECRETARY ALCALDE:  (Via interpreter.)  Welcome back to our country.  Welcome to National Palace.  The president welcomed to you all, already.  Welcome, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General, Secretary of Security, Elizabeth.  Greetings.  It’s great to have you here and to keep up with the work.

We know well that Mexico and the United States are brothers with the longstanding political, diplomatic, cultural history, and we share a border of over 3,000 kilometers, through which thousands of people, millions of dollars, cross on a daily basis.

We have an intense relationship just without that, but considering the USMCA and the strategies performed throughout these two years.  We are confronted with new migration and security-related challenges, specifically speaking of fentanyl, not only regarding drug trafficking at large, but consumption as well.  And there’s clarity, too, because both presidents, President López Obrador and President Biden, clearly understand that one of the most efficacious strategies involves addressing the causes, the causes that lead to migration and the causes that lead to violence, to consumption, and drug production.

This is why it is such a pleasure for us to continue with this collaboration, with the respect between both nations.  We are pretty much aware and we know that both countries are stronger when they’re united.  So on our side, you can count on the different instances and secretariats’ collaboration because we continue to work on a daily basis.

Finally, Presidential Advisor on National Security Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

ADVISOR SHERWOOD-RANDALL:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Secretary Bárcena and thank you, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, my colleagues, our cabinet members, cabinet members, members of the military in Mexico.  I’m so honored to be here today.  Thank you for hosting us, as you always do, so graciously.

We’ve had many, many meetings together over the course of the last nine months in this year of 2023 on many shared topics, which are on the agenda today.  But this is the first time I have participated in the High-Level Security Dialogue, and I’m here in part to demonstrate that, in addition to the counterparts who have participated in this for each of the years of our administration, that the White House also recognizes the critical importance of the Bicentennial Framework and the goals that it sets for our bilateral cooperation – protecting our people, preventing transnational crime, and pursuing criminal networks.

Over the last three years, our two governments have made tremendous progress under the framework and through the High-Level Security Dialogue to improve the health, safety, and security of our peoples.  But there is much more that we can and must do.  And today we acknowledge this by formally adding the management of the historic migration flows in our hemisphere to our shared agenda.

We have President Biden’s full support as we tackle these challenges together and over the course of the coming year, and I look forward very much to working with each of you to advance our shared goals.  Thank you.

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