After six sometimes tumultuous years as ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza is speaking out forcefully about U.S. responsibility for Mexico’s widening drug violence, reports the Dallas Morning News. “Mexico would not be the center of cartel activity or be experiencing this level of violence, were the United States not the largest consumer of illicit drugs and the main supplier of weapons to the cartels,” Garza said. “The U.S. and Mexico must fight these criminal organizations together, or we will fail together.”
As he prepares to leave his post Jan. 20, Mexico’s bloody drug violence remains his greatest concern, he said. “The cartels and drug dealers have crossed that line from recklessly endangering civilians in their attacks on law enforcement officials and other criminals to deliberately targeting innocent men, women and children,” he said. Last summer, Congress approved the first installment of the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative, aimed at helping Mexico confront the cartels with training and high-tech assistance. Garza’s Mexican counterparts applaud his work, though the relationship has had tense periods. Mexican diplomats objected to Garza’s vocal criticism about what he believed was Mexico’s slow response to drug violence in earlier years.