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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A border congressman says Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has failed to deliver on his campaign promise to improve security for the country’s citizens.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, spoke about violence in Mexico during a House debate Thursday on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Gonzalez has long argued that negotiations on the trade deal should include a commitment from Mexico to do more to fight organized crime.

Here are Gonzalez’s remarks on the House floor:

“Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and also to sound the alarm for an issue that should concern us all – violence.

“To put things in perspective, since 2006, Mexico has lost as many people to homicide as the United States has lost in every war since Korea. Just in the last three years the number of homicides exceeds the number of soldiers lost in Korea and Vietnam combined. All while we act as if nothing is happening in our own back yard.

“Negotiators worked tirelessly to get us here to today’s vote but they have failed to acknowledge the single greatest threat to North American trade and prosperity – violence.

“I rise today to say that we have missed an opportunity and I cannot be silent and will not let this go. Mexican President Lopez Obrador ran on a promise to achieve peace and end the war on drugs and create a new civilian national guard to tackle organized crime by fighting poverty. While I have no doubt of his good intentions, has has failed miserably. Mexico’s crime rate continues to rise. The endemic mass murders, disappearances, extortions, assaults in Mexico show no signs of slowing.

“Madam Speaker, by accepting this as the status quo and staying silent we risk standing in the way of our own economic success. And I yield back.”

Earlier this month, Gonzalez and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, wrote to Pelosi to express their concerns about insecurity in Mexico.

“We can no longer afford to separate public security from trade as this faulty distinction will perpetuate severe economic and security implications. We believe these negotiations (on USMCA) provide an opportunity to secure a pledge from Mexico that it will take concrete steps to break down this remaining barrier to secure American trade,” they wrote.

In the letter, the two South Texas congressmen note that 2018 was the deadliest in Mexico’s history. They cited a report buy Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection that said 33,341 homicides were committed in 2018, a 15 parent increase from 2017.

The letter also quoted statistics from the Transported Asset Protection Associated: more than 4,000 incidents of cargo theft were reported in the second quarter of 2018, a 27 percent increase from 2017 and a 107 percent increase on the same period in 2016.

The letter ended: “The future of U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation and our ability to reap the benefits of the USMCA hinge on Mexico taking bolds steps to break the cycle of insecurity.”

The third member of South Texas’ congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar says he agrees with Gonzalez that Mexico needs to do more to improve security. Cuellar also wants the U.S. to provide more funding to Mexico. However, the Laredo Democrat said he did not agree with incorporating security issues in a trade deal like USMCA.

Speaking to reporters during a conference call last week, Cuellar said:

“NAFTA 2.0 is a trade agreement not a security agreement. I agree with my counterpart, Vicente. We need to engage our friends to the south. They need to do more to secure their country. In appropriations, I am trying to add more money for Mexico. We can help them as much as they want us to help them. But on this agreement it is a pure trade agreement, not a security agreement. But, I do agree with my colleague, Vicente Gonzalez that we need to do more for sure.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Congressman Vicente Gonzalez speaking on the House floor on Thursday, December 19, 2019.

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