REYNOSA, Mexico – Two of the four U.S. congressmen to attend the presidential inauguration in Mexico City on Saturday say they are encouraged by Enrique Peña Nieto’s planned strategy against drug cartels.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, Texas, will be the next chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Texas, is a good friend of Peña Nieto. The two were part of a four-member delegation from the U.S. House to attend Peña Nieto’s swearing-in.

In a statement issued after the inauguration, McCaul and Cuellar expressed “encouragement about Mexico’s developing strategy of using special operations forces and intelligence to defeat the drug cartels.” This followed discussions with Peña Nieto and the new Interior Minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who will oversee Mexico’s security.

The congressmen said “it appears Mexico will emphasize the need for special operation forces, coordinated intelligence and shared technologies in its war against the cartels,” which have killed nearly 60,000 people in Mexico since 2006.

“I am encouraged that President Peña Nieto is aggressively and strategically taking the fight to the cartels,” McCaul said, in the statement. “The Southwest border is our last line of defense against the cartels and terrorist elements that have proliferated in Latin America and it must be secured on both sides.”

Cuellar said he and McCaul delivered a “unified, bipartisan message” to the new administration that the United States is committed to continuing to assist Mexico’s war against the cartels but that Mexico must do its part to secure the border.

“I have confidence that Mexico will continue working with the United States collaboratively on issues that affect both countries, including border security,” Cuellar said, in the statement. “From what I have gathered in listening to Mexico’s new President Enrique Peña Nieto, he is willing to continue to work to defeat the drug cartels, and at the same time, is looking for ways to help grow the economies of both countries.”

Critics of Peña Nieto say he was the preferred candidate of the various drug cartels that have brought carnage to Mexico over the last decade. Some critics believe Peña Nieto will not be as determined to eradicate the drug cartels as President Felipe Calderón was and will instead try to come to an accommodation with them.

In addition to McCaul and Cuellar, the U.S. House delegation at the inauguration included U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, Texas, and Jared Polis, D-Colorado.

Cuellar and McCaul said the U.S. House delegation also met with Mexico’s Treasury Secretary, Luis Videgaray Caso. They said Videgaray outlined a plan for “fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and no debt.” The House delegation also met with leaders of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce to discuss trade and the relative economies of the two countries.

Congressman-elect Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, says he is looking forward to working with the new Mexican government.
Congressman-elect Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, says he is looking forward to working with the new Mexican government.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep.-elect Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, says he stands ready to work with the new administration in Mexico.  Like Cuellar, Vela represents a border community.

“I want to congratulate Mexico’s new President, Enrique Peña Nieto on his inauguration as the country’s 57th president. As I begin my own tenure in the United States Congress, I look forward to working with Mexico’s new government to make both sides of our border economically prosperous and safe for citizens of both Mexico and the United States,” Vela said.