The United States expressed concern Thursday about the insecure situation in Mexico following recent attacks that killed a dozen people and destroyed businesses, warning that the violence is “deterring” investment in the country.
“Security is of more fundamental importance than the other difficult issues, including the T-MEC,” U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said at a press conference, referring to the trade agreement that also involves Canada.
Salazar was referring specifically to a dispute between the U.S. and Canada over Mexico’s energy policy under the T-MEC.
“These things can and will be resolved, but if we don’t have a result on security, everything is still shaky,” the diplomat continued.
Following last week’s attacks in several states, including the border states of Chihuahua and Baja California, U.S. consulates in Guadalajara (central Mexico) and Tijuana (northern Mexico) issued security warnings and urged their staff to seek safety.
Salazar expressed the view that the climate of insecurity is choking off investment in Mexico not only from the United States but also from other countries.
The ambassador’s remarks allude to last week’s criminal unrest, which included a series of attacks on civilians and businesses and left a dozen dead, including a 12-year-old boy and a broadcaster shot during a live broadcast in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.
The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called these acts “criminal propaganda,” responding to the blows that the security forces have dealt to the mafias and that have reduced their capacity.
Violence also occurred in Jalisco (west), Guanajuato (center), and Michoacán (west).
Salazar dismissed the attacks as “terrorism” but called them acts of “real insecurity” with “very serious consequences for the people affected.”
“What happened this weekend should not happen (…), people have the right to live without fear,” he said.
Following the attacks, the Mexican government stepped up security in Ciudad Juarez and Baja California (where Tijuana is located) with hundreds of military personnel.
On Monday, a State Department spokesman in Washington said they are working “very closely” with Mexican authorities to assess the situation in Baja California, a popular tourist destination for U.S. citizens.
Mexico has been in a spiral of violence linked to organized crime since 2006 that has claimed some 340,000 lives.
With information from AFP