What will 2023 Bicentennial Understanding actions be?

Information about the meeting one year after the Bicentennial Understanding was signed to stop the trafficking of arms, drugs, and people, as well as what will be done in 2023.

What will 2023 Bicentennial Understanding actions be?
The bicentennial understanding represents an alliance between the political leaders of the United States and Mexico. Image: UNAM

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Marcelo Ebrard, released details of the meeting one year after the signing of the Bicentennial Understanding to curb arms, drugs, and human trafficking and the actions to be taken in 2023.

Ebrard indicated that he met with diplomats from the United States, headed by Antony Blinken, and also informed about the progress of the Bicentennial Understanding, as well as the actions to be undertaken jointly for the following year.

The Chancellor said that the highlight of the meeting with Blinken was the work to trace the route of 45 thousand of weapons linked to homicides and accelerate extraditions, in addition to 866 complaints for tax crimes linked to organized crime and 65 thousand 149 arrests. Ebrard assured that Mexico currently secures more drugs than the United States and that actions will continue.

These are the actions for the Bicentennial Agreement

Ebrard announced that the next actions are to combat arms trafficking, in addition to preventing children and youth from consuming fentanyl, and will invest to expand forensic capacity in the area of disappearances.

Strengthen evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

Increase the number of municipalities in Mexico that employ crime prevention methods to target at-risk youth and interrupt cycles of violence.

Reduce impunity for homicides and high-impact crimes through the use of data, analysis, prioritization, and task forces focused on investigating specific crimes.

Dismantle human smuggling organizations through coordinated efforts such as Joint Task Force Alpha and with mechanisms that strengthen information sharing.

Commit to implementing an action plan to curb synthetic drug use and trafficking, specifically fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the exchange of information and the expansion of capacity in the regulatory and import processes of chemical products.

Implement the recommendations of the shared study to address the smuggling of people and goods across the border.

Increase access to eTrace and share best practices for prosecuting weapons-related cases.

Prepare a collaborative gun trafficking report to identify routes, organizations, and tactics used to traffic guns.

Enforce the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on firearms trafficking.

Increase the number of investigators to support the prosecution of the full range of criminal activity identified in the joint statement.

Develop a work plan to advance infrastructure security and cybersecurity collaboration between the National Guard and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

More about 2023 Bicentennial Understanding actions

The Bicentennial Understanding is the first step towards greater cooperation between Mexico and the United States, which has not been seen for years. With the Biden administration, a change of paradigm can be seen that implies an opportunity for our nation to strengthen collaboration with the neighboring country to the north in security; in other words, it is a step forward that speaks of good political relations.

This agreement is the starting point from which clear objectives must be established; its success will depend on keeping communication channels open between both parties. In the U.S.-Mexico relationship, the main issues are security, migration, and trade, which are linked to a certain extent. If the relationship goes well on one issue, it can help strengthen the others.

The U.S. has been concerned in the last five years about the power of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation, which has introduced into our territory, through shipments coming from China, fentanyl that, together with methamphetamines, poisons the youth of the United States. Every year between 60,000 and 70,000 people die from this cause.

In Mexico, there has been an expansion of homicides, from eight per 100,000 inhabitants in 2007, to 23 per 100,000 inhabitants today. The strategy of decapitating criminal organizations has failed and has led to the territorial expansion of cartels and the creation of others. From three large organizations of this type in 2007, today there are 10 and more than 200 subgroups or small criminal groups in the states.

The Mexican government calculates that violence is a product of the free sale of arms in the US; there are more than nine thousand stores in Texas alone and this favors the cartels. However, it is also necessary to take into account the deficiencies of the customs control systems, which allow weapons to pass through. In addition, criminal organizations use human trafficking as a highly profitable activity.

The Bicentennial Understanding means an alliance between the political heads of both nations, the U.S. State, Homeland Security and Justice departments, and the Mexicans. There is trust and good relations. However, there are weaknesses in Mexico's security institutions and corruption.

What was signed does not contain concrete agreements or the programs in which the cooperation will be developed. It is a pending matter for both. We do not know the specific amounts that the governments are going to dedicate to promote those programs. A very large amount of money is needed for this to work.

Cooperation on security implies common challenges

The details of how the Bicentennial Understanding will be implemented are still unknown. The previous cooperation scheme, through the so-called Merida Initiative, was perfectible, especially considering the levels of violence in our country. Another strategy was needed, to be more comprehensive, which also focuses on security, human security, and health.

The Biden administration recognizes that the drug trafficking problem must be solved through cooperation with Mexico, unlike Donald Trump who promoted the construction of a border wall. Three out of four people do not feel safe in the streets; this needed new actions within an international cooperation strategy. This understanding between both nations "marks a new era, a new stage" to face these issues.

Without a decrease in the number of intentional homicides, Mexico would be facing actions that cannot be qualified positively; however, the political rapprochement between both nations, even though it is a multidimensional and complicated relationship in issues such as migration, opens channels of communication. There is a willingness of both governments to have a cooperative approach to face this problem and it is expected to be favorable in the future.