July 15, 2005

U.S. border governors stay away from Mexico meeting

By Eduardo Quiros

TORREON, Mexico (Reuters) - A meeting in Mexico to address
a vicious drugs war and a wave of illegal immigration along the
U.S.-Mexico border ended on Friday without the participation of
key U.S. border governors.

An all-out drugs war that has killed some 600 people south
of the Rio Grande this year topped the agenda at the two-day
gathering of Mexican and U.S. officials.

It followed repeated calls by the United States for Mexico
to crack down on violence on its border.

Governors of all six Mexican states touching the shared
2,000-mile frontier attended. But governors Rick Perry of Texas
and Janet Napolitano of Arizona were absent even though their
states are among the hardest hit by illegal immigration and
crime from Mexico.

Perry, whose office said he was too busy with tax and
education matters to attend, sent a videotaped address,
warning, "There can be no homeland security without border

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger attended the
inaugural dinner and went home after a few hours. Only Gov.
Bill Richardson of New Mexico attended the full event.

"It would seem that Mexicans are taking the problems that
we have on the frontier more seriously than the Americans,"
said Arturo Solis of the Center for Frontier Studies and Human
Rights in Reynosa, Texas.

"These problems are not just related to violence, but also
issues of immigration, trade and the environment. ... (The
governors' absence) demonstrates a real lack of interest in
finding bilateral solutions," he said.


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott met top officials in
Mexico City on Thursday to work out how to combat a drug war on
the state border that he said "has spiraled out of control."

More than 170 people have been killed south of Texas in
Tamaulipas state this year in a war between Mexico's drug
cartels for control of the lucrative cross-border trade in
cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines.

The worst violence has been in the border city of Nuevo
Laredo, where 87 people have been murdered this year and about
30 American citizens have been kidnapped since last August.

The U.S. government has called on Mexico to do more to stop
the violence and twice warned U.S. citizens about travel to
cities south of the Rio Grande. Mexico responded by telling
Washington to stay out of its affairs.

During the meeting, governors looked at plans to improve
the sharing of intelligence about drug cartels, youth gangs and
possible terrorist threats.

Illegal immigration is also an issue, with U.S. concerns
that terror suspects may slip in among the more than 1 million
migrants trekking across the border from Mexico each year.