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THE WORLD

Calderon tells U.S. to cut drug demand

March 11, 2007|From the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Saturday that drug traffickers' threats against his government would not stop a military crackdown against them, and he demanded that the United States do more to fight the sale and consumption of drugs domestically.

In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Calderon said he would push President Bush to respect migrants' rights and do more to combat drug use in the U.S. when the two meet Tuesday in the colonial city of Merida, Mexico.

"We are, at the end of the day, putting our lives on the line in this battle, and the United States has to come up with something that is more than symbolic gestures -- much more," Calderon said. "Mexico can't diminish the availability of drugs while the U.S. hasn't reduced its demand. It's an elemental equation."

Calderon said members of the federal government have received threats from drug traffickers.

"There have been a lot of threats -- whether they have been false or real -- but they won't stop us from taking action," he said as he returned from a visit to Chiapas state, where he marked his first 100 days in office.

Hoping to end a bloody turf war between cartels, Calderon has sent thousands of troops and federal police officers to areas controlled by drug traffickers, including cities along the U.S. border, his home state of Michoacan and the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco. He also began extraditing drug lords to face justice north of the border, something that the United States had urged Mexico to do for years.

Calderon said "no amount of jobs or investment" can halt his countrymen from seeking higher wages in the United States and voiced support for Bush's proposal to allow Mexicans to seek temporary work visas. He said he would fight to protect migrants from a "culture of persecution" in the United States.

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