MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto will seek to double security spending to around 2 percent of GDP to fight drug violence and organized crime while proposing new tactics to the United States, a top aide said on Tuesday.
Emilio Lozoya, touted as a possible pick for foreign minister, said Pena Nieto’s administration would try to boost efforts to tackle money laundering and propose trans-border infrastructure projects to help create jobs, cut business costs and increase security.
“Today Mexico is investing a bit less than 1 percent of gross domestic product (in security) which is low and clearly not enough to confront this problem,” Lozoya told Reuters in an interview. “Investment on security needs to double at least.”
He said U.S. financial aid, while welcome, was small in relation to Mexico’s security spending, particularly “when the end consumer of narcotics is in the United States”.
Pena Nieto proposes focusing efforts on projects that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border such as tunnels and high-tech border crossings, which would create jobs, boost security and promote economic development, Lozoya said.
He said there was also scope for cooperation to fight money laundering and that the United States could help Mexico by stopping automatic weapons from crossing the border and feeding drug gang violence.
“There is a lot that can be done to combat money laundering in particular,” Lozoya said. “We are not getting the results that we want. ... The United States can make an additional effort to reduce the flow of arms from there into Mexico.”
Pena Nieto pledged in the campaign to create a new police force made up of former soldiers to fight drug gangs and said ending the violence would take priority over battling the traffickers if he won.
Around 55,000 people have been killed in drug violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006 and deployed the army to take on the cartels.
Before Sunday’s election win, Pena Nieto also said he would name Colombia’s top crime fighter, retired General Oscar Naranjo, who is known for tackling drug cartels and guerrillas, as his government’s chief security advisor.
Under Naranjo’s command, and with the support of the United States, Colombia’s national police grew into a formidable and well-trained force, credited with cracking down on Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, drug traffickers and paramilitary groups.
Editing by Daniel Trotta and Christopher Wilson