US & Canada

Obama says Mexico drug crime is not as bad as Colombia

Barack Obama (file photo)
Mr Obama has contradicted his Secretary of State

President Obama has denied that rising violence is making Mexico more and more like Colombia at the height of its drugs war.

The remark is an apparent contradiction to comments made by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

She said on Wednesday that the drug war in Mexico had begun to resemble the violence in Colombia 20 years ago.

But Mr Obama told a US Spanish-languange newspaper that there was no comparison between the two.

"Mexico is vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago," he told the Los Angeles-based daily La Opinion.

'Morphing'

Mrs Clinton made her remarks after a foreign policy speech at a think tank in Washington.

Drug cartels, she said, were "showing more and more indices of insurgencies".

The traffickers were "in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America", she said.

The violence was beginning to resemble Colombia of 20 years ago when insurgent groups controlled some 40% of the country, Mrs Clinton added.

Mexico rejected Mrs Clinton's analogy.

Speaking in Mexico City, a government spokesman said the only aspect that the Mexican and Colombian conflicts share is their root cause - a high demand for drugs in the US.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to fight the cartels in 2006 and violence has spilled over into Central America.