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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my colleague in supporting the ongoing cooperation between the United States and Mexico to fight the drug cartels and curb the drug-related violence which is increasingly impacting our citizens on both sides of the border. There is no doubt that through the Merida Initiative, significant gains have been made against narcotraffickers and organized crime in Mexico over the past couple of years.
However, as is to be expected, the harder we fight to get them off the streets, the harder they fight to stay there. More than 7,000 people were killed at the hands of drug-related violence in Mexico last year alone. One of those victims is recognized in this resolution, Mr. Agustin Roberto ``Bobby'' Salcedo, a U.S. citizen and resident of California. Mr. Salcedo was in Mexico visiting his family, and was with family on New Year's Eve when, as the resolution states, he was callously abducted and murdered by a group of masked, armed men. His family has yet to learn why.
Unfortunately, Mr. Salcedo's story is one that many of us are becoming all too familiar with. Over 14 months ago, Mr. Felix Batista, a constituent of my congressional district, disappeared in Mexico. He has not been heard from or seen since. I have worked closely with many of my colleagues in the Florida delegation, both in the House and the Senate, especially our Florida Senator Bill Nelson, to try to help his family over the last year. And while it is my understanding that the FBI and Mexican authorities were investigating his case, his family has yet to gain a better understanding of exactly what happened to Mr. Batista on December 10, 2008.
The tragic disappearance of Mr. Batista and so many other Americans who have been victims of violence in Mexico demonstrates that the security challenges facing our neighbor in the south also pose a threat to the safety of our Nation and our citizens. It is critical that we continue to work with Mexico and other democratic partners in the region to present a united front against narcotraffickers in our hemisphere. We especially must not forget our partners in Colombia. While there is no doubt that tremendous advances have been made, the premature reduction in assistance to Colombia would undoubtedly put these great gains at risk. Much hard work remains to be done in Colombia and throughout the region.
Together we can successfully confront the transnational nature of these criminals and their illicit activities.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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