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Mexico Drug Certification Eyed

March 5, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton made a mistake in certifying Mexico as a fully cooperative ally in the war against illegal drug trafficking, two House Republicans say.

Now Reps. Clay Shaw and John Mica, both of Florida, have introduced a bill to reverse that decision.

``For the president to call Mexico a ‘partner’ in the war on drugs is outrageous,″ Shaw said Wednesday. ``A significant amount of the drugs on our streets and in our neighborhoods continues to come from Mexico. We must take this step to show the Mexican government that we take anti-drug efforts with dead seriousness.″

The bill was announced a day after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

``While Mexico has made some limited progress, there remain gaping holes in its counternarcotics effort,″ Feinstein said Tuesday.

The annual certification process regularly offends officials in Mexico, who call it an insult that infringes on their sovereignty.

The president must decide each year by March 1 whether to certify Mexico and other nations as cooperating partners in efforts to stop the production or shipment of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs from their countries. Foreign governments that are not certified face the loss of U.S. aid.

Congress has 30 days to decide whether to reverse the president’s decision. Both bills would allow the president to waive sanctions against Mexico despite decertification, however.

A spokesman for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy said the bills are likely to fail _ as they have previously. The United States stands to gain more through continued cooperation, said spokesman Bob Weiner.

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