THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER, SECRETARY OF TREASURY BOB RUBIN, PRESIDENT'S SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE AMERICAS MACK MCLARTY, AND DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF DRUG CONTROL POLICY, GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY
The Briefing Room
2:42 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: I've been waiting the arrival of Sandy Berger, the President's National Security Advisor; Robert Rubin, the Secretary of the Treasury; General Barry McCaffrey who is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and Mack McLarty, the President's Special Envoy for the Americas. They're here to tell you more about the trip. Please do not pester the Secretary of the Treasury with budget questions; he will not tell you anything more than I have told you just now, so it would be useless to spend any time in the briefing on that subject.
And I'm happy to turn it over to you.
Q Will he tell us what the FBI told him about the Chinese connection?
MR. MCCURRY: I did that one for Sandy's behalf yesterday, so don't ask him about that either.
MR. BERGER: In response to your overwhelming questions about the trip -- (laughter) -- let us now turn to the upcoming trip to Latin America. This is a trip beginning on Monday. It is the first of three trips the President will make to Latin America over the next year. This trip will involve Mexico, Costa Rica where he will meet with all of the Central American Presidents, and the Caribbean, where he will meet with the Caribbean leaders. This is part of a very intensive effort that the President really launched in Miami back in 1994 and is now carrying forward with great intensity I think into the second term.
This is a moment of great possibility in the Americas, because the Americas are coming together around values that we share. And it is really -- we've focused an enormous amount of thought and attention on what's happened in Central Europe over the last decade. But what has happened in our own hemisphere over the same period is equally dramatic.
Now, we have every nation a democracy, whereas 10 years ago we were dealing in many cases with authoritarian dictatorships. We had civil wars, certainly through Central America; we now have governments, largely democratically elected, focusing on economic development and sustainable projects in the environment and other things for their people.
This region and its future is extraordinarily important to the United States. Because it is our neighbor, because it is an area where there is now a convergence of values and interests, we have a tremendous opportunity over the next several years for the United States. It is a opportunity for political alignment as well as economic growth.
The scenario that is now very rapidly growing, very rapidly integrating, but it will -- it will continue to integrate. It will not necessarily integrate with the United States unless we are proactive in that respect. I would point out, for example, that the Mercosur countries in South America, for the first time in 1996 sold more to -- purchased more from the EU than the United States. So we have to be aggressive in cultivating the trends in our own hemisphere that are extraordinarily compatible with our interests.
Let me very quickly walk through each stop, and then ask Mack McLarty to put this in a little broader context in terms of the hemisphere.
The U.S.-Mexican relationship I think arguably is the deepest and broadest of any relationship that the United States has. We have a 2,000-mile border; whether it is jobs or growth or environment or drugs or migration we are -- our destinies, our fates, our well-being is inextricably intertwined. By the same token, the problems that we have defy unilateral solutions. All of the problems that I've talked about really what happens there matters to us, what happens here matters to them.
Now, the President will be arriving in Mexico and after meeting with President Zedillo will be joining a meeting of the binational commission. This is a structure set up several years ago, chaired by the Secretary of State on our side; chaired by the Foreign Minister on the Mexican side. And there will be quite a collection of Cabinet officials from the United States government and from the Mexican government who will have been meeting since Monday in a series of working groups dealing with education, dealing with the environment, dealing with drugs, dealing with migration. And as in the past, this is a group that meets periodically and, as in the past, has moved our cooperation forward, and we hope that that will happen at this next meeting.
The two Presidents will join that meeting and will listen to and receive the reports from General McCaffrey and from Secretary Albright and others on the various areas that I've discussed and what has been accomplished in those areas. The President will have a press conference and talk about the range of issues involved in our relationship.
Second day in Mexico will be one in which he goes off to a village and will be -- the major event of that day will be a speech that he gives to the Mexican people, and then a trip out of Mexico City, where he will be in a more informal setting in a village outside of Mexico City.
We then go on to Costa Rica where all of the heads of Central America will be gathered. Again, I would urge you to pause for a moment and think about -- if I was standing here 10 years ago talking about Central America, I would have been talking about the war in Nicaragua, the war in El Salvador, the war in Guatemala, I would have been talking about military regimes that were dominant and sometimes repressive. And in each of these places, we now have democratically-elected civilian regimes that are moving to an entirely new agenda, and they want to get on with the future.
And this is what the summit meeting that will take place in Costa Rica will talk about. They'll take about trade and immigration and environmental issues. And the second day, the President will go out and visit an environmental area in Costa Rica, which has been one of the leaders in developing its parks and developing a program of sustainable environment, which was a regional
initiative that was launched in connection with Miami, if you recall, back in 1994.
And then the final stop is in Barbados where, for the first time ever, an American President will have a summit meeting with all of the democratic leaders of the Caribbean nations. This has never happened before. And it's really a statement by this President that we are a Caribbean nation and that we want the new kind of partnership with -- it doesn't seem that way in Washington, I know, but if you go a little farther south -- and that we want a different kind of partnership with the Caribbean than has taken place before. And there will be a discussion among them of issues where we can intensify our cooperation on law enforcement and security, on trade and development, and on a range of other issues.
And then the President, I believe, will stay on for a few days, and back on Monday. We will come back on Saturday.
But if you look at this in its larger terms, it's part of a larger initiative building on the Summit of the Americas of '94 to take advantage of the extraordinary developments that are taking place in our own hemisphere for the benefit of the American people.
Now, let's just go -- why don't we go through the presentations and then we'll come back.
MR. MCLARTY: Sandy, thank you.
As Sandy noted, this will be the first of three trips the President will make to the hemisphere in the next 12 months, beginning with our closest neighbors to the south, which Sandy outlined. And then in the fall, we'll be traveling to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela. And this really is a journey, the path, if you will, to the convening of the next Summit of Americas -- 34 democratically-elected heads of state in Santiago, Chile in early 1998.
Now, the obvious point here is, this is a very high degree presidential engagement in intensity and focus in the region. And we clearly think the President is committed to -- this is in the direct interest of the American people.
Sandy outlined, I think, the fact that the President has seen, beginning with the Summit of the Americas in 1994 -- I have certainly seen it on my 30 trips to region in the last two years -- an emerging alliance based on interest and values, as well as history, geography and culture. And there is clearly becoming a new reality in the region. And you can step back and compare the civil wars, the insurgencies, the dictatorships to the democracies and the open markets that we are now finding in the peace and the stability that is really promoted throughout the region.
It's a time of promise and increasing confidence in the region. The President feels very strongly that this is an historic opportunity in a true era of possibility. But the transition to open market democracies and the key point of this intense engagement in the next 12 months -- the transition is not complete. Indeed, we are at a delicate time in a transition period. The events, the circumstances, are positive, but the ultimate direction is not yet fully fixed. And the real question in the region is can democracy that has moved through the region -- can democracy really deliver to the people of the Americas.
Our efforts are part of a continuing and a comprehensive strategy that began with the Summit of the Americas in 1994. It has continued with the supporting of democracy in the region in Haiti; in Paraquay, where we worked closely with the Mercosur Group go avert a constitutional crisis there; and in Guatemala and Central America, the first time that region has seen peace in 36 years. We have also seen a sustained effort regarding trade with the passage of the NAFTA and with the centerpiece of the Miami Summit, the free trade area of the Americas by the year 2005.
This is a natural market for us, which Secretary Rubin will comment on in his presentation. But succinctly put, our exports are growing at about twice the rate in the hemisphere as they are in any other region in the world. In one statistic, last year United States investment in Brazil was $7 billion. I think that underscores the amount of trade and commerce and investment that has taken place.
The President has commented that the enemy of our time is inaction, and truly, this is a missed opportunity without this kind of presidential engagement and intensity to deepen our relationship in the region and to capitalize on market opportunities. And as I said earlier, our efforts here directly impact the well-being of our citizens and our futures.
The issues that we see in the hemisphere are the issues that come home to Americans, whether they be on the economic side or whether they be on the issues of concern on the challenge side, including narcotics, narcotics trafficking -- of course, General McCaffrey will speak to that -- the complicated issue of immigration or environment degradation.
In short, we have an opportunity to establish and deepen a remarkable partnership, a partnership based on mutual respect and on mutual trust. And I firmly believe that with this kind of emphasis and effort, that the Americas truly have the potential to be the cornerstone, if you will, for our security and our prosperity in years to come.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, just a couple of brief remarks. We'll -- obviously, drugs will be a major component of our interaction on the trip. The Mexico portion -- a binational commission will go down and address security issues, justice issues. At the end of Monday we're going to have a session of the high-level contact group, the oversight group, where Secretary Albright and the Deputy Secretary of Treasury and the Attorney General and I will meet with our Mexican counterparts and try and pin down some of the rather extensive cooperation that is ongoing with Mexico.
On Tuesday, both the Attorney General of Mexico, Madrazo and I will try and report out to the President and give him some -- the two Presidents some sense of where we are. Then there will be other discussions -- both the Attorney General and the Secretary of State and I while we're down there.
Central America -- another problem -- the Transit Zone -- a lot of these drugs are moving at sea now, not by land. But having said all that, there's still an enormous amount of inter-American highway traffic involving cocaine movement and indeed an enormous threat to the people of Costa Rica; Guatemala; Panama, in particular in terms of money laundering and drug abuse in their own societies. So I think that will be one aspect of the discussion among the chiefs of state in that visit.
And then, finally, Barbados. Both Mack McLarty and I just got back from a ministerial session there to try and look at the very real concerns of the Caribbean nations to this enormous onslaught of cocaine in particular coming out of Colombia, principally through Venezuela or by sea. It's having a devastating impact not only in the obvious gun smuggling, drug smuggling, money laundering violence and corruption, but indeed in the addiction of people in Caribbean Islands themselves.
So, all three stops, we think drug abuse and its consequences will be a common discussion item. Now, it's sensitized by two obvious things that have happened. One was the Organization of American States had the SICAD meeting and all 32 drug ministers -- whoever has the portfolio -- came together. Ambassador Hattie Babbitt and I and the Attorney General and others were involved with that OAS session and had some very useful and detailed exchanges of views on where we needed to go.
And the second issue was certification, which has, without question, raised the whole notion of partnership and the requirement that many of feel is at the heart and soul of the President's drug strategy, which is to work in some notion of multinational cooperation. So that will be a constant theme, I would suggest, in all three visits.
We expect that in Mexico, in particular, that we will try and achieve some incremental steps -- agreements. We'll be looking toward the future, and we'll be trying to build on a lot of the work that's gone on in the last year.
On that note, thanks very much.
SECRETARY RUBIN: Thank you, Barry, for the introduction. (Laughter.)
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It's probably the best one you've had. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RUBIN: It is the best one I've had actually in the last couple of days, at least. (Laughter.)
In any event, America's economic relationship with Mexico is now one of our most important partnerships in the world. Mexico is our third largest trading partner, and without question, the economic well-being of millions of Americans are affected directly or indirectly by our trade with Mexico.
In 1996, 76 percent of Mexico's imports came from the United States. Clearly a stable, prosperous Mexico is very important to us, economically, and it's also very important to us in terms of our national security.
The President's trip to Mexico highlights some very good news. The financial crisis of 1995, which was a very severe and very threatening crisis is now over. Our emergency support program, plus the really quite remarkable, I think, political courage and resolve of the Mexican leadership have resulted in the conditions that produced that crisis, now having been dealt with effectively and no longer in existence.
Our loan has been fully repaid, as you know. In addition, the American taxpayers made a rather substantial profit on that loan. Mexico had the breathing space to get its economic house in order and Mexico did exactly that.
Last year, Mexico grew about five percent, which is in excess of private sector forecasts, and growth is expected to be at good, solid levels this year. Unemployment and inflation are down; financial stability, monetary and fiscal policy are both back on track.
There are great economic challenges facing Mexico and we continue to work very closely with the Mexican government. On the other hand, a great deal has been accomplished. Let me make one comment, if I may, about NAFTA. I think without any question, NAFTA continues to work to the benefit of both countries. And beyond that, I think NAFTA really proved its mettle during the crisis. In fact, I think that NAFTA was even more important during the crisis than it is in normal times, because NAFTA created an integration with the global economy, which in turn was a very strong inducement to the Mexican government to deal with this crisis to reform, which has worked, rather than doing what they did in 1982 when they increased tariffs by 100 percent, became a more statist economy. And it took them seven years to get back into the international economic markets -- global financial markets, as opposed to the seven months it took them this time.
Our exports in every year that NAFTA has been in effect have grown as a percentage. Our exports to Mexico have grown as a percentage of their total imports, and our exports to Mexico are now at record levels.
Having said all that, clearly Mexico faces very great challenges ahead, and we expect to continue working effectively and cooperatively with the Mexican government as they continue to pursue sound macroeconomic policies, structural reform and very importantly, working to make sure that all Mexicans ensure the benefit of their economic recovery.
Let me also say, as Barry McCaffrey said, that we look forward to continuing to work with the Mexican government with respect to law enforcement. And just to wear my Treasury hat for the moment, we have in the past commented on the successful -- the progress that we have had in the money-laundering area. We hope to continue working and expect to continue working with the Mexican government in this area and also on improving drug interdiction.
I very much look forward to being in Mexico as part of the President's team and working with our counterparts for the benefit of Mexico but also very much for the benefit of the United States.
Q Sandy, why has it taken until the fifth year of his presidency for the President to go to Mexico, our biggest -- you know, our neighbor to the south and visit these other areas? And, secondly, what agreements do you expect? General McCaffrey touched on some drug things. What agreements do you expect to come out of this trip? Could you outline them?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, on the first question, I think the President wishes that he could have gone earlier, but we certainly have had, as Mack has suggested, a very active policy with respect to Latin America. During the first term, the President has met with most of these leaders. He convened the first ever Summit of the Americas in Miami, and there has been an active engagement and sort of a laying of a foundation in the first term, but I think his feeling now is this is the moment where we have to move to really consolidate that.
We'll have to wait and see in terms of agreements. I would hope that, coming out of the binational commission and in Mexico there will be progress made in the area of narcotics, in the area of immigration, in the area of environment, education, and across the board. Each of these subgroups, hopefully will move the ball forward in terms of a very, very broad relationship. And I'm not sure that any one of these agreements, in an of themselves, will dramatic. But I think when you accumulate the steady progress that's being made on all of these fronts, it will be a solid record.
Q You mentioned the binational commission meeting. One member of President Zedillo's Cabinet was arrested in February and found to be living under the same roof as one of Mexico's worst drug lords. Another member of his Cabinet, the attorney general, resigned and now he claims that President Zedillo knew about this corruption. When you sit across the table from these people, what assurance can you have that they can be trusted to cooperate with the United States on matters like drug enforcement?
MR. BERGER: I think -- let me answer first, and then if Mack or Barry want to add anything -- that you judge President Zedillo by his actions. I mean, this is a President who has said that the number one national security threat to his country is drugs. And when he found the general that you referred to, was allegedly engaged with drug-trafficking, he arrested him immediately, even though that came a week or so before our certification debate; it may have been convenient for that not to happen so quickly. He moved swiftly when he had the information to arrest this gentleman and he's now in prison.
I think we have a high level of confidence in the Zedillo government in terms of what they've done on the economic front, what they're seeking to do on the narcotics front, and what they're doing on the political front, which is moving that country towards a multi-party democracy from what has been a one-party system.
Q If I could follow up with a specific on that, Raul Salinas has been in jail for something like two years now and the United States has repeatedly tried to get access to him to talk to him about some matters involving United States violations in a number of money-laundering cases. How can you talk about cooperation when federal prosecutors can't even get in to talk to a key figure who had tried to intervene?
MR. BERGER: I don't know -- I'll ask Barry or someone else to comment on the Salinas case in particular, but you have to look at cooperation. Is there corruption in the Mexican system? I think that President Zedillo would be the first to acknowledge that there is. But when you look at what he is seeking to do just today or yesterday announced -- and Barry can comment on this more -- the dismantling of their drug police, an effort to build an entirely new, vetted, more professional drug police. Twelve hundred members of the police last year were fired for alleged corruption. I think this is a government that understands the problem, understands the threat. And we have to deal with this cooperatively. We --
Q Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation they're giving you?
MR. BERGER: I think there is an unprecedented level of cooperation, and we want to see more. But let me ask Barry to comment on this.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: To be direct, it seems to me you have to put it in context -- it's not whether there's violence and corruption -- there is, massive amounts. And I might add -- on both sides of the border. There isn't symmetry to this argument, but I'm always concerned a bit about creative hypocrisy because it's $49 billion of U.S. money on drugs that is acting as an engine drawing 60 percent of our own cocaine, marijuana, heroine coming through Mexico or adjoining Pacific or Caribbean waters.
Now, having said that, we've watched Mexican police lose literally hundreds of officers, murdered in the line of duty. They've had 25 major assassinations. There is no question that their democratic institutions are under attack from within. It is our own view that Madrazo, Cervantes, the President are trying to deal with this problem, and that it seems to us that cooperating not only with the judicial systems and the armed forces, but also with these binational task forces that we're putting together is the best way to protect both people.
Q What about access to drug traffickers like Salinas for U.S. prosecutors?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, we've had -- these are all attorney general to attorney general matters. They're not political judgments, but case by case. Extradition works that way. There's a packet with a person's name on it, and it either meets or doesn't meet the legal requirements of the other country. There has been cooperation on sharing of evidence and intelligence, training. We are indeed in contact with these people.
And I -- just to reiterate the point about Guitierrez Rebollo who is apparently a thug working for one criminal gang against other criminal gangs, the INCD director. The Mexicans picked up on this, arrested him and put him in the slammer 62 days after they put him in office. This was a bigger psychological blow to Mexican confidence than probably anything that's happened to them in years. But they did face up to it. They're trying to roll up his gang right now. And we're watching that, trying to support their own efforts. They just arrested another general who had offered a bribe, alleged, of a $1 million a week to not do the guy's job.
So, this is a very serious challenge, but we think they're struggling for their own democratic institutions.
Q I would like to ask you about the immigration problem. In the past, every time an American President has gone to Mexico and immigration has been on the agenda -- always very low -- the Mexican President, whoever is in power at the time, has always said, that's your problem to the U.S. President. How cooperative are they on the question of illegal immigration?
MR. BERGER: Well, we are -- there's a great deal of cooperation that is taking place. I wish Doris Meissner were here to go into more detail with you, but there is a strong cooperative relationship on working together to stop illegal immigration. And there will be specific discussion while we are in Mexico about ways to make that stronger.
We have new legislation, as you know -- excuse us -- new tools to deal with illegal immigration, some aspects of that law have created some concerns in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, and we'll try to deal with those. But I think the cooperation with the Mexican government has been strong in this area.
Q Sandy, do you think that the political timing of this in Mexico right now, in terms of the coming election, could be send the wrong message to the Mexican people, seeing the President of the United States meeting with President Zedillo and supporting all his economic and political ideas?
MR. BERGER: Well, we're going to Mexico because of the extraordinarily important relationship that the four of us have been talking about. This meeting was originally scheduled for earlier and was postponed a bit because of the President's injury. But we are going to Mexico to meet with the Mexican government to talk about ways in which we can cooperate together. We're not going to become engaged in internal Mexican political debates or discussions. There is an election going on for the legislature in July. But if we didn't go anywhere when there was a pending election, we wouldn't go anywhere.
Q Sandy, could I just follow up with the first question that Terry asked? This is year five of the presidency and you say the President regrets the fact that he couldn't go south of the border earlier. Why couldn't he go south of the border earlier? If it's such an important area to the United States --
MR. BERGER: Let's look what this President did with respect to Latin America in the first term. Number one, he committed himself to getting NAFTA completed. He had one of the most intensive legislative struggles of the first term, against opposition within his own party and, to some degree, the other party -- and we won. And we created a North American Free Trade Agreement. Number one.
Number two, for the first time ever, the President convened a summit of all of the Latin American leaders, in Miami. This was historic, and we worked on it for a year. Mack was very instrumental in it. And it charted a course of cooperation that committed the hemisphere to many things -- on democracy, on political and environmental development and on free trade by the year 2005. And has met over this period with virtually every Latin American president.
So we've traveled quite a bit in the first term. We weren't able to make a trip to Latin America, but we will do it this year. But I think the Latin Americans -- I should say one other thing, and that is the Mexican peso crisis where, once again, not only Mexico but all of Latin America and perhaps much of the developing world was imperiled by the imminent collapse of the peso. And the President, once again, against the overwhelming feeling on the Hill and the fairly broad feeling in the country, made a commitment to step in and provide some economic support.
So I don't think there is any question of this President's commitment to Latin America. I don't think there is any question in Latin America to his commitment. I think he now wants to move it another step forward in terms of building the kind of alliances that Mack and Barry and Bob have talked about.
Q Mr. Secretary, forgive me for being imprudent and not following Mike McCurry's advice, but obviously the budget talks are a central focus with a lot of people today. Where do we stand on those? And is there likely to be an agreement, if not today, tomorrow?
SECRETARY RUBIN: I think I'll stick with -- I didn't hear Mike's comments, but I think the best thing to do is to say we've all been up on the Hill -- I was up there all morning. And when, as, and if there is something to say, there will be appropriate people to say it.
Q But can you give us some sense of where things stand?
SECRETARY RUBIN: I really don't -- I think better to leave it be where it is. And when, as, and if there is something to say, as I said, there will be somebody to say it.
Q Mr. Rubin, do you expect to hear during this trip from the majority of the leaders that you'll meet, that if fast-track authority is not given to your administration, that these countries will accelerate their efforts to create trading relationships among themselves.
SECRETARY RUBIN: Well, I think Mack McLarty said it very well.
Q Well, I would be happy to ask --
SECRETARY RUBIN: No, no. I was going to repeat what I think he said. (Laughter.) No, I think Mack said it very well. The world isn't going to wait for us. They're going to form regional agreements amongst countries and they're going to form sectoral agreements around sectors and we're going to be part of it or not part of it, and clearly, our economic self-interest relies on being part of it and that require fast track authority.
Q -- but the question is, what will you be telling them when you're down there about fast track --
SECRETARY RUBIN: We're going to tell them we are committed to getting fast track authority, we're going to do everything we can to get it.
Q Can I follow up on something the General mentioned when you were up there? You mentioned that you're considering a multilateral approach to verification. Is that something that's actively under discussion now? Is that something the President is likely to discuss?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think from the start, when the President put out the National Drug Strategy, two of the five goals deal with cooperation with our partners, and so from the start, we have suggested the President had me go up and be the U.S. delegation chief to ECOSOC, to work with UNDCP at the United Nations. He has had me go to and address and take part in the deliberation of the OAS SICOD, and then finally it's been our viewpoint from the start that particularly on this upcoming trip, that we could underscore that -- we're a Caribbean nation, so the drug problem and gun smuggling and money laundering and the violence that comes from drugs is a Caribbean regional problem. That's really where we think we have to go with it.
Q -- process in which the U.S. would have one vote among many votes, about whether a country would be certified --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, certainly, if it's done in the context of the OAS, that's exactly what we mean. There would be some cooperative arrangement of partners.
Q -- do you think that the Mexicans dismantle their version of U.S. enforcement in drug administration, and what do you think this new entity that they have created -- is that, like some critics say, pure aesthetics, or is there some content about it? I mean, there's some reality about it?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I listened to the announcement. I had been privy to some of their own thinking when Mr. Berger and McLarty and I had been there on earlier trips. I think they're persuaded that INCD has been mortally wounded as a police agency, they have said publicly they intend to do something about this. The Attorney General Madrazo, a human rights lawyer, has selected a new officer of government and they're going to start from the ground up, and they have a system they have devised of drug tests and polygraph tests and financial disclosures, they've got some 90 agents now and they're going to move ahead and try and protect the Mexican people with a new, non-corrupted drug police force.
Q Will there be a decision --
Q Is there new cooperation with the United States with this new entity?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think we're going to offer partnership and support. This has to be Mexican thinking and Mexican leadership. But if there is some way we can support their efforts, we will.
Q Will there be a decision by the end of this -- by the time this trip goes forward about how the United States is going to crack down on the use of Mexican financial institutions by drug money-launderers, that whole sort of broad thing that was sketched out, I think, in The New York Times a couple weeks ago?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: This is Secretary Rubin's area. We've been working for a year. He's got computers down there, training packages. We're supporting them to put together the mechanism to enforce their brand new money-laundering legislation from last May and their organized crime legislation from November. So, in fact, there are real people on the ground.
Q I'm talking about the freezing of their assets in the U.S. in trying to work at it from not allowing them to be -- people who are suspected money launderers being involved in U.S. financial institutions.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I'm not too sure I want to -- MR. BERGER: That report is something that's being
looked at within the United States government and I don't anticipate anything happening in the near future.
Q Sandy, are you satisfied that FBI Director Freeh and the Justice Department are telling you everything that they're telling Congress?
MR. BERGER: Let's keep this to Mexico.
Q Sandy, can I ask you one more question about Mexico? There was a story yesterday saying that there's some concerns about human rights violations within Mexico --
MR. BERGER: There was a story yesterday about some individuals who apparently were asked to leave Mexico. I think -- I don't know the details of the particular circumstance, but I do think you have to put it in context of a country that is going through quite a historic transition from one-party government to multi-party democracy. Fully 30 percent now of the people of Mexico at the state and local level live with governors or local officials from opposition parties. That's a remarkable change. And there is overall -- obviously, we've always been concerned about human rights situations in all countries and we comment on them when appropriate. But the overall picture here is one of a country that is undergoing political reform.
END 3:21 P.M. EDT