On US foreign aid policy. We call for a change from the United States’ “war” focus to one of human security and development that contemplates promoting the healing of Mexico’s torn social fabric. We propose the immediate suspension of US assistance to Mexico’s armed forces. The “shared responsibility” for peace that both governments share must begin with each country complying with its own respective national laws.
The U.S. Regional Security Strategy applied in Mexico has two very important starting points: the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 with a process of economic regional integration, mainly between Mexico and the US, and the National Security Doctrine, established by former president Bush after the 9-11 attacks.
Currently the US aid to Mexico is focused on the promotion of its regional security strategy, in which our country plays a main role. Its main element is the so-called “Merida Initiative” which is known for its focus on combatting drug trafficking, even though it is a wider plan for regional security “… to combat drug trafficking and terrorism, and to increase border security “.
Following the 2001 attacks, the Bush administration launched a global security strategy based on the idea that global hegemony by the United States would be the best model to eliminate threats and ensure peace. Unilateral actions were implemented in the form of preventive strikes and civil liberties restrictions as a way to deal with their security problem. In the context of the evolution of U.S. foreign policy the Merida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico for its similarities to Plan Colombia, was presented in October 2007.
The official version is that it was set up as a response to a request made by President Calderon in Merida (hence the name) to help with the war on drugs. As stated above, there are many indications that the objectives of the Initiative were part of the U.S. security strategy in the region long before the request was made by the Mexican government, and that the U.S. government played a leading role in promoting the drug war model, which has now claimed over 60,000 lives in Mexico alone.
The original aid package implemented during the Bush administration was designed to last three years (2008 – 2011). However, the Obama administration has extended the Merida Initiative indefinitely and has yearly requested hundreds of millions in assistance which Congress has approved with little changes.
Some characteristics of the Initiative:
• Since 2012, there is no military support for the Merida Initiative; almost all military assistance (96%) was given in the first three years of the assistance. Neither the White House in its proposal nor Congress has specified a limit for the U.S.-Mexico aid for 2013.
• Most of the funds assigned to Mexico are directly aimed at the drug war, especially military and police assistance in the form of equipment and training. This assistance is focused on the of dismantling drug cartels, confiscating drug shipments intended for the U.S. market, and detaining or killing drug lords.
• In recent years, and as a way to confront criticism against the military nature of the plan, the U.S. government announced four pillars in an attempt to strengthen the Initiative:
- Dismantle organized criminal groups
- Strengthen institutions
- Build a 21st Century Border
- Build Strong and Resilient Communities
Concerns about U.S. military aid
Apart from U.S. assistance to Mexico through the Merida Initiative, cooperation through the Pentagon to Mexico’s armed forces has also increased. For fiscal year 2012, direct and indirect support from the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Mexican military may be more than $75.5 million. U.S. military support for Mexico’s armed forces reinforces and supports the inappropriate and dangerous open-ended role for the Mexican Army/Air Force in domestic law enforcement. Deploying the military cannot be a substitute for building police forces that fight crime with the trust and cooperation of Mexican citizens. DOD aid is not subject to robust human rights conditions and there is little way to know the precise nature of the Pentagon’s support for Mexico and its operations in the country. The Pentagon does not have to submit country-specific requests to Congress, so tracking U.S. military assistance to Mexico is difficult. Beyond the lack of transparency, we are concerned by reports that the DOD is interested in expanding its role in Mexico, especially given the draw down of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SOURCES: Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Mexico and the United States supported the war on drugs: Reasons, reviews and opportunities for Binational Movement.
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