On 10 November, the Washington Office for Latin Americans Affairs (WOLA) published a report entitled “An instructive event: the lessons of Plan Colombia for US foreign policy toward Mexico and other countries.” In 2007, Mexico and the US agreed on an aid package of $1.4 billion to combat drug-trafficking and organized crime in observation of the so-called “Mérida Initiative.” To date, analysts have compared it with the Plan Colombia, signed in 2000.
Comparing these two agreements, WOLA came to assert the following in its report: “Almost four years after the launch of the Mérida Initiative, significant improvements in security terms have not been had. In place of arresting violence, the capture or murder of dozens of organized crime capos has brought this about.” It affirms that results to improve public security have been lacking, and that instead human-rights violations have increased.
In the time that has passed since the beginning of the Mérida Initiative, it notes, “organized crime has diversified its illegal income-generating activities. The extortion of small and large companies has increased dramatically, and this has led many such businesses to close or, as in zones like Ciudad Juárez, to flee. Extortional kidnappings have exploded. The cartels have taken control of the trafficking of persons in a number of border zones and transit routes of migrants, extortioning and murdering thousands of migrants, many of them originating from Central America.”
WOLA recommends in its report that “the best would be not to finance abusive armed forces. But if the U.S. chooses to train and finance militaries with histories of abuses, it has the absolute obligation of pressing for the generation of a climate that would favor respect for human rights. This would presuppose ending the impunity for abuses committed by soldiers and the promotion and incentivization of policies that reward respect for human rights. It is not just a matter of offering training.”
In response to the report, the Secretary of Foreign Relations (SRE) of Mexico noted that the the bilateral Mérida Initiative “complements today the efforts Mexico makes to confront organized crime.” It sustains that the program has contributed to the training of nearly 14,000 public servants involved in security and the provision of justice in the country. It adds that “the government of Mexico carries out unprecedented efforts to strengthen the State institutions and public security, in accordance with national interests and priorities.”
It should be recalled that Mexico has received more than $612 million from the Mérida Initiative, and there is being contemplated another $500 million from the U.S. government before the close of 2011.
For more information (in Spanish):
“Iniciativa Mérida extendió violencia” (El Universal, 11 November
HRW: EU debe retener fondos (El Universal, 11 November)
Impunidad, no un programa, eleva crimen, dicen analistas (El Universal, 11 November)
SRE defiende esquema de colaboración (El Universal, 11 November)
Iniciativa Mérida atizó la violencia en México: ONG (La Jornada, 11 November 2011)
Iniciativa Mérida ha incentivado la violencia en México: Wola (Proceso, 10 November 2011)
Informe completo from WOLA (November 2011)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Mexico: The Citizens’ Pact is signed in Juarez (21 June 2011)