After much deliberation within the US Congress and the meeting held between the US and Mexican Congresses in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon last week, it seems that the major conditions originally planned for the Mérida Initiative (alternately, Plan Mexico), tacked onto the Iraq Supplemental Bill, will be softened, but remain intact, according the the New York Times. However, on Friday, June 13, President Calderón, while in Spain discussing the privatization of Pemex (the state run Mexican petroleum company), celebrated the fact that the US Congress had cut certain conditions tied to the initiative, among them judicial reforms and human rights regulations that Calderón and some members of the Mexican Congress felt violated Mexican sovereignty. It still remains to be seen whether the conditions will be completely dropped or simply revised.
In May the Mérida Initiative was passed in the House and Senate, cutting the original amount of USD 500 million for the fiscal year of 2008 to USD 350 million. The amount is destined for technology, equipment and training of the Mexican military, police forces and judicial system to aid in the “war on drugs” and terrorism that president Calderón has made a priority during his term in office.
The meeting in Monterrey that sparked the debate over the conditions placed on the initiative was held at the same time that the inauguration of the Center for Dialog and Analysis on North America at the Monterrey Institute of Technology campus in Mexico City. In attendance at the inauguration was the US Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Mexico, Leslie Basset, who in her speech at the center suggested the integration of the Mérida Initiative with the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). Many suspect that the initiative is in fact the first legislative step in the progression of the SPP in order to “harmonize” the laws and regulations of the two nations.
Previously, the Mexican Minister of the Interior, Juan Camilo Mouriño Terrazo, stated that, “the incorporation of unilateral measures or evaluations that attempt to place conditions on the use of the resources implicated in the Mérida Initiative would have a profoundly contrary result to that of the objective and spirit of the initiative and would be counterproductive. For this reason it would be considered unacceptable.” Given the recent news that these conditions will be softened or dropped, it remains to be seen whether initiative will be received by the Mexican government.
US/Mexico: US Congress to vote on Mérida Initiative (SIPAZ 13/05/2008)
Plan Colombia and Beyond (Center for International Policy 13/06/2008)
Mexico: Antidrug Aid’s Strings Intact (New York Times 11/06/08)
U.S. lawmakers try to save Mexican drug fight plan (Reuters 08/06/2008)
US lawmakers to review Mexico aid terms (Associated Press 08/06/2008)
Lawmakers to Drop Language in U.S. Anti-Drug Package for Mexico (Bloomberg 08/06/2008)
US lawmakers to review Mexico aid terms (WTOP News 08/06/2008)
U.S. Merida aid initiative angers some in Mexico (Los Angeles Times 05/06/2008)
A Primer on Plan Mexico (Laura Carlsen 05/05/2008)
Mexico and the Merida Initiative: Make Human Rights the Core (Amnesty International 05/2008)
Wilson Center: Mérida Initiative Portal
More information in Spanish:
La embajada de EU sugiere que el Plan México entre en ASPAN (La Jornada 09/06/2008)
Propone consejera de la embajada de EU integrar la Iniciativa Mérida al ASPAN (Proceso 09/06/2008)
Mensaje ofrecido por el Secretario de Gobernación, Juan Camilo Mouriño Terrazo, en las instalaciones de esta dependencia (02/06/2008)