Mexico/US: “An instructive event: the lessons of Plan Colombia for US foreign policy toward Mexico and other countries”

November 26, 2011

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)

México: Forum on “Military Cooperation, the Democratic Process, and Human Rights”  (29 May 2009)

Mexico: US approves another 300 million for Mexico as part of the Mérida Initiative (12 March 2009)

Guatemala: III Americas Social Forum

October 20, 2008

The III Americas Social Forum took place October 7-12 at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City. The gathering was composed of a space “to bring together all of the different forms of resistance and alternatives to neoliberal policies that have been created… and for the development of critical and original thought” (Irene León, Agencia Latinoamerica de Información) among the thousands of participants from all over the continent.

The forum was made up of a plethora of discussion groups, workshops and seminars organized under 6 main themes: Achievments and Challenges due to Changes in the Hemisphere; People in Resistance to Neoliberal Policies and Imperial Domination; In Defense of Quality of Life while Confronting the Capitalist Opresor; Diversity and Equality; The Ideological Dispute; and Original Peoples and Nations, Indigenous and Afro-descendents.

The Red por la Paz, of which SIPAZ is a member, also participated in the forum through a seminar titled “Land, Territory and Social Conflict.”

The presence of Bolivian president Evo Morales was anticipated for October 9. Unfortunately he was unable to attend personally, though he did prepare a statement in solidarity with the forum (see below) which was read that same afternoon.

The Social Forum was concluded with a March of Indigenous, Campesino, Workers Union, Black, Feminist and Popular Resistance which left from the Obelisco in the south of the city to the Central Plaza. At the plaza in front of the National Palace participants of the forum read the final declaration of the Social Movements’ Assembly (see below) in which “the Mérida Initiative, Plan Colombia, the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America), military bases, the School of the Americas and the Fourth Fleet” were denounced. The declaration also stated, “We are participants in a decisive and historic moment for humanity. In these few days the disaster created by the capitalist system has become evident, something those of us from social movements have been warning about for a long time.”

More Information:

III Americas Social Forum Website

More Information in Spanish:

Minga de Movimientos Sociales

Púlsar: Agencia Informativa

The II Hemispheric Meeting Against Militarization takes place in La Esperanza, Honduras

October 16, 2008

Slideshow of the II Hemispheric Meeting Against Militarization

The II Hemispheric Meeting Against Militarization took place between 3 and 6 October, 2008 in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. The meeting saw the participation of some 800 individuals and 175 organizations from 27 different countries including: Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the United States, Canada and five European countries.

During the 4 day gathering 19 regional based cases of “solidarity/urgent actions” were presented in which participants denounced the current militarization status of Haiti, Colombia, The United States, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Triple Border (between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay), Honduras, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala y Paraguay.

On October 3 and 4 workshops were presented on several diverse theme including: Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Americans and Campesinos; Immigration; Social Movements; the Criminalization of Social Struggle; the Fourth Fleet; the Triple Border; Military Bases; the Military Industrial Complex; the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America); Free Trade Agreements; the Mesoamerican Project (formerly the PPP, Plan Puebla Panama); IIRSA (Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America), the Merida Initiative and Plan Colombia. The reflection on possible plans of action was divided into regions: South America, Mesoamerica (including southern Mexico), the Caribbean and the North (including northern Mexico).

At the closing of the meeting the Final Declaration was read to the participants and later made public (in Spanish, see below). On the morning of the 6th, the gathering was concluded with a march and subsequent demonstration held in front of the United States military base located in Palmerola, Comayagua, Honduras.

Final Declaration of the II Hemispheric Forum Against Militarization (Spanish)

More information:

Hundreds Gather to Confront Militarization of the Americas (Americas Policy Program, 05/10/08)

More Information (in Spanish):

Sitio del II Encuentro Hemisférico contra la Militarización

Campesinos e indígenas protestan en base de Palmerola y exigen su cierre (Proceso, 06/10/08)

Campaña por la Desmilitarización de las Américas