CIP Americas Policy Program: "Plan Mexico" Likely to Backfire


CIP Americas Policy Program: “Plan Mexico” Likely to Backfire

For Immediate Release — June 30, 2008

On June 26, the U.S. Senate approved the “Merida Initiative,” an aid package that provides $400 million dollars to Mexican security forces and other agencies for use in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and border security measures. The bill now goes to President Bush for signature.

Congress approved the initiative, more commonly known as “Plan Mexico,” after first adding then removing some human rights conditions that the Mexican government rejected as a violation of national sovereignty.

The “regional security cooperation initiative” allocates $116.5 million dollars to the Mexican military for equipment and training and funds to police forces. Much of the money will go directly to major defense contractors and defense-related information technology firms.

Laura Carlsen, Director of the Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, stated, “Plan Mexico extends into Mexico the Bush administration’s failed ‘war on terrorism’ and the ‘drug war’ model. These are policies that have militarized U.S. foreign policy, wasted taxpayers money and caused the United States to lose standing in the world—notably in Latin America.”

Although billed as a binational counternarcotics effort to help Mexico fight the burgeoning power and violence of drug cartels, Plan Mexico does not include any funds for drug-use prevention or rehabilitation, or support to prevent cultivation of illegal drug crops in impoverished rural areas.

The final version also omits programs to decrease U.S. drug demand, arms-trafficking or money-laundering—three areas of U.S. responsibility considered key to reducing the power of transnational organized crime. Demand-reduction programs have been shown in studies to be far more effective in reducing illegal drug flows than supply-side measures.

Ms. Carlsen adds, “There is no question that we need to increase binational cooperation in intelligence-gathering, pursuit of money laundering, and specialized border controls for drugs and arms trafficking. But experience shows that the enforcement-interdiction model is ineffective in stemming illicit drug flows.”

The CIP Americas Policy Program notes that human rights violations and drug-related violence have increased precipitously since President Felipe Calderon launched the military/police offensive, sending more than 20,000 army troops into the streets of Mexico. Documented cases of rapes and murders of unarmed civilians at the hands of Mexican security forces have often gone unpunished.

“This ‘collateral damage’ of the drug war, which will increase with the military-oriented aid provided under the Merida Initiative, is unacceptable. In a country where democratic institutions are weak and transition to democracy incipient, aid that strengthens security forces takes Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico relationship in precisely the wrong direction and fails to address root causes,” Carlsen said.

Resources on Plan Mexico from the Americas Policy Program:

Special Report: A Primer on Plan Mexico

Full report:
Printable PDF:

Resources page on Plan Mexico : :

AFL-CIO Letter opposing the Merida Initiative:

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