Sunday, August 1, 2010

Narco News US Congress Approves More Funding for Plan Mexico

US Congress Approves More Funding for Plan Mexico
Afghan War Spending Bill Also Includes Another $175 Million For Mexican Drug War

By Fernando León and Erin Rosa
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

July 29, 2010

A measure passed by Congress to provide emergency funding for the war in Afghanistan is also being used by US lawmakers to pump an additional $175 million into Mexico to support the drug war this year. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a budgetary bill referred to as the 2010 supplemental appropriations act, which along with providing $60 billion to war efforts in Afghanistan also allocates more funds to “international narcotics control and law enforcement” in Mexico.

The money will be overseen by the State Department and go towards “judicial reform, institution building, anti-corruption, and rule of law activities” in Mexico until September 30, 2012, according to a text of the bill provided by the Library of Congress. With the Senate having already passed the appropriations bill, the measure will now go to President Barack Obama for approval.

Generally, supplemental appropriations bills are used by lawmakers to add funds to the current budget of the United States for emergencies, war funding, or natural disasters. But the recent measure is also being used to boost the State Department’s Mérida Initiative (Plan Mexico), a 2008 security pact in which the United States provides training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and the armed forces to wage the drug war. In addition to the $175 million, the department is currently requesting $450 million in taxpayer money this year to fund the Mérida Initiative.

This isn’t the first time US lawmakers have used supplemental appropriation bills to drive more money to the drug war in Mexico. According to government records, in 2009 Congress gave $160 million to the State Department for the same reason as stated in the bill passed this week: to promote “judicial reform,” “institution building,” and “anti-corruption” activities. In 2008, the funds were $73.5 million, for the same reasons.

But not only has the initiative failed to stop corruption within Mexican law enforcement, it has also failed to provide any accountability on human rights, especially in relation to the armed forces in the country. In fact, just this week it was revealed that there have been more human rights complaints filed against the military during Mexican head-of-state Felipe Calderón’s administration than ever before. And even with 4,035 complaints logged since 2006, only 56 members of the military have ever been reprimanded since that time, by the government’s own admission.

On top of that, the Government Accountability Office, the investigatory body for Congress, found in a report last week that State Department doesn’t even have clear way in which to measure the success of Mérida Initiative in fighting drugs trafficking. And in Mexico, ever since the initiative was implemented in 2008 more and more people continue to die as a result of the drug war.

However, even though Mexico has failed to comply with basic human rights provisions contained within the legislative language of the Mérida Initiative, the State Department continues to champion the program—all while an estimated 25,000 people have been killed from drug war violence since Calderón declared war against drug trafficking groups in 2007.
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