May 7, 2009

Mexican Civil Society and NGOs Speak Out Against US Militarization

Monica Wooters

On May 6, 67 Mexican human rights organizations (all non-governmental organizations) along with several other Mexican organizations and individuals, made a call to end US support to the Mexican military in the war on drugs. The letter was addressed to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Sen. Judd Greg (R-NH) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) as well as Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Rep. David R. Obey (D-WI) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and interim ambassador to Mexico, Leslie Basset.

The letter come following the approval of 2009 appropriations for the controversial three year Merida Initiative which provides US funds to aid Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s war on drugs and just as new talks begin in Congress to nearly double those funds through the FY09 Appropriations Supplemental Request. The signatories cite major human rights violations perpetrated by the Mexican military as it has taken on the drug cartels, a role that is normally performed by the police forces. The letter states:
The deployment of the Mexican Army to carry out public security tasks that legally correspond to the civilian police has brought with it a significant increase in human rights violations in the last two years, including extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary detentions and rape. In fact, the number of complaints for human rights violations committed by members of the armed forces registered by the National Human Rights Commission has increased six-fold during the last two years, reaching 1,230 in 2008.”
The letter also refers to the responsibility of the US government:

“We respectfully request that the U.S. Congress and Department of State, in both the Merida Initiative as in other programs to support public security in Mexico, does not allocate funds or direct programs to the armed forces. We believe that a change of paradigm is needed.”
Specifically mentioned root causes of the problem include inequality as well as lack of access to education and job opportunities.

Appropriations for the Merida Initiative in 2010 will be discussed in Congress shortly. Human rights groups in the United States and Mexico divided over support for the Merida Initiative in discussions following the George Bush’s announcement of the plan in October of 2007. This letter nearly two years later expressing unified opposition to the Initiative is a big step forward in the fight against further militarization from the Mexican civil society.

For further analysis of the Merida Initiative:

A Primer on Plan Mexico

Plan Mexico: Uphill battle will continue against failed model

Resources on Plan Mexico (Merida Initiative)

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