Aug 17, 2011

Merida Initiative Leader Announces Change in Focus

Here is today's press conference statement by Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary, Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, held at the U.S. Consulate General, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, August 17, 2011. As he states, he is the State Department officer "responsible for supporting " the Merida Initiative. He was ambassador to Columbia from 2007 (under George W. Bush) to 2010, when he was appointed to this position.

Note that Ambassador Brownfield also says that the U.S. and Mexico will win this war "for a very simple reason ... we cannot lose." He then states essentially the same reason for not "losing" the drug war that was put forth by the initial drug warriors. William Bennett, drug czar under Bush I, in the 1980's said,"The simple fact is that drug use is wrong. And the moral argument, in the end, is the most compelling argument. A citizen in a drug-induced haze… is not what the founding fathers meant by the ‘pursuit of happiness’.... [O]ur nation’s notion of liberty is rooted in the ideal of a ‘self-reliant citizenry’. The war against drugs is primarily motivated…by the intrinsically destructive nature of drugs and the toll they exact from our society."

Press Conference: "I am the officer, the official from the United States government responsible for supporting the Government of the United States in this process of Merida, in our collaboration on counternarcotics and police and law enforcement between Mexico and the United States.

We began this process with a shared analysis between the two countries, between the two governments and two peoples, that this is a shared threat we face. Mexico and the United States have a shared responsibility between the two federal and state governments of both countries and with many of the mayors and municipal governments or governors of the two countries. We are partners in the logical way of two governments that accept a shared responsibility. During my meetings today in Juarez, and I confess that I have had meetings with municipal authorities, with officials from the state government of Chihuahua, and later today with officials from the federal government.

In each one of these meetings we have spoken of or will speak of a transition process of the Merida Initiative. A transition from the last three years when the partnership was almost entirely at the federal level--of federal institutions with federal institutions--to a new partnership for the coming years at the state and municipal level. We accept the reality in Mexico, as well as in the United States, that 90% of the police, 90% of trials, 90% of prosecutors, of courts, exist in the state and municipal institutions and not in the federal institutions.

... I believe that this process of collaboration under the Merida Initiative will eventually succeed because of a very simple reason for Mexico as well as for the United States: We cannot lose, because if we lose we will say to the generations that come after us “you are condemned to live in a disgusting and repulsive world,” and that's a conversation I do not want to have with my children or grandchildren in years to come."

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