Sep 20, 2012

U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight

On Tuesday, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Mexican Chancellor Patricia Espinosa in the fourth meeting of the High-Level Consultative Group on the Merida Initiative. The meeting was used to endorse the relationship between the two countries, and recommend the new Mexican  presidency to continue the strategy against transnational organized crime. This article below, published before their meeting, highlights changes in this U.S.-Mexico strategy over time, however, toward strengthening institutions of justice. 

Wall Street Journal. Sept. 17, 2012. By Nicholas Casey. MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

The Merida Initiative, the U.S.'s $1.9 billion assistance program to Mexico, began mostly as a means to buy military hardware like Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico. But over the past two years, it has entered a new phase, in which purchases for the Mexican military are taking a back seat to measures to mend the branches of Mexico's civilian government.

The former director of Colorado's penitentiary system has trained more than 5,000 Mexican prison officials in recent years. Mexican jurists are running mock trials with visiting American judges to prepare for a transition to oral hearings that will replace Mexico's enigmatic closed-door meetings where sentences are handed down.

"Different things have come to the fore at different times, but strengthening the rule of law in Mexico is the area that's crucial right now," says Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S. Read more.

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