December 9, 2013
The Texas Tribune, 12/9/2013
Criticism of the Mérida Initiative wasn’t on Alejandro Matamoros’ mind recently when he spoke about his passion for teaching how to mix hip-hop tracks and how it helps his at-risk students express how they view Mexico after years of bloodshed.
And controversy surrounding the estimated $1.5 billion aid package from the U.S. to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean wasn’t evident during an after-school program in this city’s Felipes Angeles colonia. The children here squealed in delight during dance lessons, where the featured music was a Chipmunks-like rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
October 21, 2013
The Economist, 10/19/2013
Troubled by the bloody image this gave Mexico, Mr Peña has adopted a new approach since taking over in December. Its most eye-catching element is to pour 118 billion pesos ($9.1 billion) into the 220 most violent neighbourhoods in the country, offering more schooling, jobs, parks and cultural activities to stop them becoming “crime factories”. Footballers have joined in, providing soccer camps to slum kids who might otherwise want to become hired guns.
These are not new ideas. Efforts to mend the torn social fabric in the most crime-ridden cities, like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, started under Mr Calderón. Mr Peña has given them greater impetus, yet even his government recognises that they will not yield a quick pay-off. Meanwhile, it is under pressure to produce a coherent law-enforcement plan in a country where, according even to official statistics, almost nine out of ten crimes go unreported. Policing is a particular concern. “They are still in reactive mode. If there is a plan to go after drug-traffickers, it’s being kept super-secret,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a crime analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
August 29, 2013
The Heritage Foundation (The Foundry Blog), 08/28/2013
According to recent reports, the U.S. is in talks with Mexico to strengthen security along Mexico’s southern border. The effort reportedly includes a three-level security system for Mexico’s border with Belize and Guatemala to stop human trafficking, drug running, and other gang-related activity.
Stopping such activities is critical to not just Mexican security but also the U.S.’s. As the only southern neighbor with a land border with the U.S., Mexico serves as conduit for trade but also for the illicit flow of drugs and humans and other criminal objectives. Partnering with Mexico to enhance their security efforts would have several beneficial results.
April 23, 2013
On the eve of President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico next week, the new government there looks to reboot a joint effort to combat violent drug traffickers, worries about piecemeal efforts in the United States to legalize marijuana and hopes to rebuild frayed relations with Cuba.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade also said the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party wouldn’t mean a reversal of his country’s willingness to extradite nationals wanted in the United States. “There is no plan to change the way that extraditions have been working,” said Meade, a Yale-educated economist who served as Mexico’s finance secretary before the change of administration in December. He spoke to McClatchy at the Mexican Embassy in Washington in advance of Obama’s trip to Mexico City on May 2.
January 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 1/27/2013
There are plenty of reasons right here at home to support President Obama’s effort to reform the nation’s gun laws. But if Congress requires additional arguments, it should consider that easy access to guns is also undermining the United States’ avowed goal of combating drug trafficking and transnational gangs abroad.
The U.S. has sent nearly $2 billion in aid to Mexico since 2007, much of that as part of the Merida Initiative, a counter-narcotics program designed to provide aid and equipment for that country’s drug war. Yet that assistance has been undermined by lax U.S. gun laws, which allow members of the drug cartels and their associates to buy weapons here and smuggle them across the border. At least 68,000 of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 — and probably quite a lot more — came from the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
September 18, 2012
The Wall Street Journal, 9/17/12
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…
Despite the collaboration, one reality can’t be avoided when the leaders meet Tuesday: Mexico still has a long way to go in this second phase of the drug war.
Eric L. Olson, a Mexico expert at Washington think-tank the Wilson Center went to an oral trial in Morelos, one of the first adopters of the new system, and says the hearings reached an awkward moment where a judge was scolding the attorneys for wanting to read from sheets rather than argue properly.
Mr. Olson says the proceedings were a step in the right direction, even if there are missteps. Still, he says: “Both sides have always had difficulty defining what the criteria for success are,” he says. “That has not happened yet.”
August 29, 2012
The New York Times, 8/28/12
The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday.
The two operatives, who were hurt on Friday, were participating in a training program that involved the Mexican Navy. They were traveling with a Mexican Navy captain in an embassy sport utility vehicle that had diplomatic license plates, heading toward a military shooting range 35 miles south of the capital when gunmen, some or all of them from the Federal Police, attacked the vehicle, Mexican officials have said.
Eric Olson, an expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s MexicoInstitute in Washington, said the shooting could only sow some doubts about the police, and at best pointed to a lack of communication among Mexico’s military and the police.
“This seems to suggest there isn’t better communication between the various elements of the Mexican government,” he said. “One fundamental issue is the lack of trust.”