11/23/2015 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

An article by Eric Olson

protests by Edu-TouristThe recent decision by the U.S. Department of State to transfer roughly $5 million in security and counter-narcotics assistance from its Mexico counter-narcotics budget to its Peruvian budget raised eyebrows in Mexico City and Washington. The amount wasn’t the issue, as $5 million is just a fraction (15 percent) of U.S. counter-narcotics assistance to Mexico, and an even smaller proportion when compared to Mexico’s overall security budget. What was surprising was the basis for the decision – essentially the State Department’s determination that it could not, as required by law, report to Congress that Mexico was making sufficient progress on a range of human rights criteria.

U.S. security assistance to Mexico, usually packaged as the Merida Initiative, contains a provision governing human rights conditionality that is slightly different than that of traditional conditionality. Strictly speaking, Mexico is not subject to a traditional certification process. The U.S. funding language simply requires that the Department of State report to Congress on progress made on serious human rights cases. It then is up to Congress to decide whether to freeze the affected money. While the difference between a “report to Congress” and “certifying to Congress” progress on human rights cases may seem minor, it is deemed important because of Mexico’s sensitivities to being “certified” by another country, especially the United States.

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U.S. blocks some anti-drug funds for Mexico over human rights concerns

10/18/2015 The Washington Post

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

In a setback for its multibillion-dollar effort to help Mexico fight its drug war, the U.S. State Department has decided that Mexico failed to reach some human rights goals, triggering a cutoff of millions of dollars in aid.

The move, which has not been reported previously, affects a small portion of the annual anti-drug funds given to Mexico. But it is a clear sign of U.S. frustration. It comes as Mexico has been roiled by several cases of alleged abuses by security forces, including the disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero last year.

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Will Obama provide Mexico’s besieged president a much-needed lifeline?

1/6/2015 The Christian Science Monitor

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoWhen President Enrique Peña Nieto sits down with US President Obama on Tuesday, the scandal-plagued Mexican leader will be under intense pressure to ensure that their discussion – which will touch on security, immigration, trade, and economic issues – produces tangible results.

Both Mexicans and the international community originally expected Mr. Peña Nieto to bring much-needed change to Mexico. But that image has been dramatically undercut by outrage over the poor handling of a case in which 43 students went missing after being handed over to police, as well as several recent political scandals. Now, Mexicans are watching to see if he can work effectively with his powerful northern neighbor in a way that could compensate for his growing political and economic woes.

“It seems like now would be the right moment to double down on those goals that were introduced in the Merida Initiative,” says Christopher Wilson, a senior associate with the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, noting that the initiative, which was originally negotiated between former presidents Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush, has yet to be formally updated by Peña Nieto.

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Plan Mérida: Vital para EE.UU. y México

1/7/2015 Voz de América

Interview with Christopher Wilson

obama_nieto_featureLos presidentes de Estados Unidos y México coincidieron en afirmar la necesidad de fortalecer sus relaciones en el marco de temas como seguridad, inmigración y comercio.

En un análisis de la reunión que sostuvieron los mandatarios Barack Obama y Enrique Peña Nieto en la Casa Blanca, el experto asociado del Instituto México del Centro de Pensamiento Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Wilsondijo en entrevista con la Voz de América que ambos países reconocen la importancia de su cooperación y buscan extenderla.

“Uno de los aspectos más importantes para la seguridad se apoya en la Iniciativa Mérida y ese es el punto que requiere del mayor fortalecimiento porque las dos naciones reconocen que es un mecanismo efectivo”, dijo Wilson.

Read more and listen to the interview here…

Supporters of Mérida cite successes from aid package

Mexican engineersThe 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.”

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Out of sight, not out of mind

The Economist, 10/19/2013

Ttijuana-hillside1roubled 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.

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Cooperation with Mexico: Key to Border Security and Stopping Transnational Crime

shutterstock_91867121The 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.

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