Mexico Institute Senior Advisor, Eric Olson is the guest for part three of the series, “Charting a New Course.” In this episode we focus on the policy of shared responsibility between the U.S. and Mexico regarding security relations. How has the Merida Initiative evolved and does it still provide the appropriate framework for security cooperation? That question and others provides the focus for this edition of Wilson Center NOW.
The election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States opens a new era in U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. With the new Trump administration, the security relationship is likely to undergo further review and modification. Whether the framework of “shared responsibility” that has guided security cooperation between both nations will be deepened and strengthened, as it has been over the past decade, or is completely overhauled is still unclear. This paper seeks to place the security relationship in its most recent historical context and reviews how the bilateral security cooperation framework has evolved and deepened beyond the original “Mérida Initiative” set out by Presidents George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
“The Evolving Merida Initiative and the Policy of Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations,” was written by Eric L. Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program and Senior Advisor on Security to the Mexico Institute. In the policy brief, the author provides a series of policy options for building on and improving the U.S.-Mexico security relationship.
This policy brief is the second of our series “Charting a New Course: Policy Options for the Next Stage in U.S.-Mexico Relations.” The policy briefs will be released individually and published as a volume in the spring of 2017.
10/07/16 Los Angeles Times
The Obama administration wants to restore financial aid to Mexico that it cut last year to protest the country’s human rights record, even though abuses have continued, officials said Thursday.
Last year, the State Department cut about $5 million in aid to Mexico, part of a broader package allocated under the so-called Merida Initiative that was generally aimed at fighting a drug war.
The money was withheld because U.S. officials said Mexico had not lived up to its commitments to investigate egregious atrocities, including the kidnapping and apparent killing of 43 college students by local authorities in September 2014.
11/23/2015 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
An article by Eric Olson
The 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.
10/18/2015 The Washington Post
MEXICO CITY — 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.
1/6/2015 The Christian Science Monitor
When 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.
1/7/2015 Voz de América
Interview with Christopher Wilson
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 Wilson, dijo 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.