U.S. Aid Delays in Drug War Criticized

Washington Post, 4/5/2009

mexican-armyAfter promising $1.4 billion last year under a landmark initiative to help fight drug trafficking in Mexico, the U.S. government has spent almost none of the money, fanning criticism on both sides of the border that the United States is failing to respond quickly to the deepening crisis.

A closer examination shows that just two small projects under Merida — the delivery of high-speed computer servers in December and an arms-trafficking workshop attended by senior U.S. officials at a Mexican resort last week — have been completed.

U.S. officials acknowledged that about $7 million from the aid package has been spent — mostly on administration and planning. The most critical items, a $50 million surveillance plane and five rapid-response helicopters, may take as long as two years to deliver.

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State Dept. Cites ‘Large Firefights’ in Travel Alert on Mexico

Washington Post, 2/21/2009

department-of-state-logoThe latest travel advisory for Mexico from the U.S. State Department will certainly not please the tourist board. Rather than a glossy brochure advertising the country’s many delights, the travel alert issued Friday reads like the plot of a crime thriller.

Recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades,” the advisory reads.

Tourism is one of Mexico’s main sources of income, and the country that sends the most tourists to Mexico is the United States.

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Make passport plans now for Mexico and Canada trips

Los Angeles Times, 2/8/2009

passportIf you’re traveling outside the U.S. this year, here are two pieces of advice: Get or renew your passport now, and think twice before planning a car trip to Mexico or Canada in June.

Although passport demand has recently fallen along with wait times, and the State Department has ramped up staffing and facilities since 2007, the upcoming change will affect far more Americans than the 2007 rules change.

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