State Department Faces Criticism on New Merida Initiative Report

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently made available an unclassified U.S. State Department report on Mexico’s human rights as related to the Merida Initiative. The report comes as a response to section 1406 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-252), and section 7045 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009 (Div. H, P.L. 111-8), two Congressional Appropriations bills that form the funding of the Merida Initiative. Before releasing funds to Mexico’s military and federal police for training, equipment, and armament to support the war on drugs, the State Department is required to certify that Mexico improve transparency and accountability, and address numerous allegations of human rights abuses. In this August report, the State Department has sought to justify the release of these funds, which has led to some criticism from human rights organizations.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) submitted a Memorandum for Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee in the U.S. Senate, in an effort to convince the committee to reject the report and continue withholding Merida Initiative funding. In this memorandum, HRW argues that military human rights abuses are still being ignored by civilian officials, and that this State Department report whitewashes continuing human rights problems in Mexico.

For more in depth coverage of this controversy, see this Narcosphere post, which links to several other resources. Another great resource on the Merida Initiative is the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute Merida Initiative Portal, which offers policy briefs, fact sheets, analysis, and other important resources on Mexican-American security cooperation.

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