Beto O’Rourke, running on the Democratic platform for the House in the Texas district that includes El Paso has spoken out against Merida. For one, O’Rourke said Mexico isn’t keeping up their end of the bargain. Millions in U.S. funds have been allocated to Mexico despite a clause in Merida that requires all human rights violations to be investigated and suspected violators tried.
According to the “World Report 2012: Mexico” released by the non-profit Human Rights Watch, the Mexican military, which has been empowered by Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon to fight the cartels and enforce laws, has “committed serious human rights violations including killings, torture, and enforced disappearances.”
From 2007 through October 2011, more than 5,800 complaints have been filed with Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission against the military. Only 15 soldiers have been convicted.
It is in America’s best interest to invest in a secure and safer Mexico, that’s according to Will Ostick, U.S. Dept. of State representative for the Western Hemisphere. “Instability exports to the U.S. and comes across our border in unexpected ways such as crime and violence,” he said.
CBS News reported last week that five bodies were found “burned beyond recognition” in a known smuggling corridor near the Arizona border. Some experts on the issue say that while most of the drug-related crime in the U.S. is directed toward rival cartels, just like gang violence, it can put law-abiding citizens at risk.
“The U.S. sees the problems facing Mexico as a shared responsibility,” Ostick said. Narcotics are streaming across our border only because of high U.S. demand “so we have to contribute to helping Mexico combat [the problem].”
Since the program began, the U.S has invested $900 million in Mexico. And for every $1 contributed by the U.S., Ostick said Mexico has contributed $13.
Through Merida, Ostick said, 63,000 Mexicans have been trained in rule of law procedures (police, judicial systems, prosecutors); 21 U.S. aircraft have been transferred to Mexico; and 22 of the most wanted criminals have been extradited to the U.S. for prosecution.
While official numbers are not yet available, according to Ostick, the U.S. will invest approximately $281 million this year in Merida.
The war on drugs in Mexico has claimed thousands of Mexican lives. Some reports put that number at 50,000 over the last five years; 12,000 in 2011.
With 63 percent of the approximately 50 million Hispanics in the U.S. identifying themselves as Mexican, discussions on Merida how to best help our neighbor south of the border are sure to be a topic of discussion in the upcoming presidential.