Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has delayed the release of more than $100 million in U.S. aid to Mexico to combat drug cartels and the violence they perpetuate.
Mexico has yet to meet the requirements necessary to receive the aid money, in particular the prosecution of police and military officers who violate basic human rights, Leahy said.
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, more than 10,000 people have dies at the hands of drug cartel assassins. The $1.4 billion, three-year program, also known as the Merida Initiative, is solely dedicated to cease the violence in the between the cartel and Mexican civilians and officials.
The Merida Initiative from the U.S. was created to help Mexico to counter narcotic smuggling through the ports, beef up airport security and technology as well as strengthening of law enforcement agencies, repots CNN.
“There needs to be evidence that the military is accountable to the rule of law,” Leahy said. “Those requirements have not been met, so it is premature to send the report to Congress. We had good-faith discussions with Mexican and U.S. officials in reaching these requirements in the law, and I hope we can continue in that spirit.”
Mexican government has often been accused of abusing their power when dealing with the cartels.
“While this is important for our own domestic political agenda, it does not fall on our strategic partner, the United States, to make any sort of certification process,” Congressman Cristian Castano, of Calderon’s National Action Party, told reporters.
Mexican Sen. Carlos Jimenez of the Institutional Revolutionary Party said, “We must face this together, without recriminations, without putting each other against the wall, because then it ceases to be a friendly cooperation.”
Prior to Leahy delaying the release of the report, the Sate Department will enforce and inspect all regulations needed for the aid.
“I do think that President Calderon has taken some very courageous steps in fighting back against this scourge of the drug cartels which have terrorized the Mexican people and have attacked Mexican law enforcement personnel,” State Department Ian Kelly said in a briefing last month. “And he’s consistently made clear that he will take allegations of human rights abuses very seriously, particularly by members of his security forces.”
Mexico has endured a massive upsurge in violence stemming from drug cartel territory battles and between cartels and authorities.
Calderon has made fighting the cartels one of his top priorities, and has placed more than 45,000 soldiers throughout the country to abolish poorly paid and often corrupt police forces.
“I continue to support the goals of the Merida Initiative, but the military strategy alone is not a solution in the long term nor is it yet clear what it can achieve in the short term,” Leahy said. “Mexico needs effective police forces and a justice system that works. And as long as the demand for drugs in the United States and the flow of guns to Mexico continue at these levels, it will be difficult to neutralize the cartels.”