World

Congress Slashes Military Aid To Mexico By 25 Percent

Congress has decided to slash the amount of security aid to Mexico by a remarkable 25 percent from last year, marking the lowest figure since 2011.

Mexico will receive just $146 million for security purposes, as stipulated in a budget bill Congress passed in December. Earlier in 2015, the State Department also decided to hold back $5 million in aid.

The Department of Defense has continued the trend of cutbacks, as well, slowing the flow of funds designated to fight drug trafficking. Back in 2014, the DOD allocated only $45 million to Mexico for that purpose, which is down from $63 million the year previous.

According to a report released by the Washington Office on Latin America, Mexico received just $6.5 million to combat drug trafficking midway through 2015. Further numbers for 2015 are not yet available.

Some experts suspect that the reason for the downward trend in aid lies in Mexico’s poor human rights record and Washington’s declining faith in the Mexican military. Another potential reason is that Obama administration has moved away from the drug war, preferring instead to publicly emphasize the need for rehabilitation and other harm reduction strategies.

Congress has sent over a total of $2.5 billion since 2008 for the implementation of a security pact called the Merida Initiative. Mexican authorities have relied on the pact and subsequent funding to purchase military gear to fight cartels. Although the Mexican government has cracked down hard on cartels beginning in 2006, the government appears to suffer continual infiltration and leveraging by dedicated cartel members, leading to massive cover-ups and cooperation with organized crime.

Internal U.S. government reports from 2010 state that Los Zetas, a local cartel, has “longstanding and widespread [influence] throughout local and state government.” The same report found that local security forces were so compromised that they couldn’t touch Los Zetas. Additionally, one of the central counter-narcotics officials in Mexico was under the influence of Zetas, and the U.S. knew it and decided to do nothing. During that same year, kidnappings and killings executed by Los Zetas went uninvestigated, despite the government receiving numerous complaints. Mexican security forces sat on the sidelines. It took until January of 2014 for authorities to finally search for the bodies, finding mass graves.

Yet, U.S. officials generally hold off criticizing the country in public to maintain good ties.

Connections between organized crime and the Mexican government have prompted some members of Congress, like Sen. Patrick Leahy, to call for the withholding of aid for counter-drug efforts because of a poor human rights record.

For whatever reason, U.S. government organizations are starting to withdraw assistance from Mexico, sending a clear message.

As Robert Naiman, policy director of Just Foreign Policy, told The Huffington Post, “By Washington’s standards, that’s a pretty big slap on the wrist.”

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