U.S. and Mexican Officials Refocus Drug War Tactics; New Strategy Will Expand on Merida Initiative

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Officials from the United States and Mexico held high-level talks Tuesday in Mexico City focused on setting up a counter-narcotics strategy that aims to strengthen local law enforcement and rebuild communities affected by drug violence and poverty.

The plan is estimated to cost $331 million and was the centerpiece of the visit by high ranking members of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“This effort is grounded in a shared responsibility to protect our people and promote good governance, the rule of law and human rights,” Clinton said, according to the New York Times.

The revised strategy is an expansion of the Merida Initiative, a plan implemented three years ago under the Bush Administration. Some of the shared tactics between the Merida Initiative and the new plan include cooperation between Mexican and American intelligence officials and American training of some Mexican law enforcement and legal officials.

However, the new strategy refocused efforts on border security, strengthening communities along the border, and in a drastic change from the previous plan moved away from providing military assistance.

The majority of the $1.3 billion in the Merida Initiative went into purchasing aircraft and information technology for the Mexico, while the new plan calls for no military purchases.

The new strategy will launch in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, where three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate there were recently murdered. The city plagued by violence related to the drug trade and a main focus point of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s war on drugs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged the central role of the U.S. in generating drug war violence. “We know that the demand for drugs drives much of this illicit trade and that guns purchases in the U.S. are used to facilitate violence here in Mexico,” Hillary Clinton said in a press conference after the meeting.

The Obama administration will soon unveil a new drug policy that will aim to reduce U.S. demand, but does not include decriminalization, Clinton said.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

North America

Caribbean

Central America

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  • The Nicaraguan embassy refused to cooperate in a probe by the Costa Rican government into the alleged illegal transport and use of diplomatic vehicles.

Andes

Southern Cone

Image: Nrbelex @ Flickr.

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