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
- A rally for comprehensive immigration reform drew tens of thousands to Washington on Sunday.
- Mexicans are skeptical of the Obama administration’s commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
- The bodies of two Mexican law enforcement agents were found in the cut into pieces in the southern state of Guerrero.
- The Inter-American Development Bank announced the cancelation of $479 million of Haitian debt and offered $2 billion in grants over the next decade on Monday. The announcement comes as ex-U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton met with Haitian President René Préval to discuss reconstruction efforts.
- Puerto Rican reggaeton due Calle 13 performed in Havana on Tuesday, attracting a crowd of more than 70,000 according to Cuba’s state press. Some Castro opponents in the Miami exile community protested the performance.
- The Cuban government announced the retirement of 78 year-old Attorney General Juan Escalona Reguera, who leaves his post for health reasons.
- The International Monetary Fund approved a 36-month Stand-By Agreement for El Salvador to help calm the effects of the country’s poor tax revenues.
- The Nicaraguan embassy refused to cooperate in a probe by the Costa Rican government into the alleged illegal transport and use of diplomatic vehicles.
- Ecuador proposed new oil production agreements with foreign companies in an attempt to seek more control over its oil resources.
- FARC guerrillas in Colombia said the group will release Saturday two of the 24 police officers held hostage to Senator Piedad Córdoba and the Red Cross.
- Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested opposition leader Oswaldo Álvarez Paz on charges of conspiracy and other crimes.
- The Dakar Rally will once again return to Argentina and Chile in 2011, after moving to South America from Africa due to fears of terrorism.
- Chile’s peso rose 0.2 percent Tuesday, ending a seven day decline.
- A medical official said that Paraguayan soccer star Salvador Cabanas may never remember what happened the night he was shot in a Mexico City nightclub.
- A British senior Foreign Office official added pressure to Brazil in a UN Security Council vote to support sanctions against Iran and stop support for the country.
- Former Uruguayan dictator Juan María Bordaberry was ordered to appear in court Tuesday to receive a 30 year sentence for forced disappearances, political assassinations and violations of the Uruguayan constitution. (Spanish)
Image: Nrbelex @ Flickr.