Assistant Secretary William R. Brownfield Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs today said the Merida Initiative was crafted by U.S. and Mexico govenrments to strengthen Mexico’s institutional capacity to counter crime and enforce the rule of law.
“As a foreign assistance program, the Merida Initiative was not intended to be, nor does it represent, a U.S. operation to counter Mexican drug cartels or criminal actors. Nor was Merida intended as the panacea for the illicit activity that fuels violence in Mexico.” -Mr. Brownfield
He said the successful outcomes from their programming are not often highlighted in the media, but behind the scenes, they have empowered Mexico’s federal authorities to confront drug cartels where they once operated with near impunity.
“When it was launched in 2007, the Merida Initiative aimed to utilize our foreign assistance mechanisms to provide specific equipment and training that the Government of Mexico identified. These resources requirements were designed to endow many of Mexico’s federal authorities with specific tools necessary to confront cartels where they operate and to enable the provision of justice at the federal level.” -Mr. Brownfield
According to Mr. Brownfield, the Merida Initiative is organized around a four pillar strategy that aims to: 1) disrupt the capacity of organized crime to operate; 2) institutionalize reforms to sustain the rule of law and respect for human rights; 3) create a 21st century border; and 4) build strong and resilient communities.
“We are now moving away from big ticket equipment and into an engagement that reinforces progress by further institutionalizing Mexican capacity to sustain adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights, build strong institutions, promote full civil society participation, transform the nature of our borders, and by providing intensive technical assistance and training.” -Mr. Brownfield
He cited that both countries have come a long way since the concept of the Merida Initiative was first introduced. Only one high-level cartel member had been arrested by Mexican authorities from 2003 to late 2009 and the start of Merida programming.
Mr. Brownfield stressed that the initiative has provided training to over 50,000 Mexican Federal police and government officials, provided fourteen helicopters that Mexican authorities use to carry out anti-cartel operations, and other significant equipment to secure information sharing, and counter illicit crime.
“Our assistance has helped to create the foundation of a strong and responsive federal police and security apparatus. The successes are notable. Since December 2009, Merida equipment and capacity building have helped Mexico to remove or arrest 33 high level priority targets, including four of the top seven most wanted criminals designated by the Mexican government.” -Mr. Brownfield