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Thanks, but no thanks

24 May 2008

I wrote earlier on the outrage in Mexico over the United States Senate’s conditions attached to “Plan Merida” funding. The plan obviously was meant to subsidize U.S. suppliers of military hardware and training, and the Senate – perhaps with good intentions – added “human rights” conditions that turned out to be unacceptable to the Mexicans. Not because the Mexicans are opposed to human rights, per se, but because it would have given the country that invaded Mexico three times (and has interfered in their internal affairs consistently since 1824) access to sensitive national security data like military personnel records.  With this high level PGR (Attorney General’s Office) official weighing in, it appears the Calderon Administration is — like the Mexican left — going to tell the United States to forget it.

This article appeared in Jornada, 24 May 24, 2008 (my translation):

Mexico, DF. Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, Deputy Attorney General for Internatinal Affairs, said that money the United States government proposed sending to Mexico under the so-called “Merida Plan” might be better spent bolstering that country’s Customs’ Service and Border Patrol, to be used to prevent arms trafficking from entering Mexico.

In a radio interview, the high level Federal Justice Department official said that 97 percent of the arsenal used by organized crime groups in Mexico originated with our neighbors to the north.

Santiago Vasconcelos said that the conditions established by the United States Senate for release of the 350 million dollars for anti-narcotics activities in Mexico, required judicial reforms and transparency requirements that “seem a step backwards with respect to our relations with the United States in the matter of illicit drug traffic control, in that they involve unilateral certification. It is up to the Mexican State to accept or reject the funding and, if we accept it, we need to define the terms and conditions.”

The federal civil servant assured that “the initiative is nothing more than a political recognition and a commitment on the part of the North American government to fight the violence in our country, a change from the technology they originally offered Mexico.”

He warned that “overnight, drug trafficking has led to global levels of violence within Mexico. In the Eighties, we did not have a drug problem, and the consumption level was very small. What we are living through now is our lack of foresight then

He added that the most efficient way to combat the problem was more cooperation, in enforcement and, especially, in intelligence

Finally, the assistant attorney general assured that the PGR (Federal Attorney General’s Office) has undertaken a tough job and has had positive results, handicapping the amount of cocaine in the market. As a result, pure cocaine is being replaced in the market by mixtures that are unhealthy for the consumer.

He also added that since the beginning of the present Presidential term, 129 important criminal gang leaders have been extradited: 123 to the United States and the rest to Latin America.

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