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Promises, promises…

25 October 2008

Under-reported in the whole “War on (some) drugs” story is the salient fact that Mexico has never received the funding the U.S. was supposed to release to pay for the equipment and training Mexico was going to buy from U.S. companies.

Radio Netherlands reports that Condaleeza Rice, at her ballyhooed meeting with her Mexican counterpart, Patricio Espinoza is still saying “manaña”:

In June, the US Congress promised 465 million dollars for the war on drugs in Mexico. The so-called Merida Initiative is intended to help the Mexican government train drug agents and purchase various items of drug-detection equipment. These include scanners, helicopters and surveillance aircraft. Mexican President Felipe Calderón is asking Washington to make the funds available as soon as possible. Ms Rice would give no guarantees but did say that Washington is likely to make the payment soon.

Calderon may find himself in the same situation as Vicente Fox, who was promised all kinds of things by George W. Bush at the start of his administration — only to find his credibility shredded by believing the Bush Administration.

Now, Rice is talking about a “high-level summit” on narcotics next month. I’m not sure I see any point to such a meeting. No matter who wins the U.S. election, the U.S. policies (and the insistence that the Mexicans keep “fighting” to keep U.S. supplies low) is likely to change. A summit at this point would simply lock in the existing, failed policies, and no guarantee that the money ever will reach Mexico.

Mexicans show little or no enthuasm for either McCain or Obama, and it’s no wonder.  Neither has said much about the country (if anything), and both assume their interference in Mexico’s internal affairs are acceptable.  Perhaps the best thing for Mexico would be if the Merida Plan is dropped, but I don’t see it happening.

No change would be expected under a McCain presidency, though perhaps there would be less tendency to proclaim projects that aren’t going to be followed through on.  Obama’s high-sounding “A New Partnership for the Americas” is only a campaign document, and won’t necessarily translate into anything.  Even if it does, it offers little more than increased U.S. “assistance” designed to benefit U.S. financial interests.  Or military ones.  There is little reason to expect the United States will undo the  “Clinton Doctrine”, under which the United States defines its economic needs as justification for political and military interference in other nations.

One hopes nothing will happen at the proposed summit that commits the U.S. and Mexico to any particular course of action at this point.  An Obama presidency might even make matters worse when it comes to Plan Merida… which would probably still be funded, simply for the political reason that the new adminsitration can’t afford to be “soft on drugs” and the vice-president, Joe Biden, will be has always supported these kinds of foreign “assistance” programs.

There is an assumption that the Democratic Party will insist on “human rights guarantees” in the Plan Merida funding… which really does nothing for Mexican human rights, but does seriously breach Mexican national security, making the United States privy to Mexican police and security forces personnel records.  Worse, on a social level, it means the police are more likely to be national police, without ties to our communities.  Abuses might get the attention of the foreign financier, but they’ll be as statistical data, and subject to political use and posturing over a “war on drugs”.  In other words — even if there are complaints (which will be much harder to prove, when the abuser is from an out-of-town unit), these complaints will only be one factor in a political decision of little immediate impact to the people in charge.  We’ll be nothing but rhetorical tropes in some congressional hearing, not flesh and blood people who matter (and who do not vote in the United States).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Byron permalink
    25 October 2008 5:15 pm

    Very well said. Forget the Merida initiative if it comes with too many strings attached especially human rights criteria.

    Enough of the eternal war on drugs.

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