Friday, August 01, 2008

Merida Initiative

On June 8 the San Antonio Express News published an article "U.S. lawmakers to review Mexico aid terms." The article detailed the Mexican governments objections to the Merida Initiative and the language regarding human rights. Research Associate Michael Katz prepared submitted the following letter to the editor in response to the article.

The Mexican government has every right to question the specifics of the United States anti-drug plan, but their objections regarding human rights stipulations might be misguided and counterproductive (“U.S. lawmakers to review Mexico aid terms,” June 8). Prioritizing human rights in the pending $1.4 billion US aid package to the Calderon administration needs to send an urgent message to Latin America, emphasizing Washington’s pledged commitment to protecting the basic rights of civilians and pursuing human rights violators. Past Latin American anti-drug initiatives, including the infamous Plan Colombia in 2000, demonstrated the ill effects that lax human rights policies can have on the well being of civilians of the recipient nation. Mexican officials who claim that a human rights clause in the pending legislation infringes on their sovereignty must carefully assess the dangers of a plan devoid of such stipulations. The US is not trying to infringe on Mexico’s sovereignty, as much as it is trying to learn from past mistakes, while still strengthening its human rights rhetoric in an effort to create a policy that stresses oversight and accountability. The United States should be lauded for refusing to compromise its strong position on human rights.

Michael Katz

Research Associate

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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