The Merida Initiative is the project through which the United States teaches its southern neighbor how to wage local wars against drug lords. The initiative is modeled after the Plan Colombia, which has send billions to the U.S. South American ally but has actually failed to stall the underground market that, as Sanho Tree’s column indicates, now sees Colombia as the origin of 97% of the cocaine produced in the United States.
The federal government can save some real dough by cutting the funding to this ill conceived program that has done nothing to curb drug cartels in Mexico.
According to the Congressional Research Service, programs related to the Merida Initiative have given $1.5 billion between 2008 and 2010 (pdf). The administration requested $310 million in the currently stalled FY 2011 budget and $289.8 to be discussed for 2012. Mexico uses a great deal of the money it receives to buy U.S.-made equipment like military helicopters and arms. While the U.S. also funds a wall to seal the border from undocumented workers, the military industrial complex and the traffic of illicit arms is transnational.
This unfair system makes us wonder why U.S. tax payers must fund this war in Mexico. It is particularly outrageous when Mexico’s billionaires have increased their fortunes dramatically despite the fact that millions have engrossed the ranks of poverty in the last years. Carlos Slim increased his fortune approximately $20 billion (yes billions!) in 2010 alone.
The drug war in Mexico has left 36,000 dead so far, including 1,000 minors. The governments in both countries must shift their approach in relation to drugs by accepting that drug use is a public health issue, moving towards decriminalization, withdrawing the military from the streets, strengthening Mexico’s judicial and police systems, stemming the flows of illicit arms and money and stopping our entanglement in the corrupt politics of government aid for military purposes.