Call to Suspend Aid for Military’s Police Ops
Members of the U.S. Congress called on the secretaries of State and Defense yesterday to conduct a full and public evaluation of military and police aid to Mexico.
“The use of Mexican military forces in the war on drugs has resulted in a dramatic increase in human rights violations, including torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions,” said the 12 Congressional Representatives who signed the letter.
The United States has spent more than a billion dollars in military assistance in Mexico in the last decade, the lawmakers said, yet “studies have shown that deployment of Mexican military forces in law enforcement has led to increases in homicides,” which hit their highest level in history last year.
Last December, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto institutionalized this military approach in an Internal Security Law that permits the army to intervene in criminal investigations and makes information on military operations, including abuses, secret.
Led by Democrat Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the Representatives urged the suspension of any U.S. funding for military forces involved in law enforcement, and a focus instead on investigating and prosecuting human rights violations, advancing the rule of law, and combating corruption.
Next month, Mexico will choose a new Congress, local officials and president. “Whatever the electoral outcome, the United States should take the massive gun exports and warfare out of its policy in Mexico,” said John Lindsay-Poland of Global Exchange, one of six civil society groups that co-sponsored the letter.
“The militarization of drug policy in Mexico is generating violence and greater insecurity for Mexicans and for the Central American migrants who are seeking refuge in Mexico and at the U.S. border. The United States shouldn’t be backing Mexican armed forces that commit these violations with impunity,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino of the Latin America Working Group.
The lawmakers’ appeal came after other Congressional leaders requested the Government Accountability Office to conduct an assessment of the Merida Initiative, a channel for much military and police aid to Mexico during the last decade. The day before the Congressional letter, the Los Angeles Times reported on the Mexican military’s “unease, and even dissent” as “Mexico moves toward what appears to be a permanent use of troops” in the war on drugs.
Co-sponsoring organizations of the letter included: American Friends Service Committee, Global Exchange, Latin America Working Group, Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, Washington Office on Latin America, Witness for Peace.