Monday, March 8, 2010

Merida Initiative Needs Evaluation?

‘Mexico faces an arduous, long fight’
Engel says Merida Initiative has to be reevaluated.


 
Washington DC - The Mexican government faces an “arduous and prolonged fight” against drug traffickers, and it would be hasty to declare their strategy “ a failure,” Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the news agency Efe on Thursday.

“It is an arduous and prolonged fight… I would not call it a failure yet, it is something difficult, and these drug cartels are fighting to the death and will, unfortunately, use everything within their means,” Engel said.

The congressman added that the Merida Initiative, a three-year long anti-drug plan with an investment of $1.4 billion, has to be reevaluated “in a year or two, to assess if it is the right way to go.”

Engel, who is well aware of the discontent of the Mexican population in regards to the increasing drug-related violence, defended the efforts of the government of President Felipe Calderón because, in his opinion, “he has invested a substantial amount of capital” in fighting drug trafficking.

According to Engel, President Calderón “is doing his best to prove to the drug cartels that they cannot try to take control of the country. I believe that we cannot judge his success immediately. This is something that will take time, but I do believe that the United States should give Mexico all possible support.”

Furthermore, he expressed his admiration for President Calderón and insisted that the Merida Initiative “needs time” because “it is a difficult fight, but I think we are making progress and I hope that we win, there is no other option than winning.”

It is estimated that there have been approximately 17,900 deaths associated with drug trafficking since President Calderón launched a military offensive against the cartels in Dec. 2006.

Engel reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining funds for the Merida Initiative during the fiscal year 2011. He also aims to provide Mexico and Central America with training, equipment, and technical and intelligence assistance for the battle.

In fiscal year 2011, President Barack Obama requested $410 million from Congress for the Merida Initiative, of which $310 million will be destined for Mexico and the rest for Central America.

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