Silvia Otero | El Universal
About 70 Mexican and U.S. officials will work on projects to combat lawlessness and organized crime
Operations started today in Mexico City for the Bilateral Monitoring Bureau of the Merida Initiative (Oficina Bilateral de Seguimiento-OBS), a group of about 70 Mexican and U.S. officials who will work jointly in the same venue for the exchange of information on projects pertaining to the fight against lawlessness and organized crime.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) announced the opening of this office, whose location was not disclosed for security reasons, and made clear that U.S. officials shall not engage in direct intelligence or operational work, consistent with laws defending the sovereignty of Mexico.
It explained that "follow-up to the announcement in March 2009 by Chancellor Patricia Espinosa, and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, today began operations Bilateral Monitoring Bureau of the Merida Initiative."
The OBS was opened by the SRE Undersecretary for North America, Julian Ventura Valero, and the U.S. State Department Undersecretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, David Johnson.
In its first communiqué, the OBS highlighted “The OBS is the first exercise of this nature by both governments to co-ordinate the daily exchange of information between technical representatives of the both countries, in order to ensure full implementation of training programs and the transfer and procurement of equipment as called for under terms of the Mérida Imitiative.”
“The commencement of operations of the OBS reflects the level of confidence, strength and depth reached through bilateral relations to combat transnational organized crime, building on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust and respect for their respective jurisdictions.”
The communiqué stressed that "this novel mechanism of permanent consultations facilitate the implementation of the mandate from the most recent meeting of the High Level Group of the Merida Initiative, which was held on March 23, consisting of programs that include undermining the operational capabilities of criminal organizations, strengthening the institutions responsible for combating them, and consolidating a secure common border with socio-economic programs that contribute to the welfare of communities on both sides of the border.”