By Lucio R for Borderland Beat
|From Tlatlaya extrajudicial killings of 22|
The colossal mess and failure of Mérida
Reforma is reporting the United States has again blocked a portion of funds due to be given to Mexico through the Merida Initiative. The initiative was established to support Mexico in funds and equipment, in its fight against drugs.
The U.S. with withhold 15% (5M)of the total annual budget allocated, until the State Department issues a certification that Mexico has met the human rights standards.
The U.S. decided on this action in part based on the Iguala case of the killing and kidnapping of 49 persons on September 26-27, 2014. 43 of the 49, mostly normalistas, are missing and presumed dead, ( the majority of people in Mexico are discounting the official explanation by the Enrique Peña Nieto administration).
Other cases are of extrajudicial killings such as the 22 in Tlatlaya. And 16 in Apatzingán, Michoacán where police were heard saying “mow them down like dogs” when killing or injuring the unarmed citizens including children. Some photos reveal a few of the citizens, with the only weapon they had in their vehicles, sticks. Citizens reported federal police of planting the few weapons shown in photos.
The US government significantly strengthened its partnership with Mexico in combating organized crime in 2007 when it announced the Merida Initiative, a multi-year US security assistance package for Mexico. Aside from funds, the U.S. has provided equipment and training.
Since the 2008 onset, the United States congress highlighted the importance of tying in assurances that Mexico respect human rights from the outset, US Congress recognized the importance of ensuring that the Mexican government respect human rights in its public security efforts, thereby mandated that 15% of funding be withheld of Merida funds until the State Department issued a report to the US Congress which showed that Mexico had demonstrated it was meeting four human rights requirements.
Apatzingán, Michoacán, directly above and above left
In the years since the initiative began, Mexico has been chastised by the U.S. for human rights violations. Critics have said it has not been effective or that punitively at 15% funding freeze is not harsh enough. (What it calculates to this year is meager 5 million USD)
The U.S. threatened to withhold money unless cases of violations by military elements, and Federal Police, are prosecuted in public court, instead of military court.
In 2010 U.S. congress set forth these following requirements to be met by Mexico. Astonishingly, in the same year it was determined by the State Department in a report to congress, that that Mexico was meeting the Merida Initiative's human rights requirements, and it stated its intention to obligate roughly $36 million in security assistance that had been withheld from the 2009 supplemental and the 2010 omnibus budgets.
However, research conducted by organizations, including Mexico's National Human Rights
Commission, and the State Department's own reports, demonstrates conclusively
that Mexico has failed to meet the four human rights requirements set out by
|Futbol player, age 15 killed in Iguala attack|
In consideration of these facts congress should not have been releasing funds. In doing so and liberating previous fund withholding's, the Obama administration sent a message to Mexico, that the United States will not react punitively to grave human rights violations. In effect, establishing the United States, tolerates human rights violations that include torture, rape, murder and disappearance.
1) Requirement: Ensuring that civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities are investigating and prosecuting members of the federal police and military forces who have been credibly alleged to have violated human rights.
In a report to congress it states that Mexico's military justice system continues to "systematically claim" jurisdiction over the investigation of these cases. The reports also states; "information on military prosecutions is difficult to obtain," the "limited information on military prosecutions and complaints filed suggest that actual prosecutions are rare."
According to the Mexican military's own reports, military courts have only sentenced one soldier for a human rights violation committed since 2007.
Up to 2015, not a single soldier has been prosecuted in civilian courts since the Merida Initiative came into effect in July 2008. In this sense, the State Department's assertion in its September 2010 report that civilian prosecutors are investigating and prosecuting members of the military accused of human rights violations is inaccurate. To date, no bill has been introduced in the Mexican Congress to amend this practice.
Requirement: Ensuring that civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities are investigating and prosecuting members of the federal police and military forces who have been credibly alleged to have violated human rights.
Requirement: Enforcing the prohibition on the use of testimony obtained through torture.
Mexico claims to have addressed this practice of abuse, however the systematic practice of torture to obtain confessions have continued unabated. This is a critical issue most effecting Mexico’s system of justice, as most often confessions are the sole or primary evidence in criminal conviction.
Amid the tactics documented in force confession abuses, are the use of electric shocks, beatings, water boarding and suffocation with plastic bags. Meanwhile, the practice of “arraigo” in which a suspect may be detained for up to 80 days before being charged, in itself creates an environment that, facilitates torture.
Requirement: Improve the transparency and accountability of federal police forces and work with state and municipal authorities to improve the transparency and accountability of state and municipal police forces.
Mexico has agreed to changes that would create effective accountability and transparency, it does not provide clear guidelines for human rights complaints nor does it provide mechanisms that ensures transparency in the investigation, court hearings and disciplinary actions
Requirement: Conduct regular consultations with Mexican human rights organizations and civil society on recommendations for the implementation of the Merida Initiative.
Mexico has for all intents and purpose have kept meetings private to only a few select groups of representatives by making it impossible to improbable all groups can attend. By holding the meetings in D.F. with only a few days’ notice, rarely opened to the public, and exclusion of all groups having the right to set the agenda for the meetings, set only by the government. As a result few groups are left participating in the consultations.
|Iguala, Guerrero scene of first of two attacks in September, 2014 a massacre of 49 people|
Obama administration adjustments and goals
The Barrack Obama administration has made wide changes in the implementation of the treaty, by shifting funds pegged for security, to social programs targeted at facilitating Mexico's economic and justice system.
The administration implemented four goals:
1) The disruption of organized criminal groups2) Establishing the rule of law and respect for human rights reforms3) 21st century border structure with the utilization of equipment, technology, and training”4) The creation of strong, stable communities (ex. Micro loans, workshops, education)
In the face of these changes, the deterioration of the situation in Mexico has proved the initiative of being a colossal failure, and yet it has continued. All the good intentions will fall flat without stringent safeguards, if the beneficiary is immersed in a bed of criminal collusion and corruption.
The 2014 Iguala nightmare set the stage for a global spotlight to shine of the chaotic state of culpability, organized crime collusion, corruption, and human rights abuses, threaded through all layers of municipal, state and federal governments.
Dr. John Ackerman, an author as well as a professor at the Institute of Legal Research of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and vice president of the International Association of Administrative Law puts it this way in speaking about the Merida Initiative;
“Through two United States presidents, and 3 billion dollars later, Mexico is more unsafe, chaotic and authoritarian than ever”.
|American Julio Mondragon, a student teacher living in Mexico, |
face was flayed in the Iguala attack against "normalitas" and others
In a September 2015 report from Small Wars Journal (authored by Michael Hoopes) this was the conclusion:
"Despite the official policy goals expressed by the U.S. and Mexican governments, U.S. support of Mexican security forces through training and cash transfers, has remained at high levels.
Moreover, while U.S. net assistance to Mexican security forces has declined from its historically high levels of the George W. Bush administration, data show that said decline has not coincided with an increase in U.S. funds devoted to non-security initiatives that seek to remedy Mexico's crime problem, despite public promises by the Obama administration.
While this report does not explore arguments in favor of the United States supporting Mexican security institutions through training and equipment transfers/sale, Mexico's human rights catastrophes of 2014 support the critics who say that U.S. funds continue to support a state security apparatus rife with corruption. Thus, an analysis of both the nature of the U.S. foreign aid budget to Mexico and the events of 2014 clearly show that the institution-building efforts enshrined in the Mérida Initiative elude achievement.
The U.S. government, specifically the agencies who administer Mérida Initiative and Department of Defense funds to Mexico, by all accounts lacks a program that methodically and specifically assesses the outcomes of their financing and training experts. The 2010 recommendation of the U.S. Government
Accountability Office that the Secretary of State “incorporate into the strategy for the Mérida Initiative outcome performance measures that indicate progress toward strategic goals” remains largely unfulfilled, and the more complete implementation of the recommendation would be the crucial step in allowing the U.S. government to properly assess the impacts of the military assistance that those inside and outside the U.S. government continue to deem negative."
|Funds, equipment and training has been misappropriated and used to militarized |
security and finance human rights abuses of Mexican citizens.
In conclusion the once promising treaty should have been terminated long ago, either permanently, because of Mexico’s non-compliance, or temporarily, to enact adjustments.
Mexico has been treated as a spoiled child knowing the punishment will be short lived and without meaningful consequence, especially during the Obama administration.
Funds should have never been diverted from security to social programs.
But the greatest enemy to the success of the treaty was lack of safeguards and oversight. To throw funding, equipment and training at a nation deep-rooted in corruption, on every layer of government, municipal, state, federal, without stringent oversight, is tantamount to throwing funding at a windstorm, where at least, it would have better odds at landing where it could do some good.
In writing this post a portion of info or material was used from; Gov Track, SMJ, Reforma and Human Rights Watch, BB archive