A lot has been happening in Washington in the weeks since we covered the Washington Post article that exposed the forced disappearances, torture and illegal raids being carried out by the Mexican military as a part of the “drug war” and the practical impunity for soldiers who use these tactics. Concerned members of Congress have started asking more questions, so LAWG has been working with partner groups in the United States and Mexico to provide some answers. On July 16th, we circulated a joint public statement calling for Congress to withhold a chunk of funds designated for Mexico under the Merida Initiative, which they can only release once they accept a report from the State Department that documents the Mexican government’s efforts to meet four key human rights requirements.
Yesterday, August 5th, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) decided to freeze the process that would release around $100 million in counter-narcotics assistance to Mexico. Senator Leahy was disturbed by the ongoing reports of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Mexican military; and as chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee it is his responsibility to ensure that they enforce the spirit of the human rights requirements in the Merida initiative. In his statement, Senator Leahy noted that “The Congress provides 85 percent of the aid without conditions, but there needs to be evidence that the military is accountable to the rule of law. Those requirements have not been met, so it is premature to send the report to Congress.” He continued “…the military strategy alone is not a solution in the long term nor is it yet clear what it can achieve in the short term. Mexico needs effective police forces and a justice system that works. And as long as the demand for drugs in the United States and the flow of guns to Mexico continue at these levels, it will be difficult to neutralize the cartels.”
We applaud Senator Leahy for supporting the people of Mexico by taking a firm stance on human rights and hope that President Obama will be equally as mindful of these issues as he attends the North American Leaders Summit this weekend.
For more info:
Click here to read the Washington Post’s headline news coverage of this story.
Click here to read Senator Leahy’s official statement.
Click here to read Jenny Johnson’s article in our publication, The Advocate, that explains the situation and summarizes the public statement put out by human rights groups in Mexico and the U.S.
Or just click here to read our entire statement yourself!