Torture, illegal raids, and forced disappearances carried out by government soldiers with no accountability. Is this what we want our government to be funding in Mexico? No.
Senator Patrick Leahy felt the same way.
Last Wednesday, August 5th, Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, made headlines when he blocked the State Department’s plan to issue a report that he was concerned would paint an inaccurately rosy picture of the status of human rights in Mexico-thereby freezing approximately $100 million to Mexico as part of the massive, multi-year counter-narcotics package known as the Merida Initiative.
How did this happen?
When Congress approved the first installment of the Merida Initiative, they recognized the Mexican government’s urgent need to make concrete progress in the area of human rights as it relates to counternarcotics efforts. So, as part of this bill, Congress specified that 15 percent of funds within the Merida Initiative could not be released until the U.S. Department of State reported that the Mexican government was meeting four human rights requirements.
This past month, we heard that the State Department was preparing to issue the report to Congress in the hopes of releasing the funds soon. Since we know that the Mexican government is nowhere close to making progress on human rights, as soldiers regularly use brutal tactics with virtual impunity, we and other human rights partners decided to get the real story to Congress. We circulated a strong public statement , while the Washington Post published a powerful exposé on human rights abuses committed by the Mexican military against civilians-and the Mexican authorities’ failure to hold these soldiers accountable for these violations. Luckily, this message reached Senator Leahy in time; so when the State Department came knocking, he kept the door shut tight, demanding real progress before he would accept the State Department’s report.
But here’s the problem: Despite this temporary freeze, we’re sure that there will be great pressure for Congress to release the funds when they return in the fall. So, that’s why we need you to contact your congressional representatives today.
Click here to urge your elected officials to support the people of Mexico by taking a firm stance on human rights!
The United States should not encourage or fund a role for the Mexican armed forces in domestic law enforcement. As we see in the Washington Post story, this is a dangerous strategy. Holding up the funds on human rights grounds sends a strong message, and we can ensure that happens, together.