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Your taxes, your impact. TELL CONGRESS to assess security aid to Mexico

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Author: Lily Folkerts

We know the results of Mexico’s war on drugs. Thousands of families whose sons and daughters have been disappeared without answers. Spiraling violence—a new record last year with 29,168 homicides—resulted in Mexico’s deadliest year. And an abusive Mexican military behind thousands of cases of torture, extrajudicial executions, and disappearances, most of which remain in impunity. The military’s role still hasn’t been cleared up almost four years later in the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students.

What’s more, abusive forces are funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. From 2008 to 2017, the State Department poured over $450 million to Mexico’s armed forces, and the Department of Defense contributed over $550 million to counter-drug assistance.

We shouldn’t be blindly funding these atrocities. That’s why Rep. Keith  Ellison started a dear colleague letter asking the administration to conduct a full and public assessment of U.S. security assistance to Mexico and to suspend U.S. support for  abusive security forces. And he needs your help getting his colleagues onboard. >>

We can’t continue supporting a failed strategy that has resulted in thousands of deaths and disappearances and left families without truth or justice. And now the Mexican government wants to expand the role of the military even further, passing an Internal Security Law at the end of last year. The law expands the role of the military on the streets without holding it accountable for its abuses. This is unacceptable.

We have to hold the Mexican government accountable, and we must also denounce our own government’s involvement through assistance to Mexican security forces. Demand a full and public assessment of U.S. security assistance to Mexico and suspend U.S. assistance to abusive security forces.

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Script:

“My name is ____, and I am a constituent.  I urge Representative  ____ to sign on Representative Keith Ellison’s letter calling on the Administration to conduct a full and public evaluation of military and police aid and arms sales to Mexico and to suspend any U.S. funding of abusive armed forces. Mexico’s massive military deployment in the drug war is contributing to more human rights violations, and its highest homicide rate in history. U.S. funding should not be contributing to this. Please urge your boss to sign the Ellison dear colleague letter on Mexico.”

Full text of the letter:

Dear Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mattis,

We write to urge you to conduct a full and public assessment of U.S. security assistance to Mexico. We are concerned that U.S. funds may be furthering cycles of violence and enabling human rights violations by the Mexican military.

The Mexican government has deployed tens of thousands of Mexican soldiers in its counter-drug efforts. These armed forces are trained for warfare rather than for police duties, as confirmed by Mexican Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos. [1] Studies have shown that the deployment of Mexican military forces in law enforcement has led to increases in homicides. In 2017, Mexico experienced the highest homicide rate in its recorded history. [2]

The use of  Mexican military forces in the war on drugs has also resulted in a dramatic increase in human rights violations, including torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions. Fewer than four percent of Mexican investigations of abuses allegedly committed by soldiers between 2012 and 2016 have resulted in convictions in civilian courts. [3]

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto institutionalized this militarized approach by signing the Internal Security Law in December 2017. This law enables the military to intervene in domestic criminal investigations and limits access to information regarding events that occur during military operations, including military abuses. National and international experts and institutions, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission actively oppose the Internal Security Law.

Between 2008 and 2017, the State Department appropriated more than $465.9 million to Mexico’s armed forces through foreign military financing. [4] In the last decade, the Department of Defense provided Mexico with more than $550 million in counter-drug assistance. [5] We are concerned that this funding supports and encourages militarizing public safety, leading to higher levels of violence and impunity.

Protection of human rights and civilian security should be fundamental goals in the United States bilateral agenda with Mexico. We urge you to suspend any U.S. financing of armed forces involvement in Mexico’s public security operations and focus on supporting efforts to advance the rule of law, investigate and prosecute human rights violations, and combat corruption, particularly along the trafficking route.

We urge you to conduct a full and public evaluation of the Merida Initiative, U.S. security aid and arms sales to Mexico to inform future funding decisions and ensure that U.S. security aid and trade do not support further human rights violations and violence. The evaluation should have clear metrics, include input from civil society, and address the implications for public safety, human rights and the rule of law.

We appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
Members of Congress

[1] Sedena: no estudiamos para perseguir delincuentes,” Excelsior, December 8, 2016, http://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2016/12/08/1133011.
[2] Laura Atesta and Aldo F. Ponce, Cómo las intervenciones de las fuerzas públicas de seguridad alteran la violencia. Evidencia del caso mexicano, CIDE, 2016.
[3] “Overlooking Justice, Washington Office on Latin America, November 2017, p. 6.
[4] Congressional Research Service, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond, June 29, 2017, p. 30.
[5] Ibid. and Security Assistance Monitor, securityassistance.org.