QUESTION: What is the State Department reaction to members of Congress who say the Merida Initiative is a failure?
ANSWER: We believe the Initiative is already having a positive impact. Through its bold efforts, with U.S. support, the Mexican government has successfully dismantled drug smuggling routes, seized major amounts of illicit drugs, and jailed drug kingpins. Building institutional capacity for the rule of law is crucial to long-term success. The Merida Initiative is a long-term initiative to support Mexican efforts in this regard.
A variety of U.S. federal agencies—including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Justice—are working with the Mexican government to implement Merida projects. We have seen an increase in bilateral law enforcement cooperation since the Merida Initiative began.
As President Obama has clearly stated: “We share with Mexico responsibility for meeting this challenge and we are committed to continuing our unprecedented cooperation in confronting these criminal organizations.”
QUESTION: What are the accomplishments of the initiative to date?
ANSWER: As of September 1, more than $504 million in equipment, training, and capacity-building has been delivered. With additional deliveries in 2011, we will bring this total to almost $900 million.
Moreover, our partnership with Mexico under the Merida Initiative has helped to strengthen and enhance our cooperation with Mexico in terms of our overall bilateral agenda. Since the partnership was formalized in 2008, more than $1.6 billion has been appropriated for the Merida Initiative (FY08-11). We have put into place an effective bilateral implementation structure that is now accelerating the implementation of our activities.
Since the inception of the Merida Initiative, working together, the United States and Mexico have:
QUESTION: Is a counterinsurgency strategy, as suggested by members of Congress, right to combat the drug cartels in Mexico?
ANSWER: We fully support Mexico’s efforts to combat organized crime, reduce violence, and enforce the rule of law. We share responsibility for these challenges and Mexico's efforts and interests in this regard can and do coincide with our own. We are committed to working with Mexico on both sides of the border in order to counter transnational criminal organizations.
Mexican authorities assert control throughout Mexico, in all Mexican states. Although organized crime tries to act with impunity, the Mexican government is using its resources to ensure that state authority will prevail and criminals will be punished, and we are supporting them.
U.S. support to Mexico through the Merida Initiative is designed to support the efforts of Mexican authorities, especially the civilian law enforcement agencies.