Aid for Mexico's war with drug insurgents passes

Houston Chronicle:

In a country where drug-related violence has killed nearly 2,000 people this year, including four police commanders, a beleaguered Mexico cheered U.S. congressional approval of a record $400 million to help it battle narcotics gangs.

In a 92-6 vote late Thursday, the U.S. Senate authorized a three-year, $1.6-billion package to combat drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America. The bill includes $65 million in anti-narcotics assistance for Central America this year.

President Bush, who originally proposed $1.5 billion in aid for Mexico and Central America under the provisions of the Merida Initiative, is expected to sign the measure into law.

"The United States is finally recognizing that this is a joint problem, a bilateral problem, and that it has a responsibility in this fight to work with the Mexican government," said Juan Camilo Mouriño, Mexico's interior minister, who oversees internal security.

The news came as another top police official was gunned down in the capital Thursday night. Igor Labastida, a federal police commander who was investigating corruption within the force, was eating tacos when a hit man opened fire with an Uzi submachine gun. Labastida and one of his bodyguards were killed and another one was wounded.


The new anti-narcotics aid package — which is more than 10 times the $37 million disbursed to Mexico last year — is in the form of equipment, not cash. It would enable Mexico to buy more military transport planes, beef up border security to stem the flow of illegal weapons, and equip its inspectors with high-tech computer detection equipment.

However, about $57 million is contingent upon the government meeting human rights conditions.

"The United States wants to work with Mexico on these issues, including the need to hold accountable members of the military and the police who violate human rights," said a U.S. Senate aide who helped draft the bill. "This is not a blank check."

The plan calls for $73.5 million to be spent on judicial reform, institution-building and other activities aimed at strengthening the rule of law and combating corruption in Mexico. It also allocates $3 million to help Mexico create a national police registry.

However, some human rights activists said the $116 million earmarked for buying military equipment and technology was excessive.


The problem with the human right's wackos is they think the military is the problem and they ignore the drug terrorist who are murdering people. The way to deal with military abuses is with training and not with punitive the withholding of funds.

Mexico military needs some training in counterinsurgency warfare and learning the importance of protecting the people in defeat the insurgents. The so called human rights groups solution is like a commander saying there will be no more mail until the morale improves.


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