Democrats stalling on Mexico aid to fight drug insurgents

Reuters/NY Times:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday urged Congress to approve a $500 million anti-drug program for Mexico, saying not to do so would be "a slap" against a crucial neighbor beset by drug violence.

Gates, only the second U.S. defense chief ever to visit Mexico, told reporters that U.S. congressional inaction on the program known as the Merida initiative would undermine Washington's ability to aid Mexico's counternarcotics fight.

President George W. Bush proposed the three-year, $1.4 billion initiative last October and put an initial $500 million segment for Mexico in the administration's fiscal 2008 supplemental request for Iraq and Afghanistan war funding.

Gates said he hoped Congress would vote to approve the program by the end of May.

"Failure to do so would be a real slap at Mexico and would be very disappointing and it clearly would make it more difficult for us to help Mexican armed forces and their civilian agencies deal with this difficult problem," the defense chief told reporters.

The initial segment, which also includes $50 million for Central America, would provide the Mexican army and navy with equipment such as helicopters, surveillance planes and inspection equipment to help interdict drug shipments headed for the United States.

Later segments would provide assistance to help build up Mexican law enforcement and judiciary agencies that U.S. critics say are often overwhelmed by corruption.

The measure has come under scrutiny by Democrats in Congress, including some who would prefer to see less emphasis on aid to the Mexican military, U.S. Senate aides said.

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Democrats are just not serious about helping our two major allies south of the border fight the narco terrorist and insurgents. They are screwing Colombia and now it appears they are not willing to help Mexico when it has shown the best leadership on fighting the drug thugs in decades. If we fail to help them fight the narcotics traffickers, it will make things worse for both Mexico and the US.

Their concerns about the Mexican military are just not realistic. If Mexico could fight these guys with law enforcement they would have won a long time ago. The fact is that the drug insurgents corrupted most of Mexico's law enforcement and the army was the only realistic alternative.

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