U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond


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Introduction and summary

Further, CBP employs non-intrusive inspection NII systems—both large-scale and mobile—to aid in inspection and processing of travelers and shipments. Historically, Mexican Customs had not served the role of performing southbound or inbound inspections. Additionally, CBP is assisting Mexican Customs in developing investigator training programs and the State Department has provided over canines to assist with the inspections.

Data from a GAO report can provide a snapshot of corruption involving Southwest border officials: From fiscal years through , a total of [CBP] employees were arrested or indicted for corruption-related activities, including the smuggling of aliens or drugs About 65 percent 93 of arrests were employees stationed along the southwest border.

With U. These unarmed agents have worked with the military and the police to increase immigration enforcement efforts along known migrant routes. While several U. The Department of Defense has provided training and equipment to Mexican military forces as well. Observers have urged U. Pillar four is unique in that it has involved Mexican and U. Pillar four seeks to empower local leaders, civil society representatives, and private sector actors to lead crime prevention efforts in their communities.

It has been informed by lessons learned from U. Federal officials worked with local authorities and civic leaders to establish six task forces to plan and oversee a strategy for reducing criminality, tackling social problems, and improving citizen-government relations. While federal officials began by amplifying access to existing social programs and building infrastructure projects, they later responded to local demands to concentrate efforts in certain "safe zones.

Culture-of-lawfulness CoL programs aim to combine "top-down" and "bottom-up" approaches to educate all sectors of society on the importance of upholding the rule of law. USAID supported a crime and violence mapping project that enabled Ciudad Juarez's government to identify hot spots and respond with tailored prevention measures as well as a program to provide safe spaces, activities, and job training programs for at-risk youth.

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond - Digital Library

In April , the U. The program has supported the development of community strategies to reduce crime and violence in the target localities, including outreach to at-risk youth, improved citizen-police collaboration, and partnerships between public and private sector entities. It included funding for an evaluation of crime in the target communities that will help enable both governments to identify successful models for replication. USAID also awarded local grants to civil society organizations for innovative crime prevention projects that engage at-risk youth. The State Department is supporting other key elements of pillar four: drug demand reduction, culture of lawfulness programs, and efforts to help citizens hold government entities accountable.

As Mexico has made culture of lawfulness education a required part of middle school curriculum, U. While the U. For example, both countries may strive to ultimately reduce the overarching threat posed by the DTOs—a national security threat to Mexico and an organized crime threat to the United States. However, their short-term goals may differ; Mexico may focus more on reducing drug trafficking-related crime and violence, while the United States may place more emphasis on aggressively capturing DTO leaders and seizing illicit drugs.

In September , a contractor submitted a final report to the U. It has yet to be made public, but reportedly contains a mix of indicators that include output, outcome, and crime perception variables. Figure 2. Department of Justice and U. In , the number of extraditions declined to Given the transition to a new administration in Mexico, there are several possible reasons for that decline.

According to Mexican officials, extradition requests from the United States to Mexico declined from in to 88 in Previously, the Mexican government had maintained that it was unlikely to grant any U. Possibly due to Mexican opposition, the U. According to U. Because of the terrain where drug crops are grown and the small plot sizes involved, Mexican eradication efforts have predominantly been conducted manually.

Increases in drug production have occurred as the government has assigned more military forces to public security functions, including anti-DTO operations, than to drug crop eradication efforts. However, the Mexican government significantly increased its eradication of poppy and slightly increased its eradication of marijuana in over , according to the INCSR.

The State Department is in discussions with the Mexican government on ways in which cooperation on combating the production and trafficking of heroin can be augmented, including the possibility of increasing opium poppy eradication. The Mexican government has not traditionally provided support for alternative development, even though many drug-producing regions of the country are impoverished rural areas where few licit employment opportunities exist.

Alternative development programs have traditionally sought to provide positive incentives for farmers to abandon drug crop cultivation in lieu of farming other crops, but may be designed more broadly to assist any individuals who collaborated with DTOs out of economic necessity to adopt alternative means of employment. In Colombia, studies have found that the combination of jointly implemented eradication, alternative development, and interdiction is more effective than the independent application of any one of these three strategies.

While Mexico has made arresting drug kingpins a top priority, it has not given equal attention to the need to increase drug seizures.

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The State Department has provided canines and inspection equipment for interdiction at Mexico's borders and ports of entry that has helped increase seizures, yet cocaine seizures in Central American countries often exceed Mexico's cocaine interdiction figures. The State Department's annual human rights reports covering Mexico have cited credible reports of police involvement in extrajudicial killings, kidnappings for ransom, and torture. In addition to expressing concerns about current abuses, Mexican and international human rights groups have criticized the Mexican government for failing to hold military and police officials accountable for past abuses.

In May , Mexico revised the country's military justice code to comply with rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and decisions by Mexico's Supreme Court affirming that cases of military abuses against civilians should be tried in civilian courts. In the past year, civilian courts, some operating with oral trials, have begun to hold military officials accountable for past abuses. In August , an Army lieutenant became the first Mexican military official charged with enforced disappearance.

These concerns have intensified as U. Congress has continued monitoring adherence to the "Leahy" vetting requirements that must be met under the Foreign Assistance Act FAA of as amended 22 U. In an October 19, , briefing, a spokesperson said that although the State Department was "unable to confirm and report to Congress that Mexico fully met all of the [human rights] criteria in the Fiscal Year appropriation legislation P. Mexican officials publicly rejected the State Department's decision, but it has reportedly not hindered bilateral efforts.

Key takeaways

The report S. They are similar to those described above in P. If in they were underwhelmed with his government's efforts to promote and protect human rights, they have vigorously criticized the government's handling of high-profile cases of alleged abuses in and the lack of protection it has provided for groups vulnerable to abuses journalists, human rights defenders, migrants. As funds are provided to help secure Mexico's southern border, Congress may additionally consider how to help mitigate concerns about migrants' rights in Mexico.

Role of the U. DOD is also providing training and equipment to Mexican military forces patrolling the country's southern borders. More broadly, DOD assistance aims to support Mexico's efforts to improve security in high-crime areas, track and capture DTO operatives, strengthen border security, and disrupt illicit flows. There are a variety of funding streams that support DOD training and equipment programs. DOD funding is not subject to the same human rights withholding provisions as State Department appropriations, but individuals and units receiving DOD support are vetted for potential human rights issues in compliance with the Leahy Law.

DOD programs in Mexico are overseen by U. Training has included courses on information fusion, surveillance, interdiction, cybersecurity, logistics, and professional development. Equipping efforts provided non-lethal equipment such as communications tools, aircraft modifications, night vision, boats, etc. These domestic counter-drug initiatives are funded through regular and supplemental appropriations for a variety of U.

Regarding support for law enforcement efforts, some would argue that there needs to be more federal support for states and localities on the U. Of those who endorse that point of view, some are encouraged that the Obama Administration has increased manpower and technology along the border, whereas others maintain that the Administration's efforts have been insufficient to secure the border. They maintain that if recent U.

Mexican officials from across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about the construction of border fencing and the effects of border enforcement on migrant deaths. In targeting those communities most affected by the violence, greater efforts will necessarily be placed on community-building in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana than on their sister cities in the United States. However, if the U. For example, initiatives aimed at providing youth with education, employment, and social outlets might reduce the allure of joining a DTO or local gang.

Some may contend that increasing these services on the U. State Department-funded counterdrug assistance programs in the Western Hemisphere are currently in transition. Counterdrug assistance to Colombia and the Andean region is in decline after record assistance levels that began with U.

The Obama Administration has taken steps to coordinate the aforementioned country and regional antidrug programs and to ensure that U. The Administration has appointed a coordinator within the State Department the Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs to oversee the planning and implementation of the aforementioned security assistance packages.

The Administration is encouraging countries that have received U. One area in which closer cooperation between the United States, partner governments, and other donors will likely be necessary is in efforts to better secure the porous Mexico-Guatemala and Mexico-Belize borders. Outlook Experts are weighing in about the future of U.

He prioritized economic reforms over security programs. Strong cooperation is already occurring on efforts to secure Mexico's southern border, modernize the U. Assistance to Mexico Table A FY FY est. INCLE Notes: 1. This figure is an estimate; full-year estimates of organized crime-related killings in are not yet available. Nexos , February 1, Counterdrug Assistance to Mexico , th Cong. Botticelli, op. Riley, op.

Hereinafter: Ferreira and Shirk, Proposed laws against torture and enforced disappearances and to establish a national anti-corruption system and a new national identification card remain pending. January Meyer and Clare Ribando Seelke. The report suggested ways that U. S Counterdrug Assistance to Mexico , th Cong. Alejandro Hope, "U. Randal C. The BEST Initiative is a multi-agency initiative wherein task forces seek to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security—both along the southwest border with Mexico as well as along the northern border with Canada.

Role , by Clare Ribando Seelke. Brownfield, op. Proponents of the reform maintain that it would improve coordination with the federal government and bring efficiency, standardization, and better trained and equipped police to municipalities. Skeptics argue that police corruption has been a major problem at all levels of the Mexican policing system and argue that there is a role for municipal police who are trained to deal with local issues.

Ferreira and Shirk, This practice first came into existence in the s and was formally incorporated into the Mexican Constitution through a constitutional amendment passed in as a legal instrument to fight organized crime. Its use has been criticized by several United Nations bodies, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and international and Mexican human rights organizations. This ESC is one of the most recent developments in the bilateral cooperation.

There is a dearth of open-source data that currently measures the extent of inbound and outbound inspections performed by both the United States and Mexico along the southwest border. Rather, existing data tend to address seizures of drugs, guns, and money as well as apprehensions of suspects.

Therefore, this section addresses current U. Each of these forces has committed human rights violations and exhibited corruption. Key sectors that CoL programs seek to involve include law enforcement, security forces, and other public officials; the media; schools; and religious and cultural institutions. Embassy, February CRS interview with Mexican official, March 13, Azam Ahmed, "U. Vanda Felbab-Brown, Joel M. Jutkowitz, Sergio Rivas, et al. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report covering does not contain a similar estimate.

These figures compare data in the U. The codified Leahy law 22 U. A provision in the annual DOD appropriations legislation prohibits the use of DOD funds to support any training program involving a unit of a foreign security or police force if the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. There is no FAA definition for the term "security force. Prior to the obligation of FMF, the Secretary of State has to submit a report to the Appropriations Committees detailing steps taken by the Mexican government in the past year "to investigate and prosecute military and police personnel for violation of human rights in civilian courts, enforce the prohibitions against torture and the use of testimony obtained through torture, and search for the victims of forced disappearances; and by the Mexican military and police to promptly transfer detainees to the custody of civilian judicial authorities in accordance with Mexican law and to cooperate with such authorities in such cases.

Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed, "U. Particularly, Congress has targeted money to support the transition from an inquisitorial justice system to an oral, adversarial, and accusatory one. Moreover, the U. In this sense, human rights conditions in Mexico are likely to constitute an important oversight issue in the U.

Congress must consider the U. As it has been studied here, interdependence is an essential feature of the U. This interdependence is particularly pronounced along the border. At the border, the U. Poor security coordination along the frontier could prove deadly and, in some cases, disastrous. Mismanagement of shared resources can lead to scarcity and environmental degradation.

State Department and Mexico's Foreign Ministry formally manage federal government-to-government interaction, a number of federal and state agencies are also involved in the border management. Interagency coordination is crucial and can be difficult because local governments must conduct international work with their counterparts in the U. The ten U. Pursuant to binational agreements, the U. The Colorado River flows through seven U. A Water Treaty requires the U. Deliveries to Mexico in the northwestern portion of the basin are laid out in the Convention, while deliveries for the southeastern portion occur under the Water Treaty.

Some Members of Congress are concerned about Mexico's Water Treaty compliance, the resulting economic impacts, and the adequacy of U. Diverse matters in the international arena deeply concern both countries, such as security threats in Central America, reforming multilateral organizations, building new trade partnerships worldwide, and problems of nuclear nonproliferation and climate change.

This bilateral relationship has a direct impact on the lives of millions of persons. Given the interdependence between the two countries, the success of Mexico in resolving its difficulties has a major impact upon the U. For these reasons, U. From an emphasis on immigration issues, economy or security more recently , now other critical issues appear, such as natural resources or energy, which will probably dominate the dialogue between the two nations during the next years..

Since these reforms were made on the constitutional level, they must be translated into specific laws and regulations. As Mexico is experiencing this major transformation, its relations with the U. This transition will probably imply new challenges with regard to different aspects of the bilateral relationship.. President Obama has supported these adjustments. If the Congress finds that the Mexican security strategy has no longer the same priorities as the U.

Mexican economic prosperity is relevant for the U. The Congress faces numerous issues that could affect the economic relationship with Mexico, such as the U.

Mexico's role in the U. Mexicans are uniquely affected by U. It has been suggested that a comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes labor and legal protection needs of the immigrants must be passed. Nonetheless, if an integral reform is not attainable in the short term, immigration will still be receiving substantial attention in both chambers of the Congress.. With regard to the energy sector, the future of oil and natural gas production in Mexico is crucial for U.

Depending on the provisions and implementation of the secondary legislation of Mexico's constitutional reform, significant investment opportunities for U. Congress is likely to study the fairness of the terms Mexico offers to private companies interested in investing. Additionally, congressional oversight may focus on the implementation of the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement..

Finally, the complexity of the U. These topics will definitively have a crucial weight and presence in the bilateral dialogue. Firstly, human rights conditions in Mexico will continue to be an important issue in the U. Secondly, Congress must consider the U. Thirdly, Congress may monitor Mexico's compliance of the binational agreements under which the U.

Lastly, U. Commission on Mexico -U. Octavio Paz, Mexico and the U. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 1; see also and U. Department of State , supra note Rubio , supra note 3, at Inter - American Dialogue , supra note 1, at Clare Ribando Seelke, Cong. Research Serv. Relations 11 Jan. Shannon K. Department of State , supra note 2; see also Ribando, Cong. Ribando, Cong. Wood, supra note Finklea, Cong.

Ribando and Finklea, Cong. Relations 11 Dec. Ribando and Finklea , Cong. Angeles V illarreal , Cong.

Carla A. Villarreal, Cong. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at iii.. Rubio , supra note 3, at 5, Angeles Villarreal, Cong. Eduardo Bolio et al. Marc R. Rosenblum et al. Rosenblum, Cong. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at Jeffrey S. Passel et al. Passel, supra note See Schmid, Carol L. The four Judiciary Committee bills were referred to other committees with jurisdiction over them. However, House Members appear to be divided regarding which of these bills should be brought to the House floor Id.

Clare Ribando Seelke et al. David L. Atlantic Council Dec. Ribando et al. Curry L. Uzel, Cong.

It is estimated that this area of international waters contains about million barrels of oil and billion cubic feet of natural gas.. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars et al. Nicole T. Carter et al. ISSN: Previous article Next article. Issue 2. Pages January - June DOI: Download PDF. This item has received. Under a Creative Commons license. Article information. The seventh section addresses other relevant aspects that should be taken into account in the policyand law-making processes.

Key words:. Constitutional reforms. Palabras clave:. Reformas constitucionales. Undoubtedly, the way these issues are addressed is a process of constant change that is marked by internal political debates and decision-making processes.

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond

Finally, some concluding remarks are included. These reforms were made on the constitutional level and thus must be translated into specific laws and regulations that will have a direct impact on the economic and social conditions of the country. For this reason, Mexican government has received severe criticism, which has generated pressure to hasten the nation's criminal justice system transition.

Congress Many hearings had been held in the Congress in order to determine how the Mexican security strategy aligns with the U. Their success certainly depends on their implementation especially in the subnational level , the political equilibrium of the country, and the external shocks of the global economy. Congress The bilateral trade relationship is of key interest to the U. Congress Despite the fact that President Obama has put immigration reform at the top of his second-term legislative agenda, 94 it has been difficult to discuss and pass a comprehensive reform due to the weak political equilibrium in the Congress.

Even if these executive actions were implemented to their full extent, they only constitute a partial solution in an immigration system that needs profound changes simply because today there is a different reality and the legal framework has not been adapted to it. This will strengthen both the Mexican and American energy security by lowering their dependence from other markets. These situations exemplify the key challenge that Mexico has in strengthening the role that regulators have in the new energy market. Congress According to the CRS, the opening of the Mexican oil and natural gas sector to foreign investors poses substantial changes in the U.

From an emphasis on immigration issues, economy or security more recently , now other critical issues appear, such as natural resources or energy, which will probably dominate the dialogue between the two nations during the next years. Nonetheless, if an integral reform is not attainable in the short term, immigration will still be receiving substantial attention in both chambers of the Congress. Additionally, congressional oversight may focus on the implementation of the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement.

Department of State , supra note 2. Rubio , supra note 3, at 5. Inter - American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 2. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at iii. Rubio , supra note 3, at 5, 7. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 2. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 8.


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Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 7. Inter-American Dialogue , supra note 1, at 9. It is estimated that this area of international waters contains about million barrels of oil and billion cubic feet of natural gas. Subscribe to our newsletter. Print Send to a friend Export reference Mendeley Statistics. Revistas Mexican Law Review. Article options. Si continua navegando, consideramos que acepta su uso.

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond

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