Hillary Hosts Mexican Drug War Meeting: More Doomed, Expensive Policies On Tap
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a working lunch with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa today in Washington, the third such meeting of the Merida High-Level Consultative Group on Bilateral Cooperation Against Transnational Organized Crime. (More on Meridia here and here.) Also in attendance:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of National Drug Policy of the United States Gil Kerlikowske, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, Acting Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the Treasury David Cohen, and Ambassador of the United States to Mexico Carlos Pascual.
The two governments issued this press release on the meeting and outlined the joint activities for the coming year. Congress has authorized $1.5 billion for Meridia since 2008, most of it for training the Mexican military and law enforcement. (As of December, 2010, $400 million had been provided. Today, the U.S. promised another $500 would be provided in 2011.) [More...]
Under the Merida Initiative, we have put into place an effective bilateral implementation structure that is now accelerating the implementation of our activities. Over $400 million in equipment, training, and capacity-building programs have been delivered, and the Government of the United States is committed to deliver an additional $500 million by the end of 2011. Both Governments welcome this commitment and will work together to ensure its full implementation.
Mexico thinks the U.S. isn't contributing enough money to its war on the cartels.
Washington has pledged just $1.3 billion under the so-called Merida Initiative to help Mexico fight the traffickers. "The Merida Initiative is almost an insult," leading Mexican historian Enrique Krauze told Reuters. "America spends a trillion dollars in Iraq and a hundred million or so on Merida: Beautiful."
"Things aren't moving forward and I have no hope they will. We're looking at ten years of war in Mexico. On our own. The Obama administration has been a huge disappointment for us."
Things don't sound too copacetic between the two Governments:
U.S. attempts to set traps for arms traffickers and money launderers have backfired and Washington has treated Mexico like a "laboratory" for experiments in law-enforcement strategies, former foreign minister Rosario Green wrote in a newspaper column recently.
U.S. officials counter such broadsides by saying Mexico has failed to address rampant corruption in the police and the judiciary, hampering efforts to improve on intelligence sharing.
Meridia apparently is just a drop in the bucket of the $15 billion the U.S. spent on the drug war last year.
White House data shows U.S. federal spending on narcotics control dipped slightly last year to just over $15 billion, even as drug war deaths surged to a record high in Mexico.
Here's the 2012 budget justification for the State Department's Foreign Operations.
The International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) request of $1,511.8 million will continue to support country and global programs critical to combating transnational crime and illicit threats, including efforts against terrorist and other criminal networks involved in the illegal drug trade, as well as other illicit enterprises. INCLE programs seek to close the gaps between law enforcement jurisdictions and to strengthen law enforcement institutions that are weak or corrupt.
On a related note:
Benjamin Arellano-Felix, DEA 2002 photo
Benjamin Arellano-Felix, 2011
Was it just a coincidence that just today, 19 years after he became "priority of DEA and Mexican authorities" and 9 years after his arrest in Mexico on an indictment returned in San Diego, Mexico finally got around to handing over Benjamin Arellano Felix? Or was he the price tag for today's meeting and a poster child for what "shared cooperation" by law enforcement can accomplish?
What a tired old trick. In 2009, as part of the new cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, Miguel Caro Quintero was turned over to the U.S. for prosecution.
We're also funding unmanned drones to track the cartels in Mexico and building new fusion centers.
The demand and availability for drugs is higher than ever. The mammoth expenditures on law enforcement are a waste. The war on drugs in Mexico or anywhere else is not winnable by these strategies. More on that here. Our leaders are tone-deaf. After Mexico, they want to ramp up the war on drugs in Central America.
The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York patted itself on the back today for its conviction of just 2 of the 4 men charged in the elaborate sting in the DEA African Adventures case. (It lost half the case.) It was a foreign sting that cost millions, had nothing to do with the U.S., and produced no drugs. And just today, some clueless Republicans in Congress called on Hillary Clinton to designate the cartels as "terrorist organization. (Their letter is here.)
Plan Mexico will be another expensive failure. This unwinnable war on drugs is going to bankrupt us. We need to stop, not increase funding for these law enforcement projects with their increased reliance on the military and intrusive electronic surveillance techniques, here and abroad.
|< Friday Evening Open Thread | WA Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Licensing Bill >|