A quick glance to the events that lead to this plan and its evolution.
Created by insightcrime on Nov 10, 2010
Last updated: 01/26/11 at 04:46 PM
Tags: Mexico Merida Initiative Mexico
In far greater detail than previously known, diplomatic cables dating from late 2009 and 2010, released by WikiLeaks, indicate how deep is the level of U.S. involvement in Mexico's drug war. One diplomatic cable indicates that the U.S. provided the intelligence which led to the death of Arturo Beltran-Leyva. In another cable, a U.S. diplomat describes the Mexican military, a major recipient of Merida Initiative funding, as "risk averse."
Undersecretary of the Chihuahua state government, Carlos Silveyra, announces the return of the army patrols to Ciudad Juárez. The question becomes: are more troops the answer?
Despite continued efforts, violence worsens. According to Mexican newspaper 'La Reforma' through its "executo-meter" (an internal count of murders by the paper), murders for 2010 pass the 10,000 figure, doubling the count when the Mérida Initiative was signed.
In his meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega asks for more regional assistance for Central America. Ortega references the program in the Andes known as Plan Colombia that helped Colombia push back leftist rebels and slow the growth of drug trafficking organizations.
During the annual UN General Assembly meeting, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, asks the international community for help fighting drug trafficking. In her speech she highlights how organized crime impedes economic development.
During an event in Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comparisons of Mexico's situation to that of Colombia during the 1980's provokes strong reactions in Mexico. President Obama and Clinton's aids distance themselves from the statement, but the idea appears to driving US policy toward the region as it tries to replicate "successful" policies from Colombia.
The Obama administration requests $450 million for Mexico and $100 million for Central America, Dominican Republic and Haiti for FY2010.
The Obama administration begins contemplating the next step for the Mérida Initiative focusing on four pillars: 1) dismantling and overcoming the criminal organizations; 2) building and reinforcing institutions; 3) reestablishing and modernizing the border control system; 4) more work with local communities.
The Mexican Army cedes the security operations in Ciudad Juárez to 5,000 officers of the Federal Police (4,500 of whom will come as soon as the army leaves). However, the Army will keep control of the surrounding areas, airports and border crossings in the area.
President Felipe Calderón visits the city for the third time in little over a month. He is escorted by a security scheme that includes more than 5,000 police and military officers. More than 500 murders have already been committed in the city, including seventeen at a party in the days prior to the president's visit. As a litmus test, the visit fails to inspire confidence Calderón's hardline tactics are working. To be sure, he is jeered in Juárez.
After attending a birthday party in Ciudad Juarez, a consular officer and her husband are intercepted and killed by gunmen as they head back to El Paso. US investigators are sent to assist local authorities in the investigation. Most theories point to the 'Aztecas' gang, an armed wing of the Juárez Cartel.
In spite of the militarization of the city, for the second straight year, Juárez is declared one of the most dangerous cities in the world with 2,658 drug-related murders.
US Congress approves further aid for the initiative, with $300 million dollars for Mexico, and an additional $110 million for Central America, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Later, an extra $420 million dollars are approved for Mexico but are not attached to Mérida.
Some 2,000 Mexican soldiers and federal police are deployed in the streets of Ciudad Juárez. They add to the other thousand that have been present in the city since 2008, including the more than 400 deployed when the city was first militarized. The murder rate dips briefly, then rises again as the drug cartels battling for control of the city change tactics: Instead of using large caravans, small units of assassins are deployed.
US Ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza, signs the agreement with the Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for North America, Carlos Rico. Meanwhile newspapers report the drug-related murder rate has doubled, going from 2,700 in 2007 to over 5,000 in 2008.
The United States elects Barack Obama president. Obama says he will continue President Bush's policy in Mexico via the Mérida Initiative.
After failing a series of tests conducted by the Mexican Federal Public Safety Office, that included drug and polygraph testing, one third of the police (around 400 men) are dismissed from the force.
Murders skyrocket in Ciudad Juárez, topping 1,500 for 2008, and leading some non-governmental organizations in Mexico to declare it the "most dangerous city in the world." The city becomes the test of whether the government can slow the violence with its new initiatives.
US Congress approves the initial aid to the countries covered in the initiative (Mexico, Central America, Dominican Republic and Haiti). The amount for FY2008 is $400 million for Mexico and $65 million for the rest. On this first proposal $1.6 billion were approved for the period 2008-2010.
Most of the aid is for military and police. The rest is earmarked for judicial and institutional reforms.
Close to 400 members of the Mexican Military arrive in Ciudad Juárez as part of the government's strategy to fight drug trafficking gangs who have begun a full scale war in the streets of the city. Mexico's President Felipe Calderón launches similar strategies in another border city, Tijuana, in the state of Baja California. Juárez, however, will become both the battleground for drug trafficking gangs and the test for Calderón's presidential policy of attacking the cartels head on.
President Bush announces a plan to combat drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico and Central America. Naming it after the Mexican city where talks initiated, the proposal includes $500 million in aid for Mexico and $50 million more for Central America, for FY2008; total price tag is $1.4 billion for the years 2008-2010. It's not until its approval in Congress that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are added to the list, and the budget is changed to $1.6 billion. From the beginning, many liken the strategy to Plan Colombia, a multi-billion dollar strategy that helped beat back guerrillas and dismantle drug trafficking organizations in that country.