The United States finances Mexico’s state crimes through the Merida Initiative.
By Luis Villanueva
JUNE 14, 2015
The tragic condition in which Mexico finds itself has only worsened due to Plan Merida (the Merida Initiative). Both the Mexican and United States’ governments desperately try to convince us that it is a beneficial project for both societies. The reality is quite the contrary. It is a project in which each objective does exactly the opposite of what the policy states. The official description of this plan, which includes Central America, states that the four main objectives are as follows:
- Curb the operational capacity of organized crime
- Institutionalize the ability to maintain the rule of law
- Create a XXI century border structure
- Build strong and resilient communities
The following is an analysis of the results of each of the specific objectives of the initiative. Eight years ago it was approved and implemented by the governments of Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush and today it continues with the current leaders of both countries.
- Curb the operational capacity of organized crime. Under a narco-state, changes within the leadership structures of organized crime are the norm, not the exception. There is a constant struggle for power and when a leader falls, it creates a vacuum of power that is then filled by another.
- When you destroy the power structures of the drug trade without dealing with the actual (societal) causes of the problem, it only generates a rearrangement of forces and new leaders or organizations emerge.
- The arrests of drug lords have been achieved without the Merida Initiative. Let us not forget that periodically (and even before this plan was approved) the government has “captured” drug lords. Some of those arrests coincidentally happened at critical moments when the government needed to distract the public, or when they wanted to react to an external pressure.
- One of Merida Initiative clauses includes the directive to train police officers and members of the armed forces in US military institutions. This measure only increases the levels of violence and the capacity of organized crime because sooner or later, individuals or even complete commands switch over to work for organized crime.
- Institutionalize the ability to maintain the rule of law. This objective of the Merida Initiative is the easiest to question.
- Rule of law exists only where there is democracy. The truth of the matter is that the massacres, the daily violation of citizens’ rights, the forced disappearance of citizens by the state’s own forces and the lack of ability to respond, (or in some cases a negative response) to citizen demands have all happened under Plan Merida and has only contributed to weakening the rule of law.
- Under a rule of law there should be laws that check the free will of individuals. Where are the laws that should punish corruption cases involving the government, from the president to members of all the political parties? The level of corruption is so extensive, vertically and horizontally, that the initiative seems to have been written solely to protect the existing corruption.
- The rule of law has been violated and weakened so much that it has impacted to life of almost all citizens. And to this point, it does not matter to what extent a citizen has been physically affected. The mental effect and the psychological imbalance have been upset because one lives under constant threat of being attacked, kidnapped, or killed. And in many cases, some give into the worst fear, because our biggest concern is the safety of our families.
- Create a XXI century border structure. If border structure is meant to put the governments of Mexico and Central America at the service of US immigration policy, then its objective has been fulfilled.
- Our sisters and brothers who come from Central America face violations of their basic rights at the hands of the Mexican government or criminal gangs, which are generally difficult to differentiate. With this plan, and contrary to the tradition hospitality and solidarity of the Mexican people, the Mexican immigration services add yet another shame: their servitude to the US government. Basically, the Mexican migra is now working as a branch of US immigration policy in Mexico and along the border with Guatemala.
- This level of deterioration of national sovereignty began with the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement signed in the eighties. In its most clear function, the FTA was created to eliminate barriers to transnational monopolies, two of which are not officially recognized: drug and weapons trafficking.
- Build strong and resilient communities. Like the other three, this objective has resulted in destruction and abandonment.
- Appearances seemingly matter more than the truth. A drug addition program was funded in Ciudad Juárez, but it stopped working once the facilities were constructed.
- In Guerrero and Sinaloa, two of the states that should reflect the effectiveness of this program, have experienced the largest displacement of entire communities due to drug trafficking. In 2014, in Sinaloa, 40 communities were displaced. In the same year in Guerrero, within only 5 municipalities, 25 entire towns were forced to abandon their homes.
- It is well known that in areas where both legal and illegal businesses thrive, the narco-state has been merciless with the civilian population. The region where the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa is located is the perfect example. This area is home to some of the most productive gold and silver mines of Mexico and is also one of the principal areas of poppy and opium gum production. When the relatives of the 43 missing students began to look [for the students] on their own accord, they found countless mass graves. This is an example of the “strong and resilient communities” that the Merida Initiative has created.
After taking into account all of these issues of Plan Merida, the question that remains is: Why was it implemented? What are its results?
- The most apparent phenomenon of Plan Merida is that it has reinforced the ‘Shock Doctrine’, explained by Naomi Klein in her book, The Shock Doctrine. The influx of weapons and the state of terror and destruction that it has caused in states such as Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Oaxaca and more recently in Jalisco, are the best evidence that the state’s purpose is to terrorize the population. The rest of the country, regions or states, that are not characterized by living in these conditions of daily or direct violence are still victims of the same phenomenon because they live in constant anxiety and fear, knowing that at any time, they may be intimidated, threatened, kidnapped, raped, imprisoned unjustly or simply killed.
- The lived day-to-day reality of Mexican women and men is grim. The Merida Initiative has increased the violence, has only reduced the individual rights of its citizens, has eroded and sometimes destroyed democracy. The political system has become a puppeteer of the abuses from which the population suffers at hands of criminals with and without a suit-and-tie. The level of cynicism and cruelty against the civilian population has no parallel in our history.
- It has contributed to the entry of huge quantities of weapons. More recent investigations have shown that weapons originally imported for police and military forces have now passed into the hands of criminal gangs.
Lastly are the two most important points of the substantial amount of weapons. First is the fact that a phenomenon rooted in economic and political reasons, but manifests itself through violence, is given a violent, military solution. That is to say that the plan does not deal with poverty, the lack of job opportunities and corruption within political system. It only attacks the resulting effects of these problems, and does so incorrectly. And this happens, perhaps because the guidelines as to how to deal with theses problem are imposed on the Mexican government from the outside. Never in the history of our country has there been a government so submissive in Mexico. And keep in mind that it was difficult to overcome others such as Antonio López de Santa Ana.
The second point is that betting on a violent solution increases the violence even more. For a long time after the Mexican Revolution our society, even with all its evils, existed as a community without weapons. Now, in accordance with provisions and economic interests of international arms manufacturers, the country is flooded with all kinds of weapons.
This year alone, the government of EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto] bought 1,300,000,000 dollars worth of military equipment from the [United States] Department of Defense. Another indicator of the dangerous path on which Mexico finds itself is that it went from the 25th to the 5th country in gun importation.
It is the moral obligation of all citizens on both sides of the border to demand the immediate cancellation of Plan Merida (Merida Initiative).
The Merida Initiative is part of a bloodthirsty and destructive project: both governments are using it to keep the population under constant threat, fear, and intimidation.
Plan Merida has created a state of chaos and confusion that has allowed most submissive attitude government in the Mexico’s history to approve continuous amounts of legislation that delivers natural resources to national and international corporations without popular resistance.
Plan Merida, with the violence it has generated, has prevented the ability to stop corruption, which has reached levels never before seen in the country.
Finally, Plan Merida is opposes community autonomy and the existence of community police and their leaders. Nestora Salgado is one of the victims of this plan because her case clearly demonstrates the inadequacy of the public force in the communities most affected by the violence.
The arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the leader of the Community Police of Olinalá, Guerrero, exposes the true nature of Plan Merida: it does the opposite of what it is suppose to do. Instead of supporting the creation of strong and safe communities, their leaders are attacked in order to destroy their community projects and leave the people at the mercy of criminal gangs and a narco- government.
The success of Nestora Salgado and other community leaders and political prisoners in Guerrero’s communities is the response to Plan Merida, because as this woman’s work shows, communities can live peacefully without foreign military assistance.