What´s the Merida Initiative/Plan Mexico?

By Workers’ Voice  and GSO – Mexico, 3/30/16


A Repeat of Plan Colombia

The “Plan Mexico”, also known as the Merida Initiative is a security agreement signed by Bush and Calderón in May 2007. It was presented as an “initiative for regional security and cooperation.” But as we will see, the “security” at stake is not that of the Mexican people, but that of the American corporate elite, and its allied lackeys, the Mexican authorities, who want to guarantee the returns of their investments and the plundering of Mexican resources, and for that they need to ensure the political stability of the country.
The Plan Mexico is an adaptation of the Plan Colombia with some changes, for it also uses the argument of fighting the drug cartels and trafficking in order to increase the control of the US over a colonial or semicolonial country. We see the Plan Mexico as part of the recolonization launched in the region, which has deepened with the economic crisis.

The Militarization of Mexico Under US Control

Initially the Plan Mexico was supposed to last 3 years, with a total investment of $1,400 millions, which were mainly directed at arming the Mexican state apparatus in order to lead the drug trafficking. This plan, however, has been extended by the Obama administration beyond its initial duration, almost doubling the initially estimated investment. Between 2008 and 2015, the U.S. government has spent more than $2,500 million in the Merida Initiative.[1]
The three most important sections of the plan are the war on drugs, the strengthening of the Mexican military apparatus and the “economic and social support” so Mexico will “modernize” its judicial and legislative systems, following the US directives. Yet, the largest part of the funds (86%) went directly to military equipment and the feeding of the urban warfare, which is causing thousands of civilian deaths. The money did not go to the war on drug traffickers by attacking its causes. Not a cent has been spent in drug prevention or rehabilitation.
Concretely, what the plan outlines it to contribute materially to equip the Mexican army and police. Besides a huge number of guns and war equipment, the U.S. has already sent to the Mexican state 20 military planes, 8 helicopters, for a total of $873 millions.[2]
Besides, the U.S. Department of Defense has led numerous pilot trainings to the state forces (police and military), teaching them interrogations techniques among others. Since 2007, the US government has spent $146 millions in training the Mexican security forces.
In 1946, the United States created the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), which is also known as the “School of the Americas” (SOA). The SOA is financed by the Pentagon and its goal was to train militias and guerrillas to infiltrate and destroy political regimes considered as “communists” in the continent. Since the 80s, and with the excuse of the “War on Drugs” the US began training the Mexican military (and also the Colombian) in its base at Fort Benning, teaching also torture methods. The Merida Initiative is a continuation of that: in the last 4 years, Obama and Peña Nieto agreed that the institute will train 16,000 policemen in the training camp of Puebla.[3]
Even though many activists know about the scandalous SOA, it is less known that the DOD has a military program, NORTHCOM, that trained 8,300 Mexican military between 2010 and 2013.[4]
The fact that the US government and its contractors are training the security forces of Mexico is by no means a guarantee that they will respect human rights, quite the opposite. In July 2008 a set of videos showing how the corporation Risk Incorporated trained policemen of León (Guanajuato) in torture techniques went viral.[5] The police chief of the city admitted the facts and defended the legitimacy of the training. These are not isolated cases, but a shared plan from both governments.

The Consequences for the Mexican People


A Balance of Plan Colombia: more drugs and more repression

The “Cleaning” plan of Calderon and his open war on drugs, with the militarization of the State will not end drug trafficking for sure. And for working people, this joint plan of imperialist collaboration, far from meaning more “security”, is turning out to bring more misery, more repression of any popular dissent and more violence.
The war on drugs did not bring trafficking control and reduction. What is happening in Mexico is the same it happened in Colombia. Laura Carlsen, who investigated Colombia Plan effects asserts that: “In the last 7 years, the White House has spent around 6 billion dollars in Colombia Plan to supposedly wage the war on drugs. 76% was destined to the Colombian army and the results are well known: Colombia is still the main cocaine provider to US markets, its price decreased and its quality increased.[6]
The coca growing increased around 15% in Colombia since Colombia Plan started. Furthermore United Nations Refugees High Commissariat evaluates that between 2001 and 2005 (precisely the Colombia Plan period) around 1.5 million people were displaced. The arbitrary arrests also increased from 2.869 (1996-2002) to 6.332 (2002-2004). The Plan Mexico has the same logic than the Plan Colombia.

The Criminalization of Social Protest

The Mexican State has a known history of repressing native movements in Chiapas, teachers in Oaxaca (62 were killed), and any other workers resistance or strikes. Therefore all state reinforcement is an open attack on the workers. The massacre of Ayotzinapa and the imprisonment of Nestora Salgado are deeply linked to this wave of criminalization of social protest, where the state becomes a direct agent of repression.
The Plan Mexico is very much linked to the increase of violence, abuses and murders among civilians, and the more than 26,000 disappeared reported since 2006.[7] According to the Comité Cerezo Mexico, which studies state crimes against human rights, during the Calderon government (2006-2012) there were 999 arbitrary detentions of social activists, 67 extrajudicial executions and 55 disappeared. Yet for Peña Nieto’s the number are equally terrifying: 1298 arbitrary detentions and 47 executions. And of course these are not official figures, so the real numbers are very like bigger.
The tight links between the army, the police and the drug cartels are not a secret anymore in Mexico. Since 2006, around 16,000 soldiers have deserted the army and most of them went to work for the different narco bands and cartels.[8] A report by Human Rights Watch from 2013 pointed out that between 2007 and 2012, the very Mexican army opened 5,700 for violñations of human rights coming from their ranks, but only condemned 38 of them.[9]

Obama: a New Face for the Bush Doctrine in Latin America

Obama supported and expanded the Mexico Plan. Did anything change? The ways to implement the strategy changed, becoming more negotiated and “bilateral”, less arrogant, but unfortunately the recolonization strategy did not. After the military defeat in Iraq, the Us government had to resort to more diplomatic manners.
In 2011, Obama not only renewed but he expanded the Merida Initiative by adding the CARSI (Central American Regional Security Initiative). Between 2008 and 2013, both programs received more than $2,000 and $574 respectively.[10] But Obama recognizes Mexico under the veil of “democracy”, “human rights” and “security”.
In the context of the economic crisis and still slow recovery of US imperialism, the Plan Mexico is part of the attempt to rebuild profits on the back of workers. Both the SPP and the Plan Mexico i accomplishes three main objectives that serve US corporations.
First, it delivers an immediate response to increasing social struggles against the Mexican government and foreign corporations. The only safety which is actually dealt with is the US and European corporations one. Secondly it props up the arms and new technologies industries which will get the lion share through private contracts.
But most importantly, it advances the recolonization of Mexico as the Plan puts under increasing direct US control central state institutions (army, police, courts) and allows military presence inside Mexico, as it happened in Colombia. It allows an acceleration of the plundering of resources, a degradation of labor conditions and a tighter control of the border and immigrant labor force flows.  The working class, worldwide, must oppose this plan for improving repressive state role against workers and for assaulting Mexican State independence!

Peña Nieto: End ALL political repression to social activists and civilians now!

Down with Plan Mexico/Merida Initiative, NAFTA and the SPP!

Immediate closing on the SOA/ WHINSEC!

US imperialism out of Mexico!

For a Second Mexican National Independence From Imperialism!

[1] Claire Ribando Seelke and Kristin Finklea, “US-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Merida Initiative and beyond”. Congressional Research Service, May 7th 2015.
[2] Claire Ribando Seelke and Kristin Finklea, “US-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Merida Initiative and beyond”. Congressional Research Service, May 7th 2015.
[3] http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-embattled-mexico-police-train-at-us-funded-academy-2015-6
[4] Claire Ribando Seelke and Kristin Finklea, “US-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Merida Initiative and beyond”. Congressional Research Service, May 7th 2015 y http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2014/12/us-military-s-training-mexican-security-forces-continues-human-rights-a
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9keX0rjULc
[6]  Carlsen, Laura, Primicias sobre el Plan México, 1 de junio de 2008. Narconews
[7] http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2014/12/us-military-s-training-mexican-security-forces-continues-human-rights-a
[8] http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2013/02/us-training-mexican-troops-has-escalated-step-mexico-s-murder-rate
[9] http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2014/12/us-military-s-training-mexican-security-forces-continues-human-rights-a
[10] https://nacla.org/news/2014/7/3/us-re-militarization-central-america-and-mexico-0

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