U.S. Withdraws Drug War Funding From Mexico Over Human Rights Abuses

By May Wilkerson 10/21/15

Mexico is feeling the backlash for its alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of 43 students last year.

Protestors at Mexican Consulate
Protestors outside the Mexican consulate demanding answers for the Ayotzinapa murders. Shutterstock

The United States is reportedly withdrawing a portion of its federal aid from anti-drug war efforts in Mexico on account of the country’s disastrous human rights record and failed efforts at limiting the drug trade.

Since 2008, the United States has sent funds to Mexico through the Mérida Initiative, which helps provide helicopters and extra border security, and aids the militarization of Mexico's police force in fighting against the drug cartels.

However, the White House decided this year that Mexico has not “met the criteria” for receiving funding. According to the State Department’s 2014 annual human rights report, the country has not taken any steps toward addressing human rights abuses, which include Mexican authorities committing “arbitrary or unlawful killings, often with impunity,” in addition to accusations of torture and reports of disappearances of citizens at the hands of security forces.

As a result, the U.S. government reportedly plans to reroute 15% of its budget, or $5 million, to anti-drug efforts in Peru instead.

“From time to time, countries are unable to meet the reporting criteria as required by Congress,” said the State Department in a statement. “This year, we were unable to certify that Mexico fully meets the criteria.”

In the past year, Mexico’s failure to investigate the September 2014 case of 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students in the state of Guerrero has spurred protests throughout the country and a wave of international criticism. Over the years, thousands of forced disappearances throughout the country have not been investigated and remain unsolved.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has been accused of playing a hand in the Ayotzinapa students' disappearances, yet until now, the United States had continued to conduct business with Mexico and had not spoken out against any of the alleged human rights offenses in the country.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department said that Mexico has failed to adhere to its official policy to demonstrate “absolute respect for, and protection of, human rights.”

“They’ve handled this more with tweezers than with sledgehammers,” said Eric L. Olson, a Latin America expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington. “But it undeniably sends a signal that the U.S. is not entirely pleased.”

Since 2008, the United States has given Mexico about $2.3 billion through the Mérida Initiative, yet drug war violence has raged on and the drug trade has continued unabated.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.