Conditions On U.S. Aid In Drug Fight Anger Mexico

Conditions On U.S. Aid In Drug Fight Anger Mexico
June 7th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Conditions On U.S. Aid In Drug Fight Anger Mexico

Conditions On U.S. Aid In Drug Fight Anger Mexico
New York Times
June 7, 2008
Pg. 5
By James C. McKinley Jr.
MEXICO CITY — Few slights irk Mexican politicians so much as when Washington treats Mexico like a backward country in need of outside guidance, and that anger raged full throttle this week as top Mexican officials threatened to walk away from a major United States aid package to help defeat drug traffickers.
The reason: Democrats in the House and Senate have tied the aid to guarantees that the police and military will not violate human rights. Officials from President Felipe Calderón on down have assailed the idea that the United States Congress would withhold a quarter of the aid for Mexico if it did not meet human rights standards, calling it an attack on their sovereignty.
“The bills approved by both chambers of the United States Congress contain some aspects that make them, in their current versions, unacceptable to our country,” Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño said Monday.
A day later, President Calderón said, “My government will defend at all times its national sovereignty and the interests of Mexicans and we will act strictly in accordance with the Constitution, and, of course, we will not accept conditions that simply are unacceptable.”
A chorus of similar protests went up this week from Mexican lawmakers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, who called the bills insulting and reeking of Yankee arrogance. Some pointed out the United States had no room to talk, given the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Others said Mexico had not asked for unilateral aid from America, but a partnership in fighting crime.
Some politicians complained that drug consumption in the United States, along with the sale of arms to Mexican drug dealers by American arms merchants, were driving the violence here. “The only thing we need is for them to stop selling arms to narcotics traffickers,” said Javier González Garza, the leader of the left-wing opposition party in the Chamber of Deputies.
Democratic leaders in the United States Congress, however, have stood firm. They refused to hand over $350 million to $400 million in aid, including Black Hawk helicopters, to military and police forces with a checkered human rights history unless they got assurances that abuses would be prevented and prosecuted.
One issue bothering officials here is that Mexican soldiers, under the Constitution, cannot be tried in civil court. The Senate version of the bill would impose that requirement. Human rights advocates in Mexico and in Washington have urged Congress to use the bill to force Mexico to hold people responsible for such abuses, just as Congress has done with aid to other nations, like Colombia.
In 2007, five people were reported to have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed by Mexican soldiers, according to Amnesty International. In addition, soldiers last year killed two children and three adults at a checkpoint, apparently by mistake, according to news reports.
President Bush and his aides say the Democrats are wrong to insert human rights conditions in an aid package that the administration thinks is vital for a government in a death struggle with drug cartels.
Beyond the substance of the debate is a historic touchiness among Mexican officials about what they view as preaching on human rights, democracy and other ideals from the superpower that invaded them in the 19th century. Put bluntly, they hate it.
Since Mr. Calderón came to office in December 2006, he has sent thousands of federal police officers and troops to reclaim cities and states where traffickers controlled local officials through bribes and threats.
The offensive has unleashed a war among different cartels that has killed more than 4,000 people, among them about 450 soldiers, police officers and public officials, the authorities here say.
The Mexican attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, said in an interview that his government was committed to stopping abuses by the police and soldiers who have intervened in areas once controlled by drug dealers.
“Mexico is the one most interested in human rights,” he said. “If we lose the general public’s respect, we lose the ability to fight this war.”

Similar Topics
Sunni Forces Losing Patience With U.S.
U.S. Troops 'Ready' To Aid Pakistan
Mexico Launches 8th Offensive In Its Drive Against Drug Cartels
U.S. gives Kenya aid to fight terrorism (AP)
U.S. Pulls Out Of Coca Region