Monday, November 7, 2011

Mérida Initiative takes off in Maryland

By Edward V. Byrne for The Yucatan Times
October 18, 2011

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The Mérida Initiative is an agreement between the United States and Mexico which contains provisions for the training and equipping of Mexican police forces, as well as for intelligence gathering and sharing. The name derives from meetings held by former President George Bush and President Calderon in Mérida in 2007.

The U.S. State Department announced October 14 that a group of over 400 Mexican state police officers will begin receiving "professional enhancement" training soon at a Maryland facility. The officers were selected from Mexico's 31 states and federal district. "These participants will be trained (in techniques) useful for confronting the threat presented by drug cartels along the border," said a State Department press release.

Last April U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa held a meeting in Washington to review the Mérida Initiative. They agreed that the primary focus now should be on training state police forces, which are at the forefront of the war against organized crime. The Mexican armed forces are trained internally, and local police departments are much less actively involved in offensives against the drug cartels. Local police in many areas are infiltrated by criminal elements, and state police spend considerable time and resources weeding out corruption in their ranks.

More on the Mérida Initiative:

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