The Merida Initiative: Expanding the U.S./Mexico Partnership
“And the United States remains committed to helping the Mexican Government go after the cartels and organized crime and the corruption they generate... And we will continue, through the Merida Initiative, to provide significant support.” – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Merida Initiative is an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law. Based on principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect for sovereign independence, the two countries’ efforts have built confidence that is transforming the bilateral relationship.
The Four Pillars of Merida:
- Disrupt Organized Criminal Groups
- Strengthen Institutions
- Build a 21st Century Border
Build Strong and Resilient Communities
Enhancing Citizen Safety
Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has forged strong partnerships to improve citizen safety in affected areas to fight drug trafficking, organized crime, corruption, illicit arms trafficking, money-laundering, and demand for drugs on both sides of the border.
Bilateral efforts are being accelerated to support Mexico’s institutions, especially police and justice systems at both the federal and state level; to expand our border focus beyond interdiction of contraband to include facilitation of legitimate trade and travel; and to build strong and resilient communities able to withstand the pressures of crime and violence.
Merida Programs and Activities
The U.S. Congress has appropriated $1.6 billion since the Merida Initiative began in Fiscal Year 2008. Under the partnership:
- Mexico’s air mobility in counternarcotics and other security operations increased through the delivery of multiple aircraft for law enforcement and military entities;
- The United States is supporting Mexico’s implementation of comprehensive justice sector reforms through the training of prosecutors, defenders, investigators, and forensic experts, and through judicial exchanges and partnerships between Mexican and U.S. law schools;
- Merida funding established 12 and strengthened 48 Alternative Justice Centers, which use alternative mechanisms, such as mediation, for minor offenses. This allows cases to proceed more quickly and reduces court congestion, allowing the system to focus on more serious crimes;
- The United States is helping to strengthen Mexican law enforcement institutions through trainings for Accredited State Police units in Mexico’s three priority states of Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and Nuevo Leon;
- The Mexican government, with Merida funds, established a corrections academy to train Mexican federal and state correctional staff in Xalapa, Veracruz;
- The United States provided scanners, x-ray machines, other non-intrusive inspection equipment, and trained canines to enhance Mexican authorities’ ability to detect illicit goods at key checkpoints and ports of entry;
- The United States launched a 30-month Crime & Violence Prevention project to strengthen Mexico’s capacity to develop and communicate crime prevention policy at the federal, state, and community level. Support to localities will assist with the design and implementation of crime prevention plans, urban and social planning, and community policing;
- Merida funds support Mexican government and civil society efforts to protect journalists and human rights defenders; and
- With Merida support, Mexico launched an Information Technology platform to link more than 300 addiction resource centers in support of a national drug demand reduction program.