Translated by the Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective
The tragic conditions that the people of Mexico have been experiencing have been worsened by Plan Mérida (the Mérida Initiative). The Mexican and United States governments are desperately trying to convince us that it’s a beneficial project for both parties involved. The reality is quite the opposite. It is a project which does exactly the opposite of what the policy objectives state that it will do. The official description of this plan, which includes Central America, states these four main objectives:
- Affect the operational capacity of organized crime
- Institutionalize the ability to maintain the rule of law
- Create the border system of the 21st century
- Build strong and resilient communities
The following is an analysis of the main effects that have resulted from each of the specific objectives of the initiative. Eight years ago it was approved and implemented by the governments of Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush, and today it continues with the current rulers of both countries.
1. Affect the operational capacity of organized crime. Under the dynamics of a narco-state, leadership changes in the realm of criminal organizations are the norm, not the exception. There is a constant struggle for power and when a leader falls, a vacuum of power is created and filled by another.
- When you destroy those controlling the drug trade without attacking the root causes of the problem, it only causes a realignment of forces, where new leaders or even new organizations emerge.
- The arrests of drug lords have been achieved without the Mérida Initiative. Let’s not forget that periodically (and before this plan was approved) the government has “captured” drug lords and some of those arrests coincidentally happen at critical moments – that is, when the government has a strong motive for distracting the public, or when they must react due to external factors.
- One of the clauses of the Mérida Initiative includes the training of police officers and members of the armed forces in US military institutions. This measure only increases violence and the ability of criminal organizations because individuals, and eventually, complete military command structures are passed to the service of criminal organizations.
2. Institutionalize the ability to maintain the rule of law. This aim of the Mérida Initiative is the easiest to question.
- The rule of law exists only where there is democracy. The massacres, the daily violation of citizens’ rights, forced disappearance of citizens by the state’s own forces, the lack of ability to react, or in some cases to react negatively to citizen demands, are a reality as Plan Mérida has only helped to weaken the rule of law.
- There must be checks and balances in the rule of law preventing the arbitrariness of individuals. Where are the laws that punish corruption cases involving the government, from the president to the members of all political parties? The extent of corruption is so extensive in depth and breadth that this initiative seems to have been written solely to protect corruption in Mexico.
- The rule of law has been violated and undermined, and the normal life of almost every citizen has been impacted. No matter to what degree the citizen is physically affected, the mental effect and psychological imbalance has been upset, because one lives under constant threat of being attacked, kidnapped or killed. In many cases, some give into the worst: fear, because our biggest concern is the safety of our families.
3. Create the border system of the 21st century. If by border system they mean to put the governments of Mexico and Central America at the service of US immigration policy then yes, it has served its purpose.
- The brothers and sisters who come from Central America face the violation of their basic rights at the hands of the Mexican government and criminal gangs that usually are difficult to differentiate. With this plan, and contrary to the hospitality and caring tradition of the Mexican people, Mexican immigration services add another shame: servitude to the US government. Basically, the Mexican migra is now the executive arm of US immigration policy in Mexico and along the border with Guatemala.
- The depths of the deterioration of national sovereignty began with the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement signed in the eighties. In its most clear function, the FTA was created to eliminate barriers to transnational monopolies, two of which are not officially recognized: drug trafficking first, and weapons next.
4. Build strong and resilient communities. Like the other three, this objective has left a legacy of destruction and abandonment.
- Appearances seemingly matter more than the truth. In the City of Juárez, the creation of a program was financed to combat drug addiction but it stopped working once the facilities were constructed.
- In Guerrero and Sinaloa, two of the states that should reflect on the effectiveness of this program, are where the largest displacement of entire communities have taken place due to drug trafficking. In Sinaloa in 2014, 40 communities were displaced; in the same year in Guerrero, out of 5 municipalities, 25 entire towns were forced to abandon their homes.
- It is well known that in areas where there are both legal and illegal strategic businesses, the narco-state, has been merciless with the civilian population. The region where the Rural Normal of Ayotzinapa is located is the perfect example: it has some of the most productive gold and silver mines of Mexico and has one of the main areas producing poppy and opium “gum”. When relatives of the 43 missing students began to look for their loved ones, they found countless mass graves. Here we have the example of the “strong and resilient communities” that were created by the Mérida Initiative, one of the many pretenses of this plan.
After all of this questioning of Plan Mérida, the question must be asked: Why was it implemented? What are its results?
- The dominant phenomenon of Plan Merida is that it has contributed to the reinforcement of the “Shock Doctrine” explained in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. The influx of weapons and the state of terror and destruction that it has caused in states such as Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Oaxaca and more recently, Jalisco, are the best evidence that the state offers to show that it must keep terrorizing the population. In the rest of the country, in regions or states that are not characterized by living in these conditions of daily or direct violence, people are still victims of the same phenomenon because they live in constant anxiety and fear knowing that at any time they may be intimidated, threatened, kidnapped, raped, imprisoned unjustly or simply killed.
- The reality seen daily in the street and in the lives of Mexican men and women is grim. The Mérida Initiative has increased the violence, has further reduced the rights of individual citizens, has eroded and in many ways has destroyed democracy. The political system has become a puppeteer of these abuses from which the population suffers, at the hands of criminals both with and without a suit and tie. The level of cynicism and cruelty against the civilian population has no parallel in our history.
- It has led to the entry of huge quantities of weapons. Recent investigations have shown that weapons originally imported for police and military forces have passed into the hands of criminal gangs.
Finally, the two most important points are that there is substantial weaponry being provided from one side to treat a phenomenon has mainly economic and political roots. The problem is manifested in violence, but is dealt with only through violent means: military force. Plan Mérida does not attack the causes: poverty, the lack of job opportunities, and the corruption of the political system. It only attacks the symptoms and it does so incorrectly. And this happens perhaps because the provisions on how to deal with the problem are imposed on the Mexican government from the outside. Never in the history of our country has there been a policy so submissively carried out on the part of the Mexican government. That is, keeping in mind that it was difficult to overcome others like that of Antonio López de Santa Ana.
The second point, is betting on a violent solution. For a long time after the Mexican Revolution, our society, even with all its evils, had existed as a people without weapons. Now, in accordance with the provisions and economic interests of international arms manufacturers, the country has been flooded with weapons of all kinds.
This year alone, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto procured military equipment for the Secretariat of National Defense at a cost of $1.3 billion dollars. Another indicator of the dangerous path that our country has been taken on is the importing of weapons. Mexico went from the 25th place to the 5th in welcoming the US arms industry.
It is the moral obligation of all citizens on both sides of the border to demand the immediate cancellation of Plan Mérida (Mérida Initiative).
The Mérida Initiative is part of a more bloodthirsty and destructive project: they are using the governments of both countries to keep the population under continued threat, fear, and intimidation.
Plan Mérida has created a state of chaos and confusion that has allowed the government to take on the most submissive character in the history of Mexico, approving law after law that serves to siphon off natural resources to national and multinational corporations without a popular fightback.
Plan Mérida , with the violence it has generated, has put the brakes on ending the corruption that has reached unprecedented levels in the country.
Finally, Plan Mérida is opposed to the autonomy of the communities and the existence of community police officers and leaders. Nestora Salgado is one of the victims of this plan because her case clearly demonstrates the uselessness of Mexico’s law enforcement bodies in the communities most affected by the violence. The arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the leader of the Community Police of Olinalá, Guerrero, exposes the true nature of Plan Mérida: it does the opposite of what it claims it will do. Instead of supporting the creation of strong and safe communities, their leaders are attacked in order to destroy community projects and leave the people at the mercy of criminal gangs and the narco- government. The success of Nestora Salgado and other community leaders and political prisoners in Guerrero’s communities is the response to Plan Merida, as this woman’s work shows that communities can live peacefully without foreign military assistance.
Stop Plan Mérida, because it is killing our communities!
Stop Plan Mérida because it is responsible for increasing violence in Mexico and Central America!
Stop Plan Mérida; by staying true to its real destructive objectives, it has led the comrade Nestora Salgado to the brink of death!
Immediate freedom for Nestora Salgado and all political prisoners!