Only 9% of the aid under the Merida Imitative has been spent between 2008 and 2010 according to the GAO report, which was presented to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere yesterday. The report noted that there was a lack of sufficient oversight over the plan including the failure of setting targets to see if aid was being spent properly. The GAO even said in their study that Mexico has purchased some equipment on its own due to the delay in receiving Merida Initiative funds.
Federal officials tried to emphasize the increased collaboration with Mexico as a positive result from the Merida Initiative. "We are determined, working with Mexico, to do everything in our power to reduce this violence," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley to the press. For one analyst, however, the GAO report shows several shortcomings of the U.S. antidrug strategy:
The shortfall in U.S. assistance hurts Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s fight against organized crime, said Adam Isacson, senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights and policy research group...The agency’s study was published days after one of the bloodiest weekends in Mexico including a car bombing and numerous shootings.
“When you consider the urgency with which politicians talk about violence in Mexico and the threat it poses to us, to have only delivered 9 percent after two years is pretty remarkable,” Isacson said in a telephone interview from Washington.
One Mexican government estimate said that almost 25,000 deaths related to organized crime have occurred since Felipe Calderon became president in December 2006.
Image- Los Angeles Times (eighteen people were killed when gunmen opened fire at a party over the weekend in Torreon, Mexico).
Online Sources- AP, The Latin Americanist, Voice of America, New York Times, Bloomberg