Merida Initiative: the decline of the security partnership

27/10/2020

The collaboration between Mexico and the United States contemplated in the Merida Initiative alliance, whose objective is the fight against organized crime and crime prevention, is blurred every year due to the lack of interest on the part of the leaders of both countries to increase their efforts.

The Merida Initiative, the master plan for collaboration in the binational fight against drug trafficking, ceased to shine. While it is not an effort that should be forgotten, it has been left aside by both governments.

The Mexican Ministry of the Interior centralized the information, while the United States opted to reduce the aid, which is not only in terms of economic resources, but also in terms of training courses, and at the beginning, there were even donations of airplanes and computers.

Since it is an alliance not agreed on paper, everything depends on the parties, and although the Merida Initiative had its golden age with Felipe Calderon, today it is living through times of crisis, since with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador it is not having momentum.

The main objective of this plan was to strengthen security collaboration in order to reduce the operational capacity of criminal groups in Mexico. The first thought was to orient the cooperation in security matters towards the dismantling of criminal groups, capturing the leaders. This was part of Felipe Calderón's security strategy and continued with Peña Nieto.

In the first years of the Merida Initiative -which began in 2008- the operational capacities of the Mexican Armed Forces, as well as those of the justice and public security agencies were considered to be increased. This is where the greatest amount of technical resources, from airplanes and helicopters to computers, were sent in those two years. In the following years, already with Peña Nieto, there was an important change in the framework of cooperation provided by the Merida Initiative.

On the U.S. side was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there was the Department of Justice and of course the Department of Defense and the Department of State. What that generated was that there was a very important segmentation in the exchange of information, there was no way to centralize that intelligence information and that was the change that Peña Nieto proposed and implemented.

It is evident that there is a change in the relationship between Mexico and the United States in terms of the fight against drug trafficking and proof of this is the detention of General Salvador Cienfuegos in the United States, which has been interpreted, in addition to a "discourtesy" of the government of Donald Trump, as an unequivocal sign of distrust towards the Mexican authorities, who were never officially notified of the investigations of the former Secretary of National Defense.

The Merida Initiative has been left out, its objectives and initial actions have gradually been blurred, and now there does not seem to be an adequate context to revive this plan because of all that has been happening. This fading is related to the fact that there is no official document, in addition to the fact that it is evident that between Trump and AMLO there is not now the same relationship as with the previous leaders.

The key result of the fall of the Merida Initiative

The arrest of former National Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles, California, could be the prelude to a change in the binational fight against organized crime. The Merida Initiative directs public funds, but not at the will of the U.S. president; instead, they are authorized each year by the U.S. Congress.

The Merida Initiative emerges as a need for the United States to have greater cooperation with the Mexican government, not so much for crop eradication, apprehending the bosses and all that, but to establish a permanent collaboration link precisely with the Navy.

The United States will seek a rethinking of this pact because it is in the interest of the northern country to have permanent cooperation with the Armed Forces and share intelligence operations, things facilitated by the Merida Initiative. This cooperation has diminished over the years.