Below is a sign-on letter to oppose additional U.S. funds to the Merida Initiative for the disastrous drug war. We have already received an incredible response from all over the Hemisphere. We believe this is a critical juncture, as homicides and human rights violations increase in Mexico and citizens in both countries reject militarization as a strategy to weaken organized crime. This week is the fourth anniversary of the murder of journalist Brad Will, a classic case of impunity in Mexico. We urge you to join us and the hundreds of organizations and individuals listed below in signing this statement. The movement against the drug war enforcement/interdiction approach is getting stronger in light of the history of failure and enormous cost in lives and resources that it entails. It is unconscionable that the US government continues to support it. This is the time to make our voices heard.
US Army/TRADOC Embroiled in Another Controversy
by John Stanton
“We call upon indigenous peoples in this country and around the world not to be fooled by these types of research projects, which usurp traditional knowledge without prior consent. Although researchers may initially claim to be conducting the projects in “good faith”, said knowledge could be used against the indigenous peoples in the future. “UNOSJO is against this kind of project being carried out in the Sierra Juárez and distances itself completely from the work compiled by the México Indígena research team.”
On January 14, 2009 the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) issued a press release accusing the principal researchers/managers of the Mexican Indigena—a program in the larger Bowman Expeditions —of unethical conduct for not fully disclosing that the US Army is a sponsor of the Bowman Expeditions. They also accuse the principals of geopiracy. According to a member of the anthropology community, “This is a nasty little story.”
By Saulo Araujo
January 22nd, 2009
The Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) – a longtime partner of Grassroots International based in Mexico – denounced a recently conducted study in the Zapotec region by U.S. geography scholar Peter Herlihy. Prof. Herlihy failed to mention that he received funding from the Foreign Military Studies Office of the U.S. Armed Forces. The failure to obtain full, free and prior informed consent is a violation of the rights of indigenous communities as codified in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in 2007. In addition, UNOSJO fears that this in-depth geographical mapping of indigenous communities may be used in some harmful manner by the military.
Arrest the Killers
When Brad was killed, the people photographed firing guns at the protesters were police, police commanders, and operatives and bodyguards for the PRI party, including Pedro Carmona, Abel Santiago Zarate aka “El Chino,” Juan Carlo Soriano aka “El Chapulin,” Commander Manuel Aguilar Coello, and Juan Sumano. They are directly linked to the corrupt Governor Ulises Ruiz, and we demand their arrest.
Drop False Charges, Release Political Prisoners
Since Brad’s death, Ulises Ruiz’ government has been attempting to bring charges for Brad’s killing against Brad’s friends, APPO people, witnesses, and those who risked their lives trying to get Brad to a hospital. We join the National Commission on Human Rights, and Reporters Without Borders in finding these attempts to be an absurd and outrageous attempt to divert attention from the real killers. We demand an end to this smokescreen and the punishment of innocent people including Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, Hugo Colmenares Leyva, and Octavio Perez Perez.
October 1st, 2008 – by Kristin Bricker: Military convoys patrol the streets. Soldiers kick down doors to carry out warrantless house searches, terrorizing families in the name of “security.” At military checkpoints, nervous, trigger-happy soldiers massacre families. Soldiers rape young girls with impunity. US-based private contractors teach police sadistic variations on waterboarding.
This is not occupied Iraq. This is Mexico. The “war” on organized crime is Mexico’s “war on terror.” President Felipe Calderón kicked this endless war into high gear when he deployed 25,000 federal soldiers into drug-cartel dominated states just days after he took office, thanks to widespread electoral fraud. He claims this exponential increase in the militarization of Mexican society is necessary to reclaim territory occupied and dominated by drug cartels. However, civil society organizations on both sides of the border see it as his attempt to bolster his weak presidency with a strong military alliance against an internal enemy – historically a popular strategy among dictators.
Plan Mexico, officially called the Merida Initiative, is a $1.4 billion U.S. aid package to Mexico in order to “fight drugs.” Mexico’s law enforcement is extremely corrupt; its members consume the drugs themselves and commit hundreds of human rights violations with impunity. This video shows a peaceful community in southern Mexico that was recently invaded and threatened by Mexican law enforcement, shortly after the U.S. House voted to approve Plan Mexico. Our tax dollars would be spent on these kinds of abuses. It’s important to urge the Senate to stop this initiative.
As Congress enters the final stages to approve the Merida Initiative, an aid package to Mexico and Central America that seeks to further militarize the region under the guise of the U.S.’s “war on drugs/war on terror,” we find manifold reasons to stand in opposition:
1) Money for Central America through the Merida Initiative would mark a significant increase in funding for military/police equipment and training in the region at a time when the need is for anti-poverty and crime-prevention programs.
The Merida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico, builds on the troubling model of Plan Colombia, which has poured billions of dollars into a failed military approach to combating drugs while doing little to address rural poverty and urban unemployment.