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Merida Initiative - The Next Step

A border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico.
A border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Merida Initiative is a security cooperation agreement between the U.S. and Mexico.

"The U.S.- Mexican bilateral relationship has never been stronger than it is right now," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson during her recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "And it continues to grow stronger still, based not on personal ties or short-term projects but on the kind of strong, multi-layered institutional ties that endure and evolve."

The Merida Initiative is a security cooperation agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. The legislation was signed on June 30, 2008. It is a multi-year program that has provided some 1.3 billion dollars in assistance to Mexico. Initially, the program funded the purchase of equipment and technology, as well as training.

But now, the plan is shifting toward further institutionalizing Mexican capacity to sustain adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights, build strong institutions, promote full civil society participation, transform the nature of our borders, and by providing intensive technical assistance and training.

In her testimony, Assistant Secretary Jacobson enumerated the Initiative's four goals as: disrupting the ability of organized crime to operate; strengthening institutions to sustain the rule of law and human rights; building a 21st-century border that prevents drug and human smuggling to the north, and movement of money and arms to the south; and fostering strong and resilient communities.

"We are moving away from big ticket equipment," said Deputy Secretary of State Jacobson. "We are accelerating our efforts to support stronger democratic institutions in Mexico, especially the police and justice sector, expanding our border focus beyond interdiction of contraband to include facilitation of legitimate trade and travel, and cooperating in building stronger communities that are resistant to the corrupting influence of organized crime."

"The United States and Mexico are committed to improve the lives of all citizens in both our countries, building upon our deep ties, and working with mutual respect and mutual responsibility," said Deputy Secretary Jacobson. "We will continue to work closely with the Government of Mexico through the Merida Initiative and other avenues to achieve these goals."