Press Releases 09
Approved Budget Continues Counter-Drug Cooperation with Mexico
Mexico City, March 11, 2009 – President Obama today signed into law the 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill, which includes $300 million for Merida Initiative implementation in Mexico, as well as $105 million for its implementation in Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Merida Initiative represents a more than ten-fold increase in annual security cooperation with Mexico over 2007 levels.
This renewed funding, when combined with the $400 million made available late last year, demonstrates the United States’ continued and serious commitment to its shared responsibility in working with Mexico to confront drug trafficking and organized crime. This commitment was strongly reiterated by Congressional delegations that visited Mexico last month, and is reflected by ongoing, high-level consultations between the United States and Mexico. Our aim is the effective implementation of the Merida Initiative, and we are determined to cooperate fully across the board to ensure our mutual security.
Bilateral working groups, co-chaired by Mexican and U.S. officials, have met several times to do the real work of getting Merida projects moving, ranging from provision of equipment, to training and capacity building.
Mexican and U.S. officials at the highest level will soon meet to discuss further ways of staunching the flow of weapons into Mexico. And the United States government continues to go after criminals associated with drug trafficking in our country, and to work to reduce the demand for narcotics among our population, committing $14.1 billion to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill directs $234 million to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which includes operations in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The U.S. has added $40 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for increased law enforcement efforts on our shared border, including $10 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco to expand efforts to halt gunrunning into Mexico. These funds come on top of budget increases to other U.S. agencies working with Mexico to combat organized crime and the cartels.
The inclusion of Merida funding in the 2009 budget demonstrates our long-term commitment to see these efforts through to the end – blunting the power and capabilities of the cartels and improving the safety and security of people in both our countries.