Monday, January 12, 2009
Merida Initiative Funds Flowing: $99 million
Payable to Mexico
Statement by Ambassador Antonio O. Garza
"As we begin a new year, I am gratified at how far
the United States and Mexico have come in realizing a deeper, more meaningful partnership. A major factor in that partnership
over the next few years will be the implementation of programs under the Merida Initiative.
"It was a real honor for me to represent my country
in signing the Letter of Agreement between the United States and Mexico that freed up $197 million of the $400 million authorized
for the first year of the Merida Initiative. I witnessed history when Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice conducted the first meeting of the Merida Initiative High-Level Consultative Group on December 19,
establishing a mechanism that will guarantee continued close cooperation in implementing these crucial programs.
"Late last year, after detailed consultation with Mexican
authorities, $99 million in funding under the Merida Initiative was allocated to Mexico through the Defense Security Cooperation
Agency. These funds are currently being programmed to purchase aircraft and non-intrusive inspection equipment for the
Mexican military, which will give it additional capability to support efforts to secure its national territory, both land
and maritime, and to detect smuggling of drugs, cash and weapons. Although this is a long term process, we expect that
Mexico will begin receiving some of this equipment as early as this fall.
"Additional funds have been made available to the U.S.
Agency for International Development to continue programs they have been conducting for Mexican justice officials and civil
society to support Mexico’s ongoing programs to increase governmental transparency and accountability.
"I am confident that the incoming administration will
remain committed to our shared goals with Mexico under the Merida Initiative, reducing the threat of crime and violence associated
with narcotrafficking on both sides of the border. Our successes in this shared fight over the past years will help
cement that commitment and continue building the secure, safe communities that Mexico and the United States deserve."
Antonio O. Garza is U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; Embassy
News and Information, Mexico City, January 7, 2009