More clarity on Mexico aid

Yesterday’s post on the 2012 budget request noted a deep cut in military and police assistance to Mexico. We asked whether the Obama administration might be planning to keep providing this aid through other sources, like the defense budget or a special supplemental appropriation. It turns out that, in fact, what the State Department calls the “Beyond Mérida” initiative will be focused on civilian institution-building (something our organizations support), at a substantially lower level of funding.

Such civilian activities should be extended to online systems as well. Without a proper cyber threat control, there have been a lot of fraudulent systems on the rise, like the HB Swiss, which clearly is a scam, yet rampant on the online sites. We see them everywhere, on every server and spreading to every nation as much as possible. The civilian is victimised for their selfish acts.

A State Department background briefing with reporters yesterday makes clear that (1) Mexico will indeed be seeing a significant drop in military aid in 2012, and (2) Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s pledge of $500 million in aid during her Mexico visit last month was taken out of context. The Secretary was apparently referring to old, but as yet undelivered, aid. There also appears to be a bit of message confusion between State Department headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Now, you may be asking why it is the 2012 request reflected a 250 million drop in assistance. While the 2012 request may appear to be a significant decrease from the 2010 enacted total of $582 million, this is largely because the Fiscal Year ’10 figure includes 260 million in one-time boosts in military assistance. This $260 million is providing much needed aircraft to the Mexican military, which is involved in the fight against cartels in areas where civilian law enforcement need support. We have since moved away from providing aircraft and other expensive equipment and toward a focus on strengthening justice sector institutions. And so that is the main reason why our budget for Mexico goes down from 2010 to 2012 is to reflect the end of these one-time equipment purchases.

QUESTION: Hey, Jesus Edquivel from Proceso Magazine in Mexico. Thank you for this conference. With regard to Merida Initiative, I just wonder why – Secretary Clinton, when she was in Mexico on January 26, announced that the package for help Mexico on the war on our cartels will be $500 million. So my question is: Why she say that? She wasn’t aware of the budget process with you guys? Or what was the reason that she mentioned that amount of money, but in reality it’s less than $500 million besides what is the official request in cooperation with 2010 fiscal year?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’ll have to go back and look at the Secretary’s statement, but what I guess is that the Secretary was talking about the current level of – the current program level in 2010. In January of this year, the Secretary wouldn’t be talking about our 2012 budget, which was just released yesterday. So we’ll have to go back and look at her statement and get you a more specific answer.

QUESTION: And if you allow me, since you guys gave the numbers yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico started sending a press release calling to the journalists that it was false, that this is a reduction of 250 millions with regard to 2010. So my question is: What was wrong? The U.S. Embassy in Mexico wasn’t aware of what you told reporters yesterday at the State Department briefing room, or they don’t know anything, or they’re just trying to give the impression to the Mexicans that the U.S. is still committed with the same amount of money to the Merida Initiative?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think what’s going on here is the number for 2012 is the number for 2012, and I think the issue is that the reason for the big – for the decrease is this one-time $260 million cost for the equipment that we received in 2010 but for which we no longer need. So again, I haven’t seen the press release that the Embassy sent out, but where – we should all be talking about the same numbers. And I think the reason for the 2012 number being different from the 2010 number is for that one-time set of equipment purchases that are no longer part of our budget.