Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is expected to review security agreements with the United States, including the US$2.9 billion Merida initiative, a direct U.S. aid program to fight organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America.
The Plan has been implemented since 2008 and has been criticized by human rights groups for criminalizing social activism and movements. In Mexico, security forces have been involved in cases of grave violations of human rights, including the kidnapping and forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa.
“We will review initiatives such as Plan Merida,” Alfonso Durazo, who will head the new public security ministry said. According to Durazo, AMLO wants to refocus foreign aid to social and economic development projects.
The new government’s strategy to combat organized crime reveals a departure from the U.S. militaristic approach and includes granting amnesty to low-level cartel members, decriminalizing marijuana, a national plan for reparations to the victims and possibly regulating opium poppy production with the ultimate goal of reducing levels of systemic violence.
In July Mexico’s future minister of the interior and former supreme court justice Olga Sanchez stressed the importance of recovering social and economic spaces, as well as guaranteeing respect for human rights to wage an effective battle against violence and impunity.
“Military collaboration is not the best way of facing the security problems in our country… We must redirect efforts to drive economic and social development in the south, including in Central America” Durazo said.
Lopez Obrador and his elected cabinet have stressed that a development strategy is the most effective to curtail illegal immigration as well as drug trafficking.
This comes as part of the president-elect's push for rethinking his country's relationship with the United States including on foreign policy.
Future foreign affairs minister Marcelo Ebrard said last month that Mexico will stick to its “non-interventionism” foreign policy towards Venezuela and Nicaragua and avoid any aggressive stance which normally responds to “an agenda promoted by the United States.”