The drug fueled violence along the Southwest Border, highlighted by the recent murder of two United States citizens in Ciudad Juarez, has again focused the White House on Plan Merida. It comes at a time when the US continues to send mixed signals on its narcotics enforcement position.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading a high level delegation to Mexico City this week to discuss the drug war and social issues that fuel the narcotics trade. Included in the delegation are DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Admiral Michael Mullen. Not included in the delegation is California Secretary of State Debra Bowen who announced this week that voters will decide in November whether to legalize marijuana use for Californians over 21 years of age. The last time I checked, a large area of California directly borders Mexico.
The delegation will arrive to hear complaints from the Mexican government that the Plan Merida aid is slow in arriving and has not done enough to help. Plan Merida is a $1.4 billion US initiative established in 2007 to provide direct support to the government of Mexico in its fight against the drug cartels. As of November of 2009, the US government has delivered $214 million of the $1.4 billion.
Not many will doubt that the Plan Merida assistance is warranted and necessary, as it is clearly in the best interest of the US to assist Mexico in its attempt to close the “pipeline” that ships over $40 billion in illegal drugs north each year. But how does the US government reconcile its pro-enforcement narcotics position in light of the emerging attempts to further legalize narcotics usage in the US.