International Law

Better-Targeted U.S. Aid Could Boost Mexican Anti-Violence Efforts

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Concerned citizens throughout Mexico are planning a national march against crime on Aug. 30 that is focusing, in large part, on a huge increase in kidnappings for ransom in recent years that has also affected the United States.

However, it’s going to take more than a march—and the money that the U.S. is providing to help Mexico with a war on drugs that has resulted in a spate of violence this year—to resolve the situation, writes a Miami Herald columnist.

In particular, says Andres Oppenheimer, U.S. lawmakers need to focus on the neighboring country’s kidnapping issue—there was reportedly a 9 percent increase in kidnappings in the first five months of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, and a roughly 40 percent increase since 2006. As discussed in an earlier post, the recent kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Fernando Martí has focused public outrage on the issue and led to stepped-up enforcement and police reform efforts.

Also, the increase in kidnappings isn’t just in Mexico—it has spilled over into neighboring areas of the U.S., as Mexican criminals have sought a lower-profile alternative to the drug trafficking that is increasingly a magnet for law enforcement and violence in their home country.

“The $400 million Plan Merida, a recently approved U.S. aid package to help Mexico combat drug trafficking, should have included funds to help fight kidnappings,” Oppenheimer writes. “The U.S. aid plan is almost entirely focused on anti-drug military aid.”

Related coverage: “Mexico to Amp Up War on Drugs By Doubling Federal Police” “Another Top Cop is Murdered in Mexico” “Are Criminals Winning the Mexican Drug War?”

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