This initiative between the U.S., Mexico and Central America is a "security cooperation initiative with Mexico and the countries of Central America in order to combat the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism in the Western Hemisphere." The following is the joint statement issued on October 22, 2007.
The Governments of the United States and Mexico share a deep concern over the threat to our societies by drug trafficking and other criminal organizations operating on both sides of our commonborder. The growing operational and financial capabilities of criminal groups that traffic in drugs, arms, and persons, as well as other transnational criminal activity, pose a clear and present threat to the lives and well-being of U.S. and Mexican citizens. The United States and Mexico will make it a priority to break the power and impunity of drug and criminal organizations that threaten the health and public safety of their citizens and the stability and security of the region.
Both governments are profoundly committed to the concerted bilateral strategic and tactical cooperation necessary to combat effectively this criminal activity, particularly the threat it represents to our nations' youth, and to achieve the broader regional and international cooperation necessary to prevail in this fight.
The Government of Mexico has accorded the highest national priority to this objective and is deploying all the material and organizational resources available to its federal government to counter the grave threat represented by criminal organizations. Mexico has also deployed its diplomatic resources to build stronger international collaboration aimed at disrupting the networks on which these groups rely to carry out their operations. Their security spending targeting these organizations, across seven government agencies, has grown to $2.5 billion annually, an increase of 24% over the previous administration's 2006 budgeted levels.
The Government of the United States has likewise, through its federal agencies and jointly with their counterparts in Mexico, escalated its efforts to disrupt the trafficking of narcotics, money, people and arms across the border and to combat criminal organizations operating in both countries. Efforts outlined in the Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, the National Drug Control Strategy, and the U.S. Strategy for Combating Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico reflects the progress we have made.
During the Merida Summit held in March 2007, Presidents Felipe Calderon and George W. Bush agreed on the priority of expanded bilateral and regional cooperation to advance these crucial shared objectives. Officials of our two countries have held intensive discussions over the ensuing months to develop effective strategies for doing so.
Our shared goal is to maximize the effectiveness of our efforts to fight criminal organizations -- so as to disrupt drug-trafficking (including precursor chemicals); weapons trafficking, illicit financial activities and currency smuggling, and human trafficking. The Merida Initiative represents a new and intensified level of bilateral cooperation that marks a new stage in the bilateral cooperation that characterizes the strong relationship between our two countries.
The Merida Initiative will build on specific activities that aim to 1) bolster Mexican domestic enforcement efforts; 2) bolster U.S. domestic enforcement efforts; and 3) expand bilateral and regional cooperation that addresses transnational crime.
Mexico will strengthen its operational capabilities to more effectively fight drug-traffickers and organized crime; the U.S. will intensify its efforts to address all aspects of drug trafficking (including demand-related portions) and continue to combat trafficking of weapons and bulk currency to Mexico. Both nations will augment cooperation, coordination, and the exchange of information to fight criminal organizations on both sides of the border.
To increase the operational capabilities of Mexican agencies and institutions, our strategies include enhanced transfer of equipment and technical resources, consistent with all appropriate standards in both countries of transparency and accountability of use. The strategies also include training programs and two-way exchanges of experts, but do not contemplate the deployment of U.S. military personnel in Mexico.
Our strategies for expanded cooperation are based on full respect for the sovereignty, territorial jurisdiction, and legal frameworks of each country, and are guided by principles of mutual trust, shared responsibility and reciprocity. The initiative will build upon existing domestic strategies and ongoing efforts between law enforcement agencies of both countries.
The strengthening of the bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. will facilitate our regional and international cooperation against organized crime, particularly with the countries of Central America. Both Mexico and the United States recognize the global and regional nature of transnational criminal organizations trafficking in drugs, people, bulk cash and arms across national borders.
In order to move forward on The Merida Initiative, the U.S. Government has requested its Congress approve $500 million for fiscal year 2008 to provide the additional funding necessary to reinforce the significant efforts that Mexico is currently undertaking with its own resources. This would be the first part of a multi-year funding request of $1.4 billion. In addition, the U.S. has requested an initial $50 million in fiscal year 2008 for Central American countries to bolster the efforts regionally. The Merida Initiative will allow our countries to better confront the common threat of drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime.