WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
8 May 1995 | | News

The Evolving Role of Mexico in Public Security and Antinarcotrafics Programs

In 1996, concern about production and transhipment of illegal drugs in and through Mexico have captured the public's attention. At the same time, debates within Congress and the Administration about Mexico's efforts to combat the flow of illegal drugs to the United States have failed to take into account new developments in Mexico's public security and antinarcotics policies with potentially serious human rights implications.New laws that expand the role of the Mexican military in public security matters, and proposed laws to weaken due process protections may undermine civilian institutions and contribute to already serious human rights problems in Mexico. Together these laws would give the Mexican military a role in internal security matters (including anti-crime and antinarcotics policies) for the first time without creating appropriate accountability mechanisms to civilian authorities. U.S. pressure on Mexico to be aggressive in its antinarcotics efforts may be indirectly contributing to a policy with serious human rights ramifications. By emphasizing the military's role in antinarcotics efforts, and providing training and sophisticated equipment to Mexico's military for counter-narcotics programs, the United States may be strengthening the role of the Mexican military at a time when they are becoming increasingly involved in civilian functions. The United States should carefully weigh the evolving role of Mexico's military and its implications for human rights and democracy before agreeing to further antinarcotics aid to Mexico.

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