NarcoNews: US Military’s Training of Mexican Security Forces Continues as Human-Rights Abuses Mount in Mexico

DoD Officials Claim Training is Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

By Bill Conroy

The U.S. government has spent more than $62 million since fiscal year 2010 providing highly specialized training to Mexican security forces, including some $16.3 million in fiscal 2013, as part of an effort to help Mexico better prosecute its war on drugs, records made public under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act show.

The spending has continued even as Mexico’s military and police forces continue to face accusations of pervasive human-rights abuses committed against Mexican citizens, leading some experts to question whether the U.S.-funded training is resulting in some deadly unintended consequences.

The news of the disappearance in late September of 43 students who attended a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa, located in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, has sparked massive protests in Mexico. The students were allegedly turned over to a criminal gang after being abducted by Mexican police and they remain missing. The police fired on the three buses transporting the students along a stretch of road near Iguala, about 130 kilometers north of Ayotiznapa, and the abduction was carried out near a Mexican military base, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Ayotzinapa incident was preceded by a lesser-known attack this past June during which Mexican soldiers killed 22 people inside a warehouse in Tlatlaya, 238 kilometers southwest of Mexico City. At least 12 of those homicides were deemed extrajudicial executions, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission[CNDH in its Spanish initials].

Last year, the Mexican government conceded that at least 26,000 people had gone missing, or been disappeared, in Mexico since 2006 — the year the war on the “cartels” in that nation was launched. Over that same period, INEGI (the Mexican State Statistics Agency) reports, there were some 155,000 homicides in Mexico, most with a nexus to the drug war.

The U.S. Department of Defense insists that the relationship it has with Mexican security forces is based on “trust and confidence and mutual respect” and is critical to helping to reduce the violence sparked by criminal organizations in Mexico.

The U.S. training, funded through the DoD and to a lesser extent the U.S. Department of State, encompasses a wide range of military strategy and tactics and is carried out at locations in the United States and inside Mexico. Among the course topics on the menu are asymmetrical conflict, counter intelligence, international counterterrorism, psychological operations, counter-drug operations and urban operations. The training is being provided to a broad spectrum of Mexican security forces, including the Army, Navy and the federal police, according to data provided to Congress under the requirements of the Foreign Assistance Act and is current through fiscal year 2013.

Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy with the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization promoting human rights and democracy in Latin America, says there is a lack of reliable public data on the fate of Mexican security forces after they receive U.S. military training.

“What happens to these trainees a year or two down the road after they are placed in areas dominated by organized crime?” Isacson asks. “We simply don’t have good after-training tacking of these people, and the amount they are paid can’t compete with the drug money. Plus, the risk of getting caught is small. The biggest risk for them isn’t jail, but rather running afoul of the drug organizations.”

From fiscal 2010 through 2013, U.S. military training was provided to some 8,300 members of Mexico’s security forces, according to Foreign Assistance Act data. That training is overseen by U.S Northern Command (Northcom), a Department of Defense branch created in 2002 that is responsible for U.S. homeland defense as well as security cooperation efforts with the Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.

Northcom officials contend that all Mexican security forces receiving U.S. training are well vetted and that data is maintained on all participants. The training is designed to compliment Mexico’s existing efforts to maintain security and stability in the country.

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

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Comments

  1. The article implies that Mexican security forces are being trained by the US and then after a while, they join the cartels, where they use their new skills to commit crimes. Is there any indication of the rate at which this corruption is happening? The only numbers I see is: “From fiscal 2010 through 2013, U.S. military training was provided to some 8,300 members of Mexico’s security forces”. It would be interesting to see how big of a problem this is, how much cartels rely on US training indirectly.

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