Alternatives to Mexico Drug War?: U.S. Bishops Support Changes in U.S. Aid Focus

Calling an overemphasis on military responses “counterproductive,” the bishops who chair the domestic and international peace and justice committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Secretary of State John Kerry to examine the funds and priorities of the coordinated efforts of the U.S. and Mexican governments against narcotics trafficking, also known as the Mérida Initiative. That bilateral effort, begun in 2007, joined the governments of the United States and Mexico in a partnership against narcotics trafficking and related criminal activities along the border, including arms trafficking and money laundering. Over $1.5 billion in U.S. foreign assistance has been spent on military and humanitarian programs in support of the initiative.

“While there is a role for security assistance, we also urge that an increased proportion of budgetary expenditures attributable to U.S. international aid be allocated to support the fostering of human rights, a just and humane civil society and broad-based economic development,” wrote Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a January 6 letter to Secretary Kerry. The bishops added that the proposed reallocation of U.S. aid from military to soft power options was also “the conviction of the church in the region.”

Advertisement

Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Pates chair the U.S.C.C.B. Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.

The bishops specifically called for a deeper U.S. role in supporting efforts to strengthen the Mexican judicial system, to expand economic and educational opportunities in Mexico “to create viable alternatives to criminal careers,” agricultural development and to provide more programs that target youth unemployment in Mexico and treatment facilities for those already addicted to drugs.

“We are convinced,” the bishops wrote, “that these programs will result in a more humane and effective investment of our limited national resources. Such activities may be linked to efforts to increase the manufacturing and tourist industries that already exist in these areas, supported by a truly ‘Twenty-First Century’ border.”

The bishops conclude, “A focus on human rights and fair economic development will lead to more successful outcomes than would continued deployment of increasingly expensive and complex weapons systems, military hardware and expert personnel.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

 Pope Francis arrives in procession to celebrate Mass marking the feast of Pentecost in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 20. The pope at his "Regina Coeli" announced that he will create 14 new cardinals June 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Eleven of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and so have the right to vote in the next conclave.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 20, 2018
Images: AP, Wikimedia Commons
Bishop Curry described Teilhard as “one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century.”
Angelo Jesus CantaMay 19, 2018
Both men were close to each other in life, and both are much revered by Pope Francis.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 19, 2018
The Gaza Nakba demonstrations this week have done nothing to advance the situation of Palestinian refugees, nor did they provide relief to the people of Gaza, who dwell in an open-air prison, hemmed in and oppressed at every turn.