After promising $1.4 billion to help fight drug trafficking in Mexico, the U.S. has spent almost none of the money, provoking criticism on both sides of the border that the U.S. is failing to respond quickly to the deepening crisis, the Washington Post reports. In June, Congress appropriated $400 million in the “Merida Initiative.” Only two small projects have been completed: high-speed computer servers and a conference.
The most critical items, a $50 million surveillance plane and five rapid-response helicopters, may take two years to deliver. Antonio Garza, U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 2002 to 2009, fears that the spirit of cooperation forged under Merida is slipping away. The initiative is 10 times as large as any previous U.S. anti-drug assistance package to Mexico. “You could send down a dozen Black Hawk helicopters, complete with training teams, in a matter of a few months,” said Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general and director of national drug policy in the Clinton administration. “What are we doing? They’re in trouble. They’re serious. This is a national priority, and we ought to take it seriously.”