‘Merida Initiative’ Would Provide Counter-Drug Aid to Mexico, but Congress Remains Skeptical

‘Merida Initiative’ Would Provide Counter-Drug Aid to Mexico, but Congress Remains Skeptical

WASHINGTON - It remains unclear whether Congress will support the Bush administration's request for an initial $550 million to help Mexico and other Latin American countries beef up their law enforcement and militaries in the fight against drug cartels and other organized crime.

The proposed aid package, known as the "Merida Initiative," has been hailed by the White House and Mexican President Felipe Calderón as "a new paradigm" of strengthened law enforcement and counternarcotics relations between the United States and Mexico.

However, the initiative has no shortage of skeptics here and in Mexico, where, according to one Democratic staffer with knowledge of the issue, a "lot of heartache" is being caused by the manner in which the Bush administration seeks to deliver the money.

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