US lawmakers will review the language of an anti-drug plan that Mexican officials contend infringes on their nation’s sovereignty by conditioning aid to performance on human rights, a senior US senator said on Sunday.
Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said that a visiting delegation of US lawmakers would take concerns expressed to them by Mexican legislators this weekend back to the US Congress, which has been considering the aid plan, known as the Merida Initiative.
The plan, proposed in October by US President George W. Bush, would give Mexico and other Latin American countries US$1.4 billion over several years to fight drug trafficking.
But Mexican lawmakers object to several conditions, including performance evaluations, reviews of how the money was spent and guarantees that civilian investigators would be allowed to look into allegations of abuse by Mexico’s military.
“We heard from everyone here the common message that this language has got to be changed,” said Dodd, one of 11 US legislators attending a two-day meeting with their Mexican counterparts in Monterrey. “Our friends in Mexico needed to vent and explain how this issue was not handled well. Anything that smacks of certification is a nonstarter.”
Ruth Zavaleta, speaker of Mexico’s lower house of Congress, said the chamber would refuse any conditions on US aid and welcomed Dodd’s promise to review the plan.
“There is a commitment to take our concerns and discuss them in the US Congress, and we hope that they can correct [the plan] with the demands we are making,” Zavaleta said.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the US Senate subcommittee that oversees State Department and international program funding, has defended conditioning the aid. He sent a letter to Sunday’s meeting underlining US commitment to the plan.
“We recognize the responsibility of the United States as the primary market for illegal drugs and the source of most of the guns used by the Mexican cartels,” Leahy said in the letter.
“I am confident that in the final version of the Supplemental the Congress will provide support for the Merida Initiative in a manner that addresses our shared interests and concerns,” Leahy said.
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500