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Leahy Seeks to Block Merida Initiative Funding Due to Human Rights Concerns

According to an August 5, 2009 article in the New York Times U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently "discouraged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton from releasing a favorable report on Mexico's human rights record, which would free up $100 million in American anti-drug assistance" ("Leahy Balks at Mexico Report"). As the article explains, "Fifteen percent of the aid to Mexico in the so-called Merida Initiative cannot be spent unless Mexico is found to have met certain human rights conditions," which Leahy claims "have not been met." The Senator thus joins human rights advocates in seeking to block the funding, citing "serious abuses" by the Mexican Army in Mexican President Felipe Calderon's drug war. Although "State department officials had been eager to secure the additional funds for Mexico's drug war in advance of President Obama's trip [...] to Guadalajara for a summit meeting of North American leaders," the funding still lay in question as of his arrival during the weekend of August 8.

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