Mexico Drug Aid Delayed Over Rights Concerns

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2009 6:39 AM CDT
Miguel Beraza, an alleged member of the Mexican drug cartel known as "La Familia," is escorted by police officers during his presentation to the media in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/ Eduardo Verdugo)
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(Newser) – More than $100 million in anti-narcotics aid to Mexico has been delayed because of alleged human rights abuses in the country's war with drug cartels, the Washington Post reports. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of a subcommittee that oversees foreign aid spending, blocked plans to release a favorable State Department report on human rights in Mexico, saying the findings don't jibe with persistent reports of torture and forced disappearances.

The release of the aid is linked to human rights under a 2003 agreement. State Department officials plan to push Mexico for further transparency on alleged abuses by the  military and revise their report, but many doubt they will be able to make a strong enough case. Mexico's failure to fulfill the initiative's human rights requirements make it "a bad idea to release the funds," one Mexican human rights worker said. "It would be a green light for further human rights abuses and for continued impunity for the military."