WHO'S GUARDING THE BORDER?
February 15, 2006
The U.S. government has sent more than $376 million to Mexico in the past decade for that country's military and police to help stop alien and drug smugglers, guard against terrorists and protect America's southern border, including $50 million due this year, say observers.
The money, quietly authorized through State and Defense department programs, has been used to train and equip the Mexican military and police, drawing disagreement on whether those institutions are part of the solution for U.S. border security, or are part of the problem.
Mexico has denied that any of its military personnel have been involved in recent border incursions, blaming drug smugglers. The incidents are under investigation by both governments.
- The money funds helicopters, four-wheel-drive vehicles, trucks, all-terrain cycles, communications and detection equipment, binoculars, computers and other equipment.
- It also has been used to train Mexican military and police in intelligence gathering and counterterrorism.
- The 2006 budget request calls for the delivery of a telephone intercept system, which would give Mexico the ability to eavesdrop on suspected narcoterrorists and smugglers.
Most of the 2006 funding request, about $28.1 million, comes from the State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs for technical assistance, equipment and arms transfers, as well as programs to encourage the cultivation of legal crops and assistance for drug demand-reduction programs.
An additional $18.4 million is from the Defense Department's International Military Education and Training program, which provides counternarcotics assistance and training to foreign military personnel and police. The budget also includes $2.5 million for grants and loans to help purchase U.S.-produced weapons, defense equipment and military training; $1.1 million for additional training for the military and a limited number of civilians; and $450,000 to train military officers as part of the Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program.
Source: Jerry Seper, "U.S. gives Mexico millions for security," Washington Times, February 13, 2006.
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