01/25/13 – John Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts and President Barak Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, voiced his support for continued and strengthened bilateral collaboration with Mexico. If elected, Kerry said he would increase U.S. efforts to support its neighbor’s fight against drugs.
Speaking in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his fellow members of Congress during his confirmation hearing on January 24, Kerry made it clear the United States would continue its efforts laid out by the Merida Initiative, a $1.6 billion (USD) initiative approved in 2008 that provides resources to Mexico for security and military expenses, judicial reform, and training, among other areas. According to Terra, he also supported Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan to shift away from such a strong reliance on the military, and move more towards strengthening the implementation and functioning of the new judicial system throughout the country. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the past three years, Kerry had already shown his support for this transition last summer by calling for additional financial resources–$250 million a year for four years–to help fund the country’s judicial reform processes and security efforts. (Read the Committee on Foreign Relations July 2012 report on this here). Continuing the conversation and referring to the Merida Initiative, Kerry said at his hearing, “We have to convince our colleagues of the importance of these types of initiatives that have strong roots, and that we have the ability to help until more substantial results are achieved.”
Senator Kerry, who will replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her position if confirmed, also took the opportunity at his hearing to point out the U.S.’s duty to address its role in Mexico’s drug violence. Kerry stated that, “We [in the United States] have failed in our part regarding treatment and education,” and added that the United States–the nation with the highest drug consumption rates–must face its own internal demand.