21st Century Border: The Militarization of the Border and the Militarization of Mexico
Written by Eduardo García   
Over the last nine years, around 185,000 people have been murdered in Mexico and more than 23,000 have been reported as disappeared.

It´s also been nine years since the Mexican government, under Felipe Calderon, decided to embroil the country in a war against drug cartels with the support of the United States. Cooperation between the two countries was made official through the Merida Initiative, decreed in 2008. Designed to resemble Plan Colombia, Merida has 4 pillars: interrupting the operations of organized crime; strengthening the rule of law through judicial and police reform; the strengthening of communities; and the creation of a “21st Century Border.”

Although the government’s language is particularly vague on this, it seems like a “21st Century Border” simply means more militarization.

The border that divides Mexico from Central America has become the new southern border of the United States. With the expansion of the border zone, militarization as a border strategy has expanded as well. Plan Frontera Sur, put into place by the Mexican government in 2014, has constructed a new vertical border that runs from south to north through the country. This vertical border is designed as a series of ¨filters,” through immigration checkpoints and militarized training for Mexican police and border agents, that helps to reduce the number of migrants, who will make it to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The results of Plan Merida for all of us who live south of the Rio Grande have not been what was promised.

The collusion between organized crime and the Mexican government has become more evident than ever. The disappearance of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa is just the most infamous case among thousands of similar instances of repression. Mexico´s rate of impunity is the second highest in the world, where 98% of cases involving human rights violations go unresolved. The most recent Mexican Children and Youth Survey showed that at least 26 thousand minors between the ages of 10 and 13 have been forced to work with organized crime.

The strategy of militarizing Mexico is part of a border security plan pushed by the United States in the name of homeland security. Between 2008 and 2014 more than 22 thousand State and Federal Mexican police were trained by the United States, to then be sent to the streets and take charge of the war against the drug cartels. We don’t know how many more militarized Mexican immigration agents have been trained by the United States through Plan Merida. Along with the Mexican people, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans who have fled (often US-backed) violence in their home countries are suffering the consequences of this ¨Twenty-First Century Border.¨

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