OVER THE past three years, thousands of Mexican citizens have been slaughtered, kidnapped or threatened by drug cartels intent on fighting back against government efforts to rein in their increasingly ferocious trade. The United States agreed to provide Mexico and neighboring countries with $1.4 billion in aid to help combat the cartels, yet tens of millions of dollars could be lost because of a standoff between the State Department and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
Mr. Leahy chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the State Department, which administers the Mexican aid program known as the Merida Initiative. The program calls for the United States to provide training and equipment, including helicopters and surveillance planes, to the Mexican government; the plan does not include direct cash aid. Fifteen percent of the aid must be withheld until the State Department issues a report on Mexico's progress in a number of areas, including "transparency and accountability" of the federal police force and military; investigation and prosecution of government actors who have been "credibly alleged to have committed violations of human rights"; and a ban on the use of testimony elicited through "torture or other ill-treatment."