S. Hrg. 110-311: Antidrug Package for Mexico and Central America: An Evaluation, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, One Hundred Tenth Congress, First Session, November 15, 2007   [open pdf - 227KB]

From the opening statement of Senator Robert Menendez: "The hearing of the Committee on Foreign Relations will now come to order. It's my pleasure to welcome our witnesses today, Assistant Secretary Shannon and Assistant Secretary Johnson. We appreciate you coming before the committee. We've called this hearing to review the President's proposed Plan Mexico. I call it Plan Mexico because it sounds, in many respects as I've seen it, like Plan Colombia. It's a plan that raises serious questions about our Nation's priorities within the hemisphere. To begin with, this request has been categorized as an emergency. When some of us have known for years the problems and needs of our southern neighbors, while we have been ringing the alarm bells, it seems to me that the administration has repeatedly hit the snooze button. Now they're finally awake, but running late, so they've come to Congress without any consultation declaring an emergency. With Plan Mexico, the President is requesting emergency supplemental funding to help combat the drug and gang problem in Mexico and Central America to the tune of $500 million for Mexico and $50 million for Central America. That is a first tranche. I certainly take a backseat to no one in my ongoing efforts over the last 15 years in the House and now on this committee to increase resources for a variety of issues, as it relates to Latin America, especially on the development side and, on the protection of human rights. But this proposal is long on military support and falls far short when it comes to support for the people in the region. Again, I find it particularly disturbing that the plan was negotiated and developed without any consultation with Congress whatsoever. That being said, the area where we seem to have some agreement is in recognizing that the current drug-related killings, insecurity, and fear continue to pose major problems for Mexico and for the United States. The current level and senseless manner of violence in Mexico is both alarming and disturbing, especially considering the common border we share. Unfortunately, corruption continues to plague institutions at all levels, and on top of that, Mexico now faces an increasing consumption and production problem. For the South, Central America continues to grapple with gangs and gang violence, as well as increasing rates of drug trafficking. There is no question help is needed. The question however is how we go about it in the most effective way to reach our goals. And that is the question I hope will guide the hearing today and how we will debate and amend this package in the future. On that note, while this proposal has certainly brought the problem to the forefront, I'm not convinced it is the most effective solution to reach our goals. There are some serious shortcomings, which I will address today."

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S. Hrg. 110-311; Senate Hearing 110-311
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