Below is an excellent explanation of what the heck is going on with Plan Mexico in Congress. It cuts through all the corporate media misinformation, and as an added bonus it provides a preview of what a Mexico under Plan Mexico would look like a few years down the road by examining Plan Mexico's inspiration in action, Plan Colombia.
from the Center for International Policy's Colombia Program
This morning’s El Tiempo has the first solid official statistics for Colombian land area under coca cultivation in 2007. The news is not good. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, whose 2006 figure of 78,000 hectares (193,000 acres) was half the U.S. government’s estimate, detected 98,000 hectares (242,000 acres) in 2007 - 20,000 hectares or 26% more coca. While some of this increase likely owes to methodological adjustments, the figures make clear that narcotrafficking is one area where Colombia has made no progress since the “dark days” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The UNODC data are not public yet, but will eventually appear here. No final word yet on when the U.S. government will release its (normally higher) coca-cultivation estimates for 2007.
* On Tuesday, the House of Representatives debated (go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin
/query/z?r110:H10JN8-0043:) and approved (go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin /query/z?r110:H10JN8-0049:) a bill (go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin /bdquery/z?d110:h.r.06028:) authorizing expenditures for the “Mérida Initiative” aid package to Mexico and Central America. It is important to note that this is not the bill that will send any money to Mexico and Central America. That is a separate bill: the 2008 supplemental appropriations bill (go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin /bdquery/z?d110:h.r.02642:), which would provide piles of money for Iraq and Afghanistan, includes the Mérida aid in a few pages. The bill that passed the House this week, by contrast, only authorizes this use of funds for Mexico and Central America, laying out a statement of policy and adding provisions to permanent law.
In Congress, it is considered good practice to “authorize” appropriations like this before laying out money for them. But it doesn’t happen all the time; where foreign aid is concerned, in fact, “unauthorized” appropriations have been the norm since the mid-1980s. Though the House made the effort to pass authorizing legislation, the Mérida Initiative aid will be no exception: the Senate has no similar authorizing bill, so the bill that the House passed on Tuesday is unlikely ever to become law.
The supplemental appropriations bill that will actually “write the checks,” on the other hand, is on a separate track: the House and Senate both passed it in May, and now they are working out the differences in the two bills. This bill would give Mexico less money, and include stronger human rights conditions on military aid, than what this week’s House authorization bill recommends. The Mexican government has loudly complained about these human-rights conditions, especially the more specifically worded ones in the Senate’s version of the appropriations bill.
The New York Times reported - very briefly - on Wednesday that the House and Senate had worked out their differences and rewritten the conditions in a way that leaves them “intact, although softened.” The new text has not been made publicly available, but would appear here (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin
/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.02642:) when it does.
* Meanwhile, back in Colombia: another unpleasant chapter has been opened in the two-year-old scandal surrounding Jorge Noguera. For more than three years, Noguera headed President Uribe’s powerful presidential intelligence service (DAS). Today, he stands accused of using his position to help paramilitary leaders, including passing them lists of labor leaders and activists to be killed. For the second time, Noguera’s lawyers have managed to get him out of prison on a slim technicality (something involving the fact that a delegate of the prosecutor-general, and not the Prosecutor General himself, filed the charges - look it up yourself and try to understand it).