By Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times
The Obama administration wants to restore financial aid to Mexico that it cut last year to protest the country’s human rights record, even though abuses have continued, officials said.
Last year, the State Department cut about $5 million in aid to Mexico, part of a broader package allocated under the so-called Merida Initiative that was generally aimed at fighting a drug war.
The money was withheld because U.S. officials said Mexico had not lived up to its commitments to investigate egregious atrocities, including the kidnapping and apparent killing of 43 college students by local authorities in September 2014.
The Obama administration’s action sent a strong political message of rebuke to Mexico, a close ally of Washington.
But the State Department has notified Congress that it plans to restore the aid, even though, by most accounts, the abuses are as bad or worse.
The disappearance and suspected killing of the students, for example, remains unsolved and international investigators have accused the Mexican government of deliberately obstructing justice in the case.
“If you ask yourself, what has changed since last year, not very much,” said Maureen Meyer, senior associate for Mexico at the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental research and advocacy group. Some cases, she added, suggest abuses are “even more concerning.”