Members will examine the impact of security assistance in the region and the Mérida Initiative

Washington, DC - As the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) led eight Members of Congress on a delegation trip to Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, and Mexico to examine the impact of U.S. security assistance in the region. Granger departed Washington today and will return to Texas on Friday, March 25. 

 The delegation will begin in Bogota, Colombia and conclude in Mexico City, Mexico and plans to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

“At a time of escalating violence and sophisticated enemies, we need to know what is working and how we can help bring an end to the carnage that has killed thousands and brought drugs and violence into the United States,” said Granger. “As a Member of Congress who worked closely with the Colombians in the 1990s, I have seen the positive long-term impact U.S. assistance can have.  The Colombians have proven that the drug cartels can be defeated and they are now working with their neighbors to cut off key drug routes and end the violence.  While Mexico faces a different situation, our collaboration with our ally remains a top priority and we share a mutual interest in ensuring a peaceful outcome.”

Granger continues to be concerned with ongoing delays in the delivery of equipment in order to fulfill the U.S. commitment as part of the Mérida Initiative. In June 2010, Granger’s subcommittee held a hearing to examine ongoing delays in providing critical support for the Mexican government and hosted subsequent meetings with the State Department and the Department of Defense to help expedite the process at the Congresswoman’s request. 

Under the Mérida Initiative, the United States provided assistance, largely in the form of equipment and training. Funding for the Mérida Initiative has focused on:

•    Providing Bell helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support interdiction and the rapid response of Mexican law enforcement agencies;

•    Providing inspection equipment, ion scanners, and canine units for Mexican customs and the Mexican federal police, as well as the military to interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash, and persons;

•    Providing technologies and secure communications to improve data collection and storage; and technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice in order to improve vetting for the Mexican police force, to provide case management software to track investigations through the legal process, to support offices of citizen complaint and professional responsibility, and to promote the establishment of witness protection programs.

Firms in the 12thCongressional District, including DynCorp and Bell-Textron, provide important services and equipment to support counter narcotics operations in the regions where the delegation will be travelling.