US to Grant Some Merida Initiative Funds Ahead of Schedule

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Under the framework of the Merida Initiative, the US will give $333 million in aid and equipment to Mexico before the end of 2010, said US Assistant Secretary of State David Johnson.

In a press conference in Mexico City Monday, Johnson said that concern about growing violence in Mexico had nothing to do with the decision to release the funds early. As reported by La Jornada, Johnson also said that the US government would be willing to offer technical support if Mexico chose to reform the police force, combining the federal and local agencies into a single body. 

Under the Merida Initiative, about $1.5 billion has gone to Mexico so far in the fight against drug trafficking organizations. The US already delivered two Bell 412 surveillance helicopters to Mexico earlier this month, under the terms of the Initiative. 

The US government is also currently withholding $26 million in aid money from Mexico, citing human rights concerns. 

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