March 10th, 2009 17:19 EST
U.S. Military Funding to Mexico!
Human rights organizers in New York City are disappointed by the U.S. House of Representatives February 25, 2009 vote to approve $300 million in military aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico.
"Plan Mexico is a disaster for human rights in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean," says Robert Jereski, a member of Friends of Brad Will. "It means further aid to armies and police forces that have been widely implicated in grave human rights violations. But it further energizes our networks for our upcoming Day of Action on March 11 in Washington, D.C."
Friends of Brad Will is an organization formed in 2006 following the murder of NYC-based video-journalist Brad Will in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico while he was documenting a teachers` strike and popular movement for democratic change there. Will was one of 27 people killed by Mexican government paramilitaries during state-wide protests against corruption, impunity, and immense poverty. While those who shot Will have been clearly identified as police and local government officials, the Mexican Attorney General recently arrested and charged anti-government protester Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno for the murder of Will. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights, as well as the Mexican government`s own National Human Rights Commission, have vigorously disputed the Attorney General`s claims.
Friends of Brad Will is participating in an International Day of Action on March 11. The Day of Action is demanding freedom for Juan Manual Martinez Moreno as well as demanding an end to Plan Mexico. Activists from around the country are organizing caravans to Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials about Martinez`s case, to seek justice for Will, and to urge them to oppose Plan Mexico.
"We are heartened that dozens of lawmakers now oppose Plan Mexico as a result of the Mexican government`s corruption and impunity," says Friends of Brad Will member Salvador Pantoja. "We have already seen this aid being directed not against drug traffickers but instead against democratic and non-violent social movements in Mexico. If more aid is sent by U.S. taxpayers, the criminalizing of dissenters and other pro-democracy forces will only increase, while no actions are being taken to address the roots causes of corruption and drug trafficking."