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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 30, 2008

CONTACT: ONDCP PUBLIC AFFAIRS
                 (202) 395-6618

STATEMENT FROM THE DIRECTOR ON THE PASSAGE OF THE MERIDA INITIATIVE

(Washington, DC)—John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today released the following statement after President Bush signed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008:

"We are facing a wave of criminal violence in Mexico and Central America that spills across our southern border into the United States. Today, the President signed into law the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008, which includes funding for the Mérida Initiative, a critical multi-year proposal to provide equipment, training and support for democratic institutions in Mexico and Central America. The bill includes $465 million for to crack down on violent drug trafficking gangs.

The bipartisan supporters of the Merida Initiative in Congress are to be commended for providing vital resources at this critical time. The Mérida Initiative is a remarkable opportunity for the United States and Mexico to work cooperatively against a deadly threat that menaces both our nations. The Government of Mexico is fighting a deadly battle to protect human rights and stop those who seek to rule by violence and terror. Since taking office in 2006, President Felipe Calderón of Mexico has embarked on a bold counter-drug strategy, deploying thousands of troops in an aggressive crackdown on drug trafficking and related violence along the border. More than 25,000 Mexican troops have participated in operations in their states that border Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Out of a total security budget of approximately $7 billion in 2007, the Mexican government dedicated about $2.4 billion to the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. The Mexican people are committed to principles of justice, and we are pleased in being able join them in this common cause."


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