In a ceremony in Managua on April 24, Nicaraguan National Police director Aminta Granera and US ambassador Robert Callahan signed an agreement making Nicaragua a member of the Mérida Initiative, a program the US government started in 2007 ostensibly to fight drug cartels and organized crime. Nicaragua is to receive $1.5 million in US aid to improve the sharing of fingerprint information among Central American countries, develop a special investigations unit and equip agents better, according to a statement from the US State Department.
The government of President Daniel Ortega Saavedra of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has frequently criticized US policies, but Nicaragua’s only criticism of the Mérida Initiative—expressed at the ceremony by Deputy Foreign Minister Valdrack Jaentschke—was that the aid was inadequate. (AFP, April 24; La Prensa, Nicaragua, April 25)
Most of the program’s aid goes to Mexico. Many Mexican and US activists have opposed the initiative, calling it “Plan México” in reference to the US-sponsored Plan Colombia program; in that program much of the aid has reportedly ended up supporting the military’s counterinsurgency operations.
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 26