Mexican president wants to shift U.S. funds from security to development

Mexican president wants to shift U.S. funds from security to development
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday he wants to reorient American military and security aid toward funding development programs that combat poverty.
 
Speaking at his daily press conference, López Obrador criticized the Merida Initiative, saying the security cooperation agreement "hasn't worked. We don't want cooperation for the use of force, we want cooperation for development."
 
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Under the decade-old Merida Initiative, $2.3 billion has been appropriated and $1.6 billion delivered to Mexico from the United States to prop up security forces, training, courts and investigative authorities to fight drug crime.
 
The program has been widely criticized in Mexico for its role in drug-related violence that's killed tens of thousands of people over the past decade and a half.
 
"The proposal we're making is for the development plan for the southeast and Central American countries — we want the investment dedicated to productive activities and creating jobs," López Obrador said.
 
"We don't want armed helicopters, we don't want resources for other types of military support, what we want is production and work," he added.
 
López Obrador, who took office in December, campaigned on ending the drug war and replacing it with economic development to combat crime.
 
A leftist firebrand, he has so far avoided direct confrontation with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE amid criticism from Washington over Mexico's inability or disinterest in regards to stopping Central American migration.
 
But López Obrador's willingness to openly criticize U.S. aid shows growing tension between two governments with distinct approaches to regional security.
 
"There are two different approaches about migration issues, quite different I should say," said Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Wednesday in Washington.
 
"If you have different approaches you have tensions," he added.