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Mexico's Army is violating human rights, groups say

The US should withhold key counternarcotics funds from Mexico until progress is made, argue several human rights organizations in the US and Mexico.

Soldiers take part in an operation at the police headquarters of the municipality of Escobedo in Monterrey, northern Mexico June 17.

Tomas Bravo/REUTERS/FILE

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Human-rights groups are calling on the United States to hold back millions of dollars in counternarcotics assistance to Mexico's military, concerned about what they say is a rise in abuse cases in conjunction with Mexico's drug war.

President Obama has so far resisted the demand, but the advocates' campaign threatens to revive old tensions between the US and Mexico over American influence south of the border. Moreover, it could become a cause of embarrassment for Mr. Obama, who is scheduled to attend a North American summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, next month.

"The Mexican Army is one of the most nationalist institutions in a hyper-nationalist country, so any attempt by the US to influence its actions by threatening a cut in aid would be seen as a gross intervention in Mexican internal affairs," says George Grayson, an expert on Mexico at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Va. "I'd expect it would put a chill on bilateral relations."

At stake are tens of millions of dollars the US has promised to Mexico by this fall. The money is part of the Merida Initiative, a $1.4 billion counternarcotics pact negotiated with Mexico in 2008.

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