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House gives Merida Initiative the green light

June 10, 2008 | 11:36 am

House lawmakers voted 311-106 on Tuesday to authorize the Merida Initiative, a $1.6 billion plan to help fight drug cartels in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

“Either we can go after these cartels in Ensenada, or we can fight them in Escondido,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad), who voted for the plan. “I’d prefer that we move now and take care of this problem south of the border. The drug wars in Mexico and in other regions have grown horrendously violent, and their destructive ways must be quashed.”

Bilbray was one of several U.S. lawmakers who went to Monterrey, Mexico, over the weekend to discuss the initiative with Mexican officials. Mexico has objected to human rights conditions that Congress attached to the aid. The State Department has identified Mexico as a major supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine to the U.S. Escalating violence between rival Mexican drug cartels has fueled increasing violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

-- Nicole Gaouette in Washington