Police forces in Jalisco have received a virtual driving simulator from the U.S. government as part of the Merida Initiative.
The device can replicate a range of precarious conditions, including rainfall, storms and high-speed driving in the daytime or at night.
“Donations like these improve the ability to face crimes and maintain communities safe,” said U.S. Consul General Robin Matthewman, who delivered the simulator at the academy of the Jalisco Security Ministry on September 19. “We will continue to support Mexico in this effort through the Merida Initiative and other programs to achieve its security potential,” she added.
The Merida Initiative began in December 2008 as a bilateral agreement to reduce transnational drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Part of the Merida Initiative has involved providing equipment and training to Mexican security forces, delivering more than US$1.6 billion in resources.
Current President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador is not a fan of the measure, previously stating that he would rather the Trump administration invested in developmental aid in Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle. Back in May AMLO said that the Merida program had failed to address the root causes of drug violence, such as poverty. Some critics also believe the initiative threatens national sovereignty, as it allows the United States too much influence over Mexican security policy.
Security analyst Alejandro Hope said that it has been a landmark treaty despite its dysfunctionalities. “The program needs to be redesigned, its objectives, rethought,” he said. “But to discard 12 years of institutional lessons doesn’t seem to be the best way of dealing with our neighbor to the north.” Hope said the US$3-billion undertaking has ultimately enhanced bilateral collaboration and intelligence sharing from both sides, noting that it has been “a way for the United States to accept its share of responsibility for the problem of organized crime in Mexico.”