The pleasure of reading Jorge Chabat's columns every two weeks is reason enough to learn Spanish. I can't think of a more consistently readable and sensible commentator in the entire country. He is typically reasonable this week, discussing how the Mérida Initiative ran aground.
The United States Senate, wary of transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to security forces that have been linked to human rights abuses, tacked a few conditions onto its approval of the Mérida Initiative: soldiers suspected of human rights abuses must be tried in civilian courts; Mexico must reinforce the independence of the National Human Rights Commission; and a database of Mexican solider and policemen must be created. Mexicans across the political spectrum rejected the conditions, and said that if strings are to be attached, then the money should stay in Washington.
As Chabat sees it, both countries' leaders are stuck in the past. Despite the fact that the Senate's conditions are basically reasonable (except, in my opinion, the one about soldiers being tried in civilian courts; that does seem over the line), Mexicans bristle at instructions from a neighbor that effectively robbed it of half its territory. But that was more than 150 years ago, and human rights concerns should be a goal both nations share in the 21st century. On the other hand, the Mexicans have made great strides in attacking corruption over the past two decades, but the Americans still act like it's 1985, and show little faith in the Mexicans' capacity to monitor the security forces themselves.