May 1, 2013
When former Mexican President Felipe Calderón waged his war on drug cartels, the media were guaranteed a crime photo op every few weeks. Alleged gangsters were thrust before the press along with heaps of guns, money and narcotics. These narco-perp walks were often accompanied by videos in which heavy-breathing suspects confessed how they had committed hundreds of murders and smuggled tons of cocaine to American users. And the parades often coincided with top U.S. officials visiting Mexico and trumpeting how the two nations stood shoulder to shoulder in their joint fight against cartel crime.
However, it is unlikely that U.S. President Barack Obama will be shown any such displays when he visits Mexico this Thursday. Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power in December, the parades have stopped as part of an overhaul in the government’s security strategy. (Human-rights defenders also decried these staged pantomimes of justice.) Peña Nieto has shifted focus from fighting cartels to modernizing the economy and has encouraged media outlets to dedicate less coverage to decapitations and shoot-outs. In the run-up to Obama’s visit, both governments have emphasized trade and immigration reform over the battle with the cocaine kings. “The Peña Nieto administration has made it clear it wants to reduce the emphasis on violence and wants to talk about other things such as its reform agenda,” says security analyst Alejandro Hope, a former official of Mexico’s intelligence agency, CISEN. “It wants to change the conversation.”
May 1, 2013
The New York Times, 4/30/13
In their joint fight against drug traffickers, the United States and Mexico have forged an unusually close relationship in recent years, with the Americans regularly conducting polygraph tests on elite Mexican security officials to root out anyone who had been corrupted. But shortly after Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office in December, American agents got a clear message that the dynamics, with Washington holding the clear upper hand, were about to change.
There have long been political sensitivities in Mexico over allowing too much American involvement. But the recent policy changes have rattled American officials used to far fewer restrictions than they have faced in years. Asked about security cooperation with Mexico at a news conference on Tuesday, President Obama said: “We’ve made great strides in the coordination and cooperation between our two governments over the last several years. But my suspicion is, is that things can be improved.”
April 26, 2013
Global Post, 4/25/13
With President Barack Obama set to visit Mexico next week, a group of 23 U.S. lawmakers asked the administration to prioritize the defense of human rights in relations with the Aztec nation. The legislators expressed their concern over “the persistence of grave human rights violations in Mexico” in a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Headed by Reps. James Moran (D-Va.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas), the lawmakers are urging Obama to make the defense of human rights “a central part” of Washington’s agenda with Mexico. During the 2006-2012 government of Felipe Calderon, who militarized the war on drugs, complaints to Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission about abuses by police and soldiers increased fivefold to 2,723, the congressmen emphasized.
March 8, 2013
By Vanda Felbab-Brown, International Drug Policy Consortium, February 2013
In “Focused Deterrence, Selective Targeting, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime: Concepts and Practicalities,” published by the International Drug Policy Consortium in February 2013, Vanda Felbab-Brown first outlines the logic and problems of zero-tolerance and undifferentiated targeting in law enforcement policies. Second, she lays out the key theoretical concepts of the law-enforcement strategies of focused-deterrence and selective targeting and reviews some of their applications, as in Operation Ceasefire in Boston in the 1990s and urban-policing operations in Rio de Janeiro during the 2000s decade. Third, she analyses the implementation challenges that selective targeting and focused-deterrence strategies have encountered, particularly outside of the United States. And finally, she discusses some key dilemmas in designing selective targeting and focused-deterrence strategies to fight crime.
Read the full report here…
March 5, 2013
Sergio Alcocer, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister responsible for the United States and Canada, said the focus on tackling the cartels and border security meant many of the benefits of Mexico’s ties with the United States had been ignored. “The U.S. population needs to see Mexico is an important part of daily life,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
“We’re not just a geographical accident, we’re not a source of problems, on the contrary. We’re an area of opportunity and a source of how problems can be resolved.” Too often, cross-border debates on security and immigration had obscured the valuable contribution made by Mexican migrants to the United States, while Mexico had not made the most of its northern neighbor in modernizing its economy, Alcocer said.
February 4, 2013
El Universal, 2/4/2013
Mexico faces a outbreak of young offenders who participate in organized crime. The most dramatic case is that of the state of Nuevo Leon, but states like Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, Morelos, Tlaxcala and Sonora also recorded an increase in the number of young children mixed up in crime.
In addition to young men, more women are committing high impact crimes such as drug trafficking and homicides linked to organized crime.
January 28, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 1/25/2013
Exponential growth in the trafficking of drugs through Mexico – destined for the large consumer market to the north – is leaving a growing number of addicts in its wake.
Heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines were once unheard of in Mexico, but today rehabilitation centers are filled with addicts. Being the top supplier of illegal drugs to the US has made Mexico a consumer nation, too, as cartels have sought to expand the local market over the past decade.
November 26, 2012
Op-ed, Shannon O’Neil, USA Today, 11/25/2012
The neighbor Americans believe they have to the south, and the Mexico that has developed over the last 20 years, are two different places. As Mexico’s incoming president Enrique Peña Nieto meets with President Obama this week, the biggest challenge facing relations today may be our skewed perceptions.
In Americans’ psyches, drugs dominate. When advertising firm GSD&M and Vianovo strategic consultants asked Americans to come up with three words that describe Mexico, nearly every other person answered “drugs,” followed by “poor” and “unsafe.” Other questions reveal Americans see Mexico as corrupt, unstable and violent, more problem than partner. Americans had more favorable views of Greece, El Salvador and Russia.
October 5, 2012
ABC News/Univision, 10/4/2012
On the sidelines of the first U.S.-Mexico border trade conference held last week in Arizona, a group stared at a map of the United States. The 50 states were colored various shades of blue. The darker the state was, the more it exported to Mexico. As expected, California, Arizona and Texas were dark blue but so were Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin. The map showed what many on the border have known for awhile: Mexico is vital to the U.S. economy.
A buzz is developing around the strength of Mexico’s growing middle class and what it could mean for U.S. business people and politicians in the border region. But there is also frustration that when it comes to Mexico, the United States — particularly lawmakers in Washington, D.C. — continue to focus almost exclusively on security, drugs and illegal immigration.
While these issues are real, so is Mexico’s economic success story. Here are five ways it impacts the United States that you probably didn’t know about.
Read more …