Will Obama provide Mexico’s besieged president a much-needed lifeline?

January 8, 2015

1/6/2015 The Christian Science Monitor

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoWhen President Enrique Peña Nieto sits down with US President Obama on Tuesday, the scandal-plagued Mexican leader will be under intense pressure to ensure that their discussion – which will touch on security, immigration, trade, and economic issues – produces tangible results.

Both Mexicans and the international community originally expected Mr. Peña Nieto to bring much-needed change to Mexico. But that image has been dramatically undercut by outrage over the poor handling of a case in which 43 students went missing after being handed over to police, as well as several recent political scandals. Now, Mexicans are watching to see if he can work effectively with his powerful northern neighbor in a way that could compensate for his growing political and economic woes.

“It seems like now would be the right moment to double down on those goals that were introduced in the Merida Initiative,” says Christopher Wilson, a senior associate with the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, noting that the initiative, which was originally negotiated between former presidents Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush, has yet to be formally updated by Peña Nieto.

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Plan Mérida: Vital para EE.UU. y México

January 8, 2015

1/7/2015 Voz de América

Interview with Christopher Wilson

obama_nieto_featureLos presidentes de Estados Unidos y México coincidieron en afirmar la necesidad de fortalecer sus relaciones en el marco de temas como seguridad, inmigración y comercio.

En un análisis de la reunión que sostuvieron los mandatarios Barack Obama y Enrique Peña Nieto en la Casa Blanca, el experto asociado del Instituto México del Centro de Pensamiento Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Wilsondijo en entrevista con la Voz de América que ambos países reconocen la importancia de su cooperación y buscan extenderla.

“Uno de los aspectos más importantes para la seguridad se apoya en la Iniciativa Mérida y ese es el punto que requiere del mayor fortalecimiento porque las dos naciones reconocen que es un mecanismo efectivo”, dijo Wilson.

Read more and listen to the interview here…


Supporters of Mérida cite successes from aid package

December 9, 2013

Mexican engineersThe Texas Tribune, 12/9/2013

Criticism of the Mérida Initiative wasn’t on Alejandro Matamoros’ mind recently when he spoke about his passion for teaching how to mix hip-hop tracks and how it helps his at-risk students express how they view Mexico after years of bloodshed.

And controversy surrounding the estimated $1.5 billion aid package from the U.S. to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean wasn’t evident during an after-school program in this city’s Felipes Angeles colonia. The children here squealed in delight during dance lessons, where the featured music was a Chipmunks-like rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”

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Out of sight, not out of mind

October 21, 2013

The Economist, 10/19/2013

Ttijuana-hillside1roubled by the bloody image this gave Mexico, Mr Peña has adopted a new approach since taking over in December. Its most eye-catching element is to pour 118 billion pesos ($9.1 billion) into the 220 most violent neighbourhoods in the country, offering more schooling, jobs, parks and cultural activities to stop them becoming “crime factories”. Footballers have joined in, providing soccer camps to slum kids who might otherwise want to become hired guns.

These are not new ideas. Efforts to mend the torn social fabric in the most crime-ridden cities, like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, started under Mr Calderón. Mr Peña has given them greater impetus, yet even his government recognises that they will not yield a quick pay-off. Meanwhile, it is under pressure to produce a coherent law-enforcement plan in a country where, according even to official statistics, almost nine out of ten crimes go unreported. Policing is a particular concern. “They are still in reactive mode. If there is a plan to go after drug-traffickers, it’s being kept super-secret,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a crime analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

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Cooperation with Mexico: Key to Border Security and Stopping Transnational Crime

August 29, 2013

shutterstock_91867121The Heritage Foundation (The Foundry Blog), 08/28/2013

According to recent reports, the U.S. is in talks with Mexico to strengthen security along Mexico’s southern border. The effort reportedly includes a three-level security system for Mexico’s border with Belize and Guatemala to stop human trafficking, drug running, and other gang-related activity.

Stopping such activities is critical to not just Mexican security but also the U.S.’s. As the only southern neighbor with a land border with the U.S., Mexico serves as conduit for trade but also for the illicit flow of drugs and humans and other criminal objectives. Partnering with Mexico to enhance their security efforts would have several beneficial results.

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Obama to find new foreign policy challenges in Mexico

April 23, 2013

obamaMcClatchy, 4/23/13

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico next week, the new government there looks to reboot a joint effort to combat violent drug traffickers, worries about piecemeal efforts in the United States to legalize marijuana and hopes to rebuild frayed relations with Cuba.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade also said the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party wouldn’t mean a reversal of his country’s willingness to extradite nationals wanted in the United States. “There is no plan to change the way that extraditions have been working,” said Meade, a Yale-educated economist who served as Mexico’s finance secretary before the change of administration in December. He spoke to McClatchy at the Mexican Embassy in Washington in advance of Obama’s trip to Mexico City on May 2.

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Op-ed: Stem the flow of guns to Mexico

January 28, 2013

guns1Los Angeles Times, 1/27/2013

There are plenty of reasons right here at home to support President Obama’s effort to reform the nation’s gun laws. But if Congress requires additional arguments, it should consider that easy access to guns is also undermining the United States’ avowed goal of combating drug trafficking and transnational gangs abroad.

The U.S. has sent nearly $2 billion in aid to Mexico since 2007, much of that as part of the Merida Initiative, a counter-narcotics program designed to provide aid and equipment for that country’s drug war. Yet that assistance has been undermined by lax U.S. gun laws, which allow members of the drug cartels and their associates to buy weapons here and smuggle them across the border. At least 68,000 of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 — and probably quite a lot more — came from the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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