NEW PUBLICATION | The Evolving Merida Initiative and the Policy of Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations

us-mx-security-cooperation-coverBy Eric Olson

The election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States opens a new era in U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. With the new Trump administration, the security relationship is likely to undergo further review and modification. Whether the framework of “shared responsibility” that has guided security cooperation between both nations will be deepened and strengthened, as it has been over the past decade, or is completely overhauled is still unclear.  This paper seeks to place the security relationship in its most recent historical context and reviews how the bilateral security cooperation framework has evolved and deepened beyond the original “Mérida Initiative” set out by Presidents George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

The Evolving Merida Initiative and the Policy of Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations,” was written by Eric L. Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program and Senior Advisor on Security to the Mexico Institute. In the policy brief, the author provides a series of policy options for building on and improving the U.S.-Mexico security relationship.

This policy brief is the second of our series “Charting a New Course: Policy Options for the Next Stage in U.S.-Mexico Relations.” The policy briefs will be released individually and published as a volume in the spring of 2017. 

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UPCOMING EVENT | The State of Security in Mexico

security_lockWHEN: Friday, February 3, 8:45am-1:00pm

WHERE: 6th Floor Auditorium, Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click to RSVP

Homicides appear to have increased significantly in parts of Mexico during 2016. By one calculation, organized crime related homicides increased roughly 49 percent between 2015 and 2016. October was the most violent month in nearly four years, and after two years of decline, 2016 roughly matched the homicide rate for 2013. Moreover, major cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez that had experienced a decrease in homocides since 2012 saw a significant uptick. What is driving this troubling tren and what kinds of innovative programs are being implemented to reduce violence or prevent it altogether? Please join our panel of experts for a discussion about these and other questions.

Welcome

Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

The Current State of U.S. Mexico Security Cooperation and Future Prospects 

Eric L. Olson, Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute for Security Policy and Associate Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program

Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Panel I: What is Driving the Increase in Homicides in Mexico

Moderator: Clare Seelke, Specialist in Latin American Affairs, Congressional Research Service

Overview: David Shirk, Professor & Director, Justice in Mexico Project, University of San Diego

The Case of Tijuana: Octavio Rodriguez, Program Coordinator, Justice in Mexico Project, University of San Diego

The Case of Tamaulipas: Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Associate Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley & Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center

The Case of Ciudad Juarez: Alfredo Corchado, Journalist

The Case of Guerrero, Chris Kyle, Professor of Anthropology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Panel II: Promising Experiences in Violence Reduction

Moderator: Eric L. Olson, Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute for Security Policy and Associate Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program

Is violence reduction possible?  What’s the evidence? : Enrique Betancourt, Director of Violence and Crime Prevention Initiative, Chemonics International

A Public Health Approach to Reducing Violence: Brent Decker, Chief Program Officer, Cure Violence

Building Community Resilience Through Investing in Young Leaders: Carlos Cruz, Founder, Cauce Ciudadano, A.C

Reintegration of Young People in Conflict with the Law: Mercedes Castañeda Gomez Mont,  Director of Youth Program & Co-Founder, Reinserta Un Mexicano, A.C

Click to RSVP

Perceptions of Security Worsen for Average Mexicans: Poll

11/28/16 InSight Crime

handcuffsPerceptions of insecurity in Mexico have worsened year on year, and more people than ever since the start of the drug war think the government crackdown is making the country less secure. The latest opinion poll by El Universal and pollster Buendia & Laredo will be unwelcome but predictable news for President Enrique Peña Nieto and his administration. Despite government efforts to control the message around Mexico’s insecurity, the reality on the streets is making an impact on public opinion.

The findings by the latest poll were based on in-person interviews with 1,000 respondents. Although a tiny sample in a country of more than 122 million, the data provides valuable food for thought. Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the survey published by El Universal said they think that violence related to organized crime has risen, compared to 58 percent in November 2015.

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What President Trump’s Mexico-bashing May Look Like in Practice

11/9/2016 The Economist

ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, the president of Mexico, was roundly castigated at home for meeting Donald Trump in August. Mr Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, is reviled south of the border for calling Mexican migrants rapists, and for promising that he would force Mexico to pay for a wall between the two countries. In his defence Mr Peña said it was important to begin a dialogue early, with a view to reducing the potential harm a Trump presidency could cause Mexico.

That strategy is about to be put to the test. In Mexico the immediate effect of Mr Trump’s victory has been to send the already weak peso tumbling to new lows. Throughout the campaign the currency reacted badly to any perceived improvements in the Republican’s chances of victory. On early Wednesday morning it fell to more than 20 to the dollar—its biggest drop since 1994—on fears about the future of trade with the United States.

[…] Cooperation on matters of security is also of vital importance, and relations in this area are currently better than at any point in the past ten years, suggests Duncan Wood, head of the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Given that Mr Trump has complained about Mexican drug-traffickers coming into America, the chances of his undermining the very interactions that aim to keep them out are minimal. […]

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What a Trump Presidency Means for LatAm Organized Crime

11/10/16 InSight Crime

Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped)In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising victory in the US presidential election, InSight Crime considers the impact his administration could have on security and organized crime in Latin America.

Trump will hold the top office alongside a Republican-dominated Congress, as the party maintained a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Aside from his common refrain of building a wall along the US-Mexico border, Trump rarely touched on topics concerning Latin America during his campaign. This has created a great deal of uncertainty about his position on a host of issues related to the region, and his foreign policy more generally.

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Trump and Clinton clash over border security and U.S.-Mexico relations

10/19/16 Los Angeles Times 

Clinton&Trump.jpgHillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred in Wednesday’s debate over Trump’s plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump accused Clinton of favoring “open borders” and not having a plan to stop migrants and drug smugglers from illegally crossing into the country, while at the same time accusing her of voting for building a border wall when she was a senator.

Clinton countered by pointing out that when Trump met in private with Mexico’s president in August, he didn’t bring up his plan to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

“Trump went to Mexico and didn’t raise it,” Clinton said. “He choked.”

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Mexico: Judge whose court handled cartel cases killed

10/18/16 Al Jazeera

crime and drugsA federal judge whose court handled some cases related to drug cartels has been killed near Mexico City.

Vicente Antonio Bermudez Zacarias was murdered in Metepec, a town in the state of Mexico, the Supreme Court said in a statement on Monday.

President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned the murder and ordered the attorney general’s office to take over the investigation.

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