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Mexico: The Accidental Narco?

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Journal article

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With the escalation of drug cartel and gang violence in Mexico directly and indirectly affecting U.S. interests, the U.S. governments response has been to bolster border security and support Mexican president Felipe Calderon administrations efforts to break the cartels and strengthen the institutions of the Mexican state. This approach can be labeled as contain and consolidate -- contain Mexicos violence within that country while helping Mexico consolidate its government reforms to better combat corruption and tackle the cartels. The centerpiece of this approach is the multi-year, billion dollar Merida Initiative that was initiated in 2008 by the Bush Administration and re-authorized and expanded in 2010 by the Obama Administration. The Merida Initiative is at its core a joint security plan with four pillars 1 Disrupting organized criminal groups, 2 institutionalizing the rule of law, 3 building a 21st century border, and 4 building strong and resilient communities. Nonetheless, contain and consolidate as manifested by the Merida Initiative has not led to substantial reductions in violence in Mexico or in drug smuggling to the United States. The use of the Mexican military to bolster law enforcement efforts has brought some success in removing many cartel leaders from positions of power. However, the long-term use of the military in counternarcotics roles has led to many drawbacks in other areas. The lucrative nature of drug trafficking has corrupted many military commanders who saw opportunities for personal enrichment. The continued reliance by the Mexican government on the military for non-military purposes has led to a strategic stalemate between the Mexican government and the cartels. Current and future attempts to break the stalemate may have the ironic effect of causing the end of the Merida Initiative, thereby deepening the crisis in Mexico and creating even more strategic dilemmas for the United States.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Unconventional Warfare

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