Tackling Organized Crime in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities
Over the past decade, certain regions of Mexico have faced ferocious violence and escalating corruption tied to drug trafficking syndicates and other related organized crime. The Mexican government has fought to establish effective security and socioeconomic policies to combat crime and the allure of the drug trafficking organizations, and has worked to reform police forces and the justice system. Under the weight of these challenges, relations between the U.S. and Mexico have become strained, and will only intensify as the 2012 U.S. presidential election nears. What’s more, Mexico’s crime has spilled over into Central America as well.
On September 22, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion on attempts to tackle drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico, and released Brookings Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown’s new report, “Calderón’s Caldron: Lessons from Mexico’s Battle Against Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Michoacán.” Panelists included Brookings Senior Fellow Kevin Casas-Zamora; Andrew Selee of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars; and John Bailey of Georgetown University. Senior Fellow Ted Piccone, deputy director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
After the program, the panelists took audience questions.
Professor, Georgetown University
Former Brookings Expert
Director, Programa Estado de Derecho, Diálogo Interamericano
Director, The Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
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"You have to play the long game. It’s fine to add money, but when the commitment is volatile and your funding goes up and down constantly, you can end up creating more harm than good."
"We have been in Central America for a long time. It’s not just money that has made us effective in the region — there is a lot of hard-earned experience, trial and error, and institution building that is slowly reaping results. The worst thing that could happen now is to go back to zero."