Mexico: Taming the Drug Cartels

Opinions vary about how close Mexico is to becoming a failed state. Drug cartels control the municipal workings of entire areas of the country; the police, elected officials and the judiciary, and corruption is rampant. The US and Mexico share a significant border and huge amounts of goods and people flow between them. What are the risks to the US if Mexico sinks into anarchy and what should we be doing now to prevent it?

Transcript

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Welcome to Ideas in Action, a television series about ideas and their consequences. I'm Jim Glassman. This week: is the drug war pushing Mexico into chaos? Lurid headlines in Mexico have become a daily occurrence. Mass killings and assassinations are on the rise as Mexico drug cartels battle each other, the police and even the Army. Now the US military has begun training Mexican troops to fight the cartels. Should America get more involved in the growing unrest just over its southern border?

Joining me to discuss this topic are Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center and adjunct professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, Arturo Alvarado Mendoza, a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and professor of sociology at El Colegio in Mexico and Armand Peschard of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CEO of a consulting firm for companies doing business in Mexico. The topic this week: are drug cartels taking over Mexico? This is Ideas in Action.

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JAMES GLASSMAN:

Every day, nearly a billion dollars worth of goods and one million travelers legally cross the border between Mexico and the United States. The two countries' economies, cultures and populations are intertwined. And increasingly, so are its militaries.

Mexico is reeling from a violent drug war that has claimed at least 30,000 lives since 2006. That's when Mexican president Felipe Calderón called in the Mexican army to take on the drug cartels. Now, US military advisors have started training their Mexican counterparts. What more can and should the two countries do to combat the drug violence in Mexico?

Andrew, in January 2009, the US joint forces command said, I'm goING TO read this, Warn, "that Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state," because of its ongoing "vicious drug war." Now was that hyperbole?

ANDREW SELEE:

I think it was hyperbole. I mean, we're looking at a country that has several parts under severe stress. Violence is concentrated in the northern border, near the United States, the main drug transshipment routes into the United States, some port areas around Acapulco and elsewhere and a few transshipment corridors. But most of the country's fairly peaceful.

It is, you know, nowhere close to being a failed state. But there are parts of the country where the drug traffickers are going at each other with incredible violence that are under great stress. And we shouldn't minimize that. But-- but overall, you can travel through most of Mexico and not feel like there's a war going on, not feel like there's even the presence of this kind of violence that we see in the news.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Do you feel, Arturo, that Mexico's a failed state?

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

No, I don't think so either. But what I think is happening is that we are seeing-- I mean, the implementation of a huge, new-- federal policy trying to cope with the problem, that has been producing also more violence that we can-- that we could-- expected on this issue.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

So Armand, so the policy itself is promoting more violence. Is this-- the idea is this is temporary, then they're goING TO get it under control?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Well, you know, Mexico's a relatively young democracy. They're in the process of strengthening the judiciary. In doing so, not only are they trying to strengthen the judiciary, the prosecutorial process, but the law enforcement institutions as well. And in doing so, they're going after organized crime. Organized crime is-- very strong. It's a very lucrative business. And it's only natural that these-- interest groups would push back.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Is the Mexican judiciary getting less corrupt? I mean, the view that we have here is, whoa, these-- these guys are really corrupt. And a lot of them are in the pockets of the-- of the drug-- cartels. Is that changing?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

It's-- it's changing. It's an ongoing process. You know, the FBI has-- has been involved in-- in the administration of polygraphs-- vetting process. The US government is helping the Mexican government through its own technical assistance in trying to increase the integrity of these institutions. But-- you know, it's not-- it's not an easy process to undertake in Mexico.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Let's-- let's step back for a second. How important is the relationship between the United States and Mexico, economically, let's say?

ANDREW SELEE:

Oh, it's huge. I mean, Mexico-- I don't think most Americans realize how important it is. I mean, Mexico is the second export market for-- for the United States. I mean, this is, after Canada, the second country that gets our exports. We want to talk about reactivating the US economy, How do we really double our exports, you know, in five years? Mexico and Canada are probably the-- the two most crucial pieces. India, China, other markets don't take nearly as many exports.

It is also, obviously, you know, border communities are-- enormously interdependent. If you look at all the border states, Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, these are states who depend for their economic livelihood on production processes on both sides of the border, and commerce between both sides. And you know, if you look at our demographics, almost one in ten Americans is of Mexican descent today. This-- we're deeply tied to Mexico, both in terms of economics, but also in terms of our heritage.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

That's an amazing statistic. I mean, is that-- that-- that includes illegals?

ANDREW SELEE:

That includes illegals, but illegals are a really small piece of that actually. We're talking about-- about 10 percent of Americans have some-- have heritage in Mexico. Of that, about two or three percent of the people here ARE without documents. But the vast majority are people who were born in this country or who came to this country legally.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

So-- Arturo, so-- so the United States has-- a major stake in what happens in Mexico. I mean, not only is it close, but it's-- but it's-- we-- we're economically-- dependent. We're culturally-- inter-- intertwined--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

IntertwineD-- in a way, yeah. And-- and this interdependency's growing. And I-- I would like to stress to that, for the Mexican side-- United States is the most strategic economic partner and also the commer-- the most important commercial-- and political partner in-- in the region. So this is a crucial relation, both for the governments and both-- and also for the business community and for the Mexican society.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And you know, when you-- when you look at-- the-- the economic statistics, Mexico's actually doing pretty well. I mean, it has recovered from the recession --

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

not-- not as much--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

--And the stock market's going up--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

it's on the way - It's on the way. The stock market in Mexico, it's-- it's-- it's in the way of getting recovered. A few weeks ago, there was a bond that was-- announced by Mexico and was-- almost immediately at the stock market in the United States, which is-- which is just a sign that is-- I mean, that the investment community in the world trusts that Mexico has potential to grow and is an important economy in the world, so-- which is a good indicator.

But on the other hand, we're still on the-- I mean, on the back part of the recovery of the United States. The problem of narco traffic and-- and organized crime, as he mentioned, is not just a simple issue about this war against drugs. But it's-- I mean, it's an issue about all the interTWINED organizations and economic interactions that this organized crime has created in Mexico for decades.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Armand, is this-- is this something new, the nar-- this crime or is it just accelerated, or is it something we just haven't paid any attention to?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

No, I mean, organized crime has been in Mexico for many years. Part of what's happened is that when-- when Mexico was governed by a single party, one of the ways in which they dealt with organized crime by-- was by arriving at pacts of coexistence. That's much more difficult to do in-- in a democracy. Mexico has become very plural. You no longer have a single party holding-- you know, the presidency, the majority in Congress, the majority of governorships and municipalicities. Now, Mexico's much more plural. And it's very difficult for one party to try to negotiate with organized crime, which was what was done in the past.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

So how is Calderón doing? And-- and what do the Mexicans think of it?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Well, I tend to think that at the end of the day, he's doing well. This is not an easy battle. There are always going to be critics. There are always going to be setbacks. But comparatively speaking, I think that this is a government that has done more than any other previous government, in terms of trying to push through the reform. It's not just the-- the executive branch. The Mexican Congress as well-- has been supportive in this transformation.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Do you-- do you-- do you agree with that, Andrew? Do you think Calderón's done a good job?

ANDREW SELEE:

I think he's done the right thing. I think he's done the only thing he had to - Any president in his position would have had to-- to really step up. The thing, you know, as-- as drug cartels-- shifted their strategies from the Caribbean to Mexico, this was going to happen to whoever was sitting in that-- in that office right there. And so I think he's-- he's stepped up. He's been committed to this.

That said, where they've moved slowly is on the judicial reforms, the police reforms, the kind of things that make it hard for organized crime to operate. Always say that you have-- you know, the biggest consumer nation for drugs in the world, the United States, sitting next to a country with weak rule of law, Mexico, that's just gone through a democratic transition. I mean, that's a recipe for disaster. Mexico has done very well in going after some of the cartel leaders. They've had some real success in the last year. They've caught some of the-- the biggest fish in the-- in the pond.

But they haven't done as well yet in stepping up the-- the pressure on reforming the police and the judicial system and the prosecutors. You've still only got about two to five percent of major crimes that are-- ever lead to a conviction and putting someone behind bars. If you're-- you know, if you're a hired killer, your chances of ever ending up-- behind bars is very low, which means there's huge incentives to continue doing what you're doing. If you're a drug trafficker, huge incentives to continue doing what you're doing.

And on the other side of the border, in the United States, there's a lot more we could be doing to help Calderón out as well. Particularly following the money trail and-- and the trail of weapons that are going southward and-- and getting into the hands of the drug traffickers.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Because the Mexicans are complaining that they get all their-- weapons from the United States. They're saying, you know, if you had-- if you had tougher gun laws-- we'd be better off. I don't-- do you think that's true?

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

I mean, it might-- it would-- it might be better off. I'd like just to add one thing that it's important to point out in this-- contemporary poli-- federal policy about the organized crime, the war against organized crime, that there is strong impunity even now. I mean, the government has not really improved its-- policies and-- and the development of-- better policies to improve and to reduce impunity. That's the first thing.

The second thing that is important to note about this policy, that has been implemented at the fEDERAL level, is that-- to begin with, there was no-- I mean, forecast to why-- how long this was goING TO take. Still we don't know what is going on. And third, there is-- a systematic problem with violations of human rights of citizens. And citizens are still, I mean, on the dark-- on the darkroom of all these things. We are completely unprotected when you go to these wars, because the wars are going on in the streets in Mexico, in the border cities, in Monterrey and in other places.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

You know, I--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

This is a major issue that was not forecast by the govern-- Calderón government. And they have not done enough in order to really protect the citizens through these things. So this policy has to shift, has to improve the security of the population --

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And does that--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

As well as foreigners.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Does that affect the poor disproportionately?

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

I think it's affecting--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

This kind of abuses you're talking about--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

--most of the poor and the middle class in major cities in the country. One issue that you can see clearly, for instance, is in Ciudad Juárez, in the border city, most of the people is migrating to the United States, in order to pro-- protect themselves, protect their faMilies--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Right. But they're protecting themselves against organized crime. They're not protecting themselves from-- from government abuses.

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Well, up to the point, no. But the problem with the army and military police abuse goes all the way from middle to lower classes. And this is not stopping yet. there has been strong discussions at the Con-- at the level of Congress about reforming the military, the military justice system, And also trying to bring up the military into civilian justice. We have not-- been able to really put this into, I mean, a legal new settlement.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And do you think-- well, let me ask Armand this question. Is-- is that a good idea? In other words, Mexico is a federal system, like the United States. And-- there is pro-- there are problems with local police. Would it be better if the federal government had played a bigger role, either through the federal police or through the military?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Well, that's, I think, what they're trying to do, is professionalize and try to-- weed out, for example, some of these lower-level police officers that have been on the payroll. They've been-- they've been providing outsourcing security services for organized crime. And the challenge for the federal government is how do you address that? And one of the ways in which they-- they figure to do that is by trying to create a federal police-- that would be deployed at-- at the state level to basically administer-- law enforcement operations at state and municipal levels.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

This-- this also brings up the issue, which you raised earlier, of the role of the United States. So during the Bush Administration, there was the Merida Initiative. Is that still-- what is that? And is it still robust? And is that a way to help-- Mexicans in this-- in the law enforcement effort?

ANDREW SELEE:

Well, I think-- I think we've had a real positive development. The Merida Initiative, which was announced by President Bush and President Calderón, was the idea of the US supporting Mexico with a package of aid-- some hardware for the police and military, but also training for the judicial system, for the police and-- and for prosecutors, as well as some software inspectors, things you can-- you can find. You know, weapons and drugs that are crossing the border.

It's worked fairly well. It's-- it's moved slowly. But-- but where it's worked most effectively is I think it's gotten the US and Mexico to go beyond blaming each other for the problem. In the past, people in Mexico often said, "The US is to blame. You know, you guys are using the drugs up there. If you'd stop using drugs, we wouldn't have this problem." In the US, we'd look across the border and say, "It's the power of corruption in Mexico. You know, if the authorities weren't corrupt, we wouldn't have this problem."

We've moved beyond that. And we're talking about shared responsibility. Now what that means depends on the day. But-- but finally, we're talking about the fact that, "Wait a minute. This is not gonna get better until we deal with the consumption side in the US, until we build rule of law in Mexico. Let's see what we can do together."

And there seem to be some genuine efforts, where I think it's been most effective. The-- the aid is flowing slowly, slower than it probably should. But it's flowing. But more importantly, I think there's a lot of information sharing. Particularly as-- as these drug dealers move across the border, they've started to share intelligence about their movements, about where they hide out, where their money is located.

So we're starting to see some captures of leaders, some captures of money that we didn't see in the past. Starting to see some capturing of weapons, though not as much. And so I think we-- we've seen a cooperation that's increasing in a positive way. Could it go a lot deeper? Yes. I mean, I think we're at the beginnings of this.

For Mexico, there's a lot of distrust of the US. And you know, sort of the traditional, the big country to the north. And I think in the US, there's sort of a distrust - You know, where is corruption in Mexico if you share information? How's it goING TO be used? But the more they have the successes, the more they move forward.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Arturo, this-- this-- this issue of demand for drugs in the United States. I agree. The blame game doesn't help anybody, but the fact is--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

--it does not help in the end.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Right, but the-- but the fact is that this is-- a critical element--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Element--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

--in this entire puzzle.

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Yeah.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Is there something that the United States could do on either-- either legalizing drugs, for example, or-- or-- or being tougher on drugs--

(OVERTALK)

JAMES GLASSMAN:

--that would help the situation in Mexico?

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Well, but I mean-- you can take it not only for the United States, but also for the Mexican case, because drug conSUMPTION in MeX-- illegal drug consumption is growing. I mean, a very steady, fast-- pace, which is another problem that we are facing. And there's no policy for that. Legalizing illegal drugs now, it's a very complex process, because you don't-- you will not only legalize the consumption. But there is the whole-- production chain that you really have to look backwards.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Right. So you're saying--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

So this is--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

--if you legalize consumption, but you-- but production, unless you-- unless you change that entire--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Entire chain.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

--supply chain.

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Now the other policy that I think that-- that both countries are not implemented to the full length and the-- ability that we have is prevention policies, which is the major point in here. I mean, so you not only have to fight the organized crime, which you will have to do anyway. But you also have to develop policies that will prevent younger persons and adults, too, of getting involved and-- and consuming illegal drugs, because they don't-- this is not only a policy about drug, illegal drugs. It's also about human trafficking, which is very-- it's very important and it's the second-most important locality(?) business--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Yeah, what-- what about--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

--in this thing, and from that, smuggling and other issues that are important.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

There is a tremendous amount of-- of human trafficking-- the exploitation especially of-- of women-- I know it takes place a lot in Texas. Is there anything-- what's the relationship there?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Well, I mean, you know, I look at organized crime as multinational corporations-- that have multiple divisions, business lines. Drug trafficking is one. Human trafficking is another. Contraband is another. Arms smuggling is another. And so at the end of the day, you know, if you want to take-- either tackle organized crime and-- and-- and the drug smuggling or organized crime involved in human tracking--trafficking, You still have to go after these organizations.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

You know-- a lot of Americans believe that-- that there is a problem with secure borders. So if the border between the United States and Mexico, which is 1,950 miles, were somehow made secure, would that have an effect on any of these problems?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

You know, I personally don't think-- I think it's more of a political solution. You know, I think it plays well with the public. Unfortunately, I don't think it's very effective. You have to strengthen the intelligence-gathering capability on both sides of the border, to give the law enforcement the information to be able to carry out transnational operations, sting operations, that not only dismantle some of these illicit activities, but that gets you the intelligence necessary to secure prosecutions.

And the US and the Mexican government have started to, as Andrew mentioned, share intelligence. And there's been operations on both sides of the border. But in my opinion, it's not enough. They're moving in the right direction. And that's where I think the foc-- the focus has to be.

ANDREW SELEE:

There's a real diminishing returns, I think, for spending money at the border. The-- the more boots on the ground at the border, probably the less efficient. I mean, the more boots on the ground, if you want to-- you know, really go after drug traffickers, you have to hit them in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and you have to hit them in Atlanta, Georgia, and not just at the border. And we haven't done that. We've actually keep spending on the border and we don't spend in Atlanta and Monterrey.

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Let me-- let me also make a point. We also have to be mindful that at the end of the day, just sending forces to the border is also going to increase their exposure to organized crime. And we are kidding ourselves if we think that it's only Mexican forces that are vulnerable to corruption. These organizations handle, you know, millions if not billions through their various business lines. And they're paying off officials on both sides of the border.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And a million people cross the border every day. And a billion dollars worth of goods. So it's kind-- it's-- it's a lot. It's very hard to-- hard to control that. The US military is getting involved in Mexico, as you mentioned. Is that something that-- that Mexicans are concerned about?

ANDREW SELEE:

I think very much so. Although the-- the US military has been very reserved in how they do this. I mean, there aren't-- there isn't really a US military presence in Mexico at all. And I don't think Mexicans would ever accept that. I mean, there-- there is a sense, given the history between our two countries-- there's-- a strong sense of sovereignty in Mexico. I mean, willingness to work closely with the US, but not to go that far.

But there is-- military training going on. I mean, Mexicans coming up to the United States, meeting with people who have experience. There's some experience being shared from Afghanistan and elsewhere. And-- and actually, I think one of the most exciting things in this relationship, because we're such close countries, I mean, you're seeing judges, attorneys' general, I mean, a whole state attorneys' general-- prosecutors who are going down to Mexico, training their counterparts. Bringing their colleagues up for training to see how the US judicial system functions. And I think that's actually some of the most exciting exchanges going on.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Is there concern among Mexicans, though, about military mission creep?

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Yeah, there is-- strong concern in-- I mean, in the public opinion, in society, as well as in the military. Most of the military, I mean, groups inside the groups, I mean, will never accept the-- the physical presence of US Army troops or even-- training operations in Mexico.

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

In so far as the successes in-- in-- in bringing down some of these capos, these cartel figures-- it's not just been the-- the Mexican federal police. The Mexican army and the Mexican navy have had some successes. And they're-- they are in this fight. And the US is-- is-- what is-- what the US is trying to do is trying to help them to mature as well institutionally.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

I want to ask all three of you how you see the future-- beginning with Andrew. You all three said you don't think that Mexico's on the verge of being a failed state. But do you think that the-- the battle against the narco terrorists, let's call them, is improving? Are things getting better? Will things get better over the next year or two? Or does Mexico risk falling into chaos?

ANDREW SELEE:

I don't think Mexico risks falling into chaos at all. I mean, but I think the price of the government getting better in their strategy is that things will get worse on the ground for a while. The more that they can get some of the bad guys and put them behind bars, the more you create fights among the different cartels.

I mean, what we've seen that-- that most of the violence is really drug traffickers going AFTER drug traffickers. And-- and they're more than drug traffickers. As Armand said, I mean, they're involved in all sorts of businesses. But these organized crime groups going after each other. That's the real bulk of the violence.

This is goING TO increase. The more they get some of the top leaders, the more there's goING TO be leadership fights within these groups, the more they're gonna split off. So this is goING TO be bad for a very long time. I think the challenge in the long term, for this to-- for the violence to go down is when you start to see people actually arrested, prosecuted and put away in jail in credible trials. And I think Mexico's still a long way off from that. I think they're working on it hard.

But it's going to take, you know, five or ten or 15 years before we can say the police are completely credible, People feel comfortable going to the police, They know the prosecutor's always doing the right things, And the court system is fair. When that happens, you'll start to see drug traffickers be very careful about their actions, like we do in this country.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And-- and by the way, we-- we do have-- extradition from Mexico of some of the worst-- drug traffickers.

ANDREW SELEE:

Which has been very effective--

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Correct? And that's been--

ANDREW SELEE:

It's been very effect-- and that's what they're real--

(OVERTALK)

JAMES GLASSMAN:

That's what they're really scared of.

ANDREW SELEE:

And actually, for the top drug traffickers, they really are getting them and-- and sending them to the US. And they fear-- they're starting to fear that.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Armand, briefly, how do you see the future?

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

I'm positive, because at the end of the day, Mexico is in this-- process of transformation, trying to-- to strengthen the judiciary. I think it's important for us to realize that it's in our best interest here in the United States to make sure that Mexico's successful in that transformation. We talked earlier about the economic interdependence. Our future here in the United States is tied to the future of both Canada and Mexico. I kind of look at it as-- as a neighborhood. And we really need to look at-- helping Mexico to continue through this transformation.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And I should add that right now, the Mexican economy is actually growing faster than the US economy. Arturo, how do you see the future--

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Yeah, I'm also positive about the-- I mean, the future. I see several transformations that are important-- on the ground that are goING TO start having some effects. Not in 15 years. I would say that between three and five years, we will start looking at effects.

The longer the federal government is involved itself in this-- I mean, military and police war, there's still going to be violence. But I think, in a year or two, we're goING TO see major crackdowns on the organized crime. I mean, they have dis-- disrupting the-- the routes. They are disrupting the way they have been working in cities. And even though they have to reveal the cities, reveal the con---- the institutions, the basic institutions, police, the-- the municipalities-- the local governments. I mean, they are doing-- a major-- a major job in this thing. And we're goING TO see some changes by the--I think by the end of this administration of-- Calderón.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Thank you, Arturo.

ARTURO ALVARADO MENDOZA:

Thank you very much.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Thank you, Andrew.

ANDREW SELEE:

Pleasure to be with you.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And thank you, Armand.

ARMAND PESCHARD-SVERDRUP:

Thank you.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

And before we go, I want to remind viewers that you can catch Ideas in Action whenever and wherever you choose. To watch complete shows, just go to our website, ideasinactiontv.com, or download a podcast from the iTunes store. And that's it for this week's Ideas in Action. I'm Jim Glassman. Thanks for watching.

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Featured Guests

Arturo Alvarado Mendoza

Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy

Dr. Arturo Alvarado Mendoza is the Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow (Oct 2010 - Feb 2011) at NED and a professor in the department of sociology at El Colegio de México. He previously taught at Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris III and Brown University. He has been a visiting fellow at the Program on Human Rights and Justice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is also a founder of Democracia, Derechos Humanos, y Seguridad, an NGO based in Mexico City.

An expert on the rule of law in Mexico, Dr. Alvarado has held consulting positions with the United Nations Development Programme and the UN Crime Prevention Unit. He has authored numerous publications, including Towards National Security: Domestic Security and National Security in Mexico in the 21st Century (2010). During his fellowship, Dr. Alvarado is examining the role of violence in state formation in Latin America. Using Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia as case studies, he is investigating whether the rise of endemic violence in Latin America is challenging the consolidation of these democratic regimes.

Andrew Selee

Director, Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute

Andrew Selee is Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, which promotes dialogue and policy research on U.S.-Mexico relations. He served previously as Senior Program Associate of the Latin American Program and as professional staff in the U.S. House of Representatives and worked for five years in Mexico. He is editor or co-editor of several publications on US-Mexico relations, Mexican politics, immigration, and decentralization.

Selee is an Adjunct Professor of Government at Johns Hopkins University and has been a Visiting Scholar at El Colegio de México. He is a Board member of the U.S.-Mexico Fulbright Commission (Comexus) , a Contributing Editor to the Handbook of Latin American Studies, and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A long-time volunteer of the YMCA, Selee served for five years on the National Board of the YMCA of the USA and chaired its International Committee.

Armand Peschard-Sverdrup

Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup is a senior associate at CSIS and the CEO of Peschard-Sverdrup & Associates. He served at CSIS for more than 13 years, where he was director of the Mexico Project. As director, he analyzed Mexico’s domestic politics and U.S.-Mexican relations, with emphasis on trade and investment, national security, border security, and the broad range of issues that encompass the bilateral relationship. He also directed the CSIS North American Futures 2025 Project and is an expert on the strategic priorities of the three nations that make up North America.

Peschard-Sverdrup frequently briefs administration officials, members of Congress, and corporate officers. He is a guest lecturer at the Mexican Advanced Area Studies Seminar at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., and the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, Ontario.

His recent publications include The Future of North America, 2025: Outlook for Security (CSIS, 2008); The Merida Initiative: Why it Must Succeed (AEI, 2008); and Mexican Governance: From Single-Party Rule to Divided Government, coeditor (CSIS, 2005).

Prior to joining CSIS, Peschard-Sverdrup was senior consultant with Econolynx International in Ottawa, Canada. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a degree in political science and economics and did his graduate work at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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