Across Mexico, the lawlessness and carnage of the drug wars have given rise to scores of local self-defense forces aiming to defend their communities. The federal government may be tempted to disband and disarm these armed vigilantes, but until it can shape up its security sector, the local groups offer an imperfect but acceptable alternative.
Mexico is winning its death match against the drug cartels and rebuilding once-corrupt institutions in the process. But an election is approaching, and the candidates are calling for a truce. Mexico can take its place in the sun, but only if it wipes out the cartels for good.
Mexico is currently suffering from the same sort of drug-related violence that plagued Colombia during the 1980s. Mexico and the United States can learn a great deal from Colombia's example, including that they must build law enforcement capacity and not rely solely on military force.
Afghanistan has long been the world’s chief supplier of opium. Yet poppy cultivation, much of which goes to finance Taliban insurgents, may jeopardize U.S.-led efforts to secure southern parts of the country.
Under President Alvaro Uribe's "democratic security" initiative, data suggests security in Colombia has improved significantly. But the country remains the world's biggest producer of cocaine, the rebel group FARC controls many rural areas, and paramilitaries show signs of regrouping.
Under the security cooperation agreement called the Merida Initiative, the United States provides military and law enforcement assistance to the Mexican government in support of efforts to combat drug cartels and organized crime. The United States and Mexico jointly developed this agreement in response to a substantial increase in drug-related criminal activity and violence on both sides of the border.