Ask CFR Experts

Is it part of the U.S. anti-drug policy to sell weapons to Mexico to combat drug cartels?

Asked by Zub Merch

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.

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See more in Mexico; United States; Drug Trafficking and Control

Foreign Affairs Article

Mexico Makes It

Author: Shannon K. O'Neil

Even as Mexico continues to struggle with grave security threats, its steady rise is transforming the country's economy, society, and political system. Shannon K. O'Neil argues that given Mexico's bright future and the interests it shares with the United States in energy, manufacturing, and security, Washington should start seeing its southern neighbor as a partner instead of a problem.

See more in Mexico; Economic Development; Latin America and the Caribbean


Mexico's Drug War

Author: Brianna Lee

Since 2006, the Mexican government has been in embroiled in a bloody drug war, which has failed to significantly curb trafficking. The ongoing conflict poses mounting challenges for Mexico, which is trying to polish its image as an investment hotspot, as well as the United States, its most important regional partner.

See more in Mexico; Drug Trafficking and Control


Mexico’s New Narrative

Author: Julia E. Sweig
Folha de Sao Paulo

Julia E. Sweig assesses the recent shift in Mexico's narrative under the newly inaugurated president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and the implications of this shift for Brazil.

See more in Economic Development; Mexico; Brazil


Media Conference Call: Jorge Castañeda and Shannon O'Neil on Nieto and U.S.-Mexico Relations

Speakers: Jorge G. Castañeda and Shannon K. O'Neil
Presider: Bernard Gwertzman

Listen to CFR Senior Fellow Shannon K. O'Neil and former foreign minister of Mexico Jorge G. Castañeda discuss President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and the future of U.S.-Mexico relations.

In an op-ed that appeared this week in USA Today, O'Neil argued that the main obstacle to better relations between the two countries is Americans' perceptions of Mexico and its people:

"In Americans' psyches, drugs dominate. When advertising firm GSD&M and Vianovo strategic consultants asked Americans to come up with three words that describe Mexico, nearly every other person answered 'drugs,' followed by 'poor' and 'unsafe.' Other questions reveal Americans see Mexico as corrupt, unstable and violent, more problem than partner. Americans had more favorable views of Greece, El Salvador and Russia."

Read O'Neil's USA Today op-ed "Mexico Isn't a Gangland Gunbattle."

In the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, Castañeda and historian Héctor Aguilar Camín claim that there is a political mandate in Mexico that calls for less corruption, greater rule of law, and improved economic justice:

"Mexicans' clamor for prosperity is no longer negotiable, and today, the country is less than a generation away from becoming the full-fledged middle-class society it aspires to be. But only if it gets to work now."

Read Camín and Castañeda's essay "Mexico's Age of Agreement."

See more in Presidents and Chiefs of State; Mexico