President Barack Obama and Mexican President Pena Nieto held this press conference in Mexico City after their meeting on May 2, 2013. They discussed immigration, security, and economic initiatives, and established the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue.
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.
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.
Edward Alden discusses the struggle to overcome the legacy of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and argues that increases in border enforcement over the past thirty years may be the strongest argument for why immigration reform in 2013 would not be a repeat of 1986.
Despite its booming economy, Mexico continues to struggle with alarmingly high levels of violence linked to drugs and organized crime. This video primer examines the crisis and explores policy options for Mexico and the United States.
Since 2006, the Mexican government has been in embroiled in a bloody drug war, which has failed to significantly curbtrafficking. 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.
President Barack Obama expanded the Merida Initiative beyond its original military scope but, CFR Senior Fellow Shannon O'Neil notes, implementation will require concerted efforts in both bilateral diplomacy and domestic policy.
The primary political parties in Mexico negotiated these accords to create congressional consensus and move forward on reforms in the areas of civil rights, economics, security, and governance. The original pact was signed on December 2, 2012, and a fourth political party joined on January 28, 2013.
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."
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."
Shannon K. O'Neil says, "[American] perceptions reflect the Mexican reality that dominates headlines: soaring crime rates and gruesome murders in a war against drug traffickers. But this window into Mexico overlooks an economic transformation and deepening ties with the United States that reflect a dramatically different country."
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »