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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The mission of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, is to support multidisciplinary research on Mexico, U.S.-Mexican relations, and Mexican-origin populations in North America. The Center also sponsors comparative studies with substantial Mexico components. Beyond serving the University of California, the Center pursues close collaboration with Mexican institutions. As the premier institution of its kind, the Center seeks broad dissemination of its findings in order to inform public and scholarly debates in both Mexico and the United States.

The Director of the Center is Alberto Díaz-Cayeros, who received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University and is an associate professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD.

Cover page of Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter-Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context

Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter-Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context


The proliferation and impunity of organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking in recent years is one of the most pressing public concerns in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. While the vast majority of this violence remains concentrated within Mexico, it has raised very serious concerns among U.S. observers about possible “spillover” into U.S. communities along the border. In response to these trends, Mexico and the United States have taken significant measures to try to address the phenomenon of transnational organized crime. However, this pattern accelerated greatly during the Fox and Calderón administrations. This chapter explores two fundamental questions pertaining to Mexico’s ongoing public security crisis. First, why has Mexico experienced this sudden increase in violence among trafficking organizations? Second, what are the current efforts and prospective strategies available to counter Mexican drug trafficking networks? In the process, we explore the development of Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations and identify and consider the merits of the three conceivable scenarios for managing drug use —complicity with traffickers, confrontation of traffickers, or changing the paradigm for regulating drug use— all of which have inevitable undesirable effects.

Cover page of Process Management in the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Relationship

Process Management in the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Relationship


In the absence of an overarching strategic framework, it is useful to conceive of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Mexico as made up of a series of “baskets” of policies and programs. Each of these baskets constitutes a policy subsystem that responds to different arrays of institutions and interest groups; the relative priority of the baskets is typically weighed differently by different actors in each system; and the capacity of central governments to exercise influence varies across subsystems as well. This basket image obviously distorts and oversimplifies, but even so, the imagery conveys the complexity of the individual policy “whirlpools” and their interactions. The first section of the chapter traces the path in bilateral relations to the current setting; the second looks at the policy and programmatic issues associated with the rise to preeminence of security; and the third examines efforts to “rebalance” security with other issue areas. The last speculates about challenges likely to emerge in the Obama administration and the second half of the Calderón presidency.

Cover page of The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: Towards a New Era?

The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: Towards a New Era?


The U.S. and Mexico have been neighbors for more than two centuries. Despite intermittent attempts by Mexico to distance itself from the US out of a concern of US protectionism and its political, cultural and economic hegemony, a process of progressive economic and social integration has taken place among the two countries which expresses itself in high levels of trade, financial and labor flows. By 2001 some analysts and think tanks believed that sufficient progress had been achieved to propose a greater intensification of economic and social relations and even the creation of a North American Community. Multiple factors, however, have combined to dramatically transform the context of the relationship. The US and Mexico face a critical juncture in their economic, security, and social relations created by the US embarkation on a global War on International Terrorism after September 11, 2001, a sudden increase in levels of drug trade-related violence in Mexico, the US financial crisis stimulated by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, challenges thrown up by the dramatic reach of the economic globalization process, failed efforts to integrate the Western Hemisphere, and the need to incorporate new social forces as a result of the beginning of democratization in Mexico and its further development in the U.S. Will the policies adopted by each country to address these challenges lead to further cooperation and deepening of economic and social integration or is the progress previously achieved likely to derail?