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Mexico Is Not Colombia

Mexico Is Not Colombia: Alternative Historical Analogies for Responding to the Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations

Christopher Paul
Colin P. Clarke
Chad C. Serena
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    Mexico Is Not Colombia
    Book Description:

    Despite the scope of the threat they pose to Mexico’s security, violent drug-trafficking organizations are not well understood, and optimal strategies to combat them have not been identified. While there is no perfectly analogous case from history, Mexico stands to benefit from historical lessons and efforts that were correlated with improvement in countries facing similar challenges related to violence and corruption.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8443-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Psychology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Drug-related violence has become a very serious problem in Mexico. Violent drug-trafficking organizations (VDTOs) produce, transship, and deliver into the United States tens of billions of dollars’ worth of narcotics annually. The activities of VDTOs are not confined to drug trafficking; they extend to numerous other criminal enterprises, including human trafficking, weapon trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering, extortion, bribery, and racketeering. Then, there is the violence: Recent incidents have included assassinations of politicians and judges; attacks on rival organizations, associated civilians (i.e., the families of members of competing groups or of government officials), and the police and other security forces; and...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Contemporary Violence and the Broader Context in Mexico
    (pp. 11-52)

    This chapter describes the Mexico case, the index case in this overall analysis. Note that while this report puts forward alternative perspectives on policy prospects for Mexico and is thus clearly about Mexico, it is at least as much—if not more—about the comparison cases. In some sense, Mexico is just one of the 11 cases treated in this report. Others have studied Mexico in its own context in much greater detail and at much greater length. Here, we draw from that excellent and extensive body of scholarship and summarize key points that are critical for comparative purposes.


  11. CHAPTER THREE Finding the Right Comparisons: Case Selection
    (pp. 53-60)

    As noted in Chapter One, we chose our comparison cases according to four possible classes that might wholly or partially correspond to Mexico: cases of warlordism, cases of ungoverned spaces, resource insurgencies, and earnest efforts to combat organized crime.¹ These four categories do not offer the only possible points of comparison with Mexico by any means; other cases could be comparable to Mexico along such dimensions as levels of drug trafficking, corruption, and overall economic health. The four categories we chose to pursue have several virtues. First, they can be isolated in time. That is, they are not steady-state, ongoing...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Comparing Mexico with the Challenges Faced and the Outcomes Reached in the Historical Cases
    (pp. 61-78)

    The cases considered here all have elements in common with Mexico and individually offer cautions, advice, or lessons for future Mexican security efforts, but broad comparison remains somewhat tricky. Although we selected the cases that fell into four common categories (warlordism, ungoverned spaces, resource insurgencies, and organized crime), the detailed case studies revealed that the challenges faced in each case country differed, as did the solutions pursued. Thus, there is no simple way to take the combination of efforts that “solved Colombia” and compare them with the efforts that “solved the Balkans,” then extrapolate a recipe for success in Mexico....

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 79-92)

    Mexico is not Colombia, but which historical cases are better comparisons? This chapter summarizes the conclusions that can be drawn from the case studies, and synthesizes several policy recommendations that should support progress in resolving the range of specific challenges associated with the broader security situation in Mexico.

    Through this research, we sought to identify the best possible comparative cases to use to make analogies to Mexico, drawing from cases of warlordism, resource insurgency, ungoverned spaces, and organized crime. We began with the observation that Mexico is not particularly analogous to Colombia, even though Colombia is the most frequently invoked...

  14. References
    (pp. 93-104)