One Goal, Two Struggles: Confronting Crime and Violence in Mexico and Colombia

By
María Victoria Llorente, Jeremy McDermott, Raul Benitez-Manaut, Marta Lucía Ramírez de Rincón, John Bailey, Cynthia J. Arnson, Eric L. Olson, and Christine Zaino

Since the mid-2000s, violence related to drug trafficking and other transnational crime has increased exponentially in Mexico.  By the end of the decade the public began to seriously doubt the government’s strategy and its ability to guarantee public safety.  The nature and intensity of violence in Mexico brought forth memories of the 1980s and ’90s in Colombia, when the country was besieged by the Medellín and Cali drug cartels.

Over the course of more than a decade, Colombia’s security situation has improved dramatically; it has become an “exporter” of security expertise and has trained thousands of military and police personnel in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean as well as around the world. 

What aspects of Colombia’s strategy and tactics for fighting organized crime in its own territory offer useful lessons for Mexico?  What might Colombia’s steps and missteps offer by way of example or counter-example?  What is unique about each case such that comparisons are misleading?  What do current security challenges in Colombia suggest about the threat posed by organized crime more generally?

In One Goal, Two Struggles: Confronting Crime and Violence in Mexico and Colombia, international experts address the utility of comparing Colombia and Mexico’s experiences and strategy for combatting organized crime and violence more generally.

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Experts & Staff