Mexico Is Not Colombia

Seeking More Productive Analogies for Responding to the Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations

Published in: Small Wars Journal, June 24, 2014, 10 p

Posted on RAND.org on February 16, 2015

by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Chad C. Serena

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Despite the scope of the threat to Mexico's security, violent drug-trafficking organizations are not well understood, and optimal strategies to combat them have not been identified. Regions around the world have faced similar challenges and may hold lessons for Mexico. One point is clear, however: Mexico is not Colombia. In fact, Mexico is not particularly like any other historical case characterized by "warlordism," resource insurgency, ungoverned spaces, and organized crime. Despite the lack of a perfectly analogous case, security policy in Mexico stands to benefit from historical lessons and efforts that were correlated with the greatest improvements in countries facing similar challenges. This article summarizes key findings from analyses comparing 10 different historical cases with Mexico.

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