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Reimagining the Future of

U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation

It is a difficult moment for the U.S.-Mexico relationship. A tangle of tensions, on issues ranging from energy policy to the operations of DEA agents within Mexico, seem to threaten a greater disruption of cooperation than previous conflicts. Simultaneously, two administrations with mandates for change have the opportunity to reimagine bilateral security interactions. Whether they will do so, and the ways in which they might develop more productive strategies, remain open questions. To explore these issues, the Mexico Violence Resource Project convened six experts to answer the question of how security cooperation and aid should change over the next four years.

Moving On from Military Cooperation

Adam Isacson

Stephanie Brewer

"A lesson of the Mérida Initiative years is that all four pillars are best fortified by civilian-to-civilian, not military-to-military, cooperation."

Beyond the War on Drugs

Gema Kloppe-Santamaría

"US-Mexico security cooperation has, for too long, revolved almost exclusively around the illicit trafficking of drugs. This vision is shortsighted and outdated"

A New Path Uphill

Celina B. Realuyo

"The Biden Administration will need to invest in confidence-building measures with Mexico and identify areas of mutual interest in the security arena"

Centering Civil Society

Rebecca V. Bell-Martin

"An engaged citizenry can be a powerful partner in security efforts. Local civil society has crucial knowledge about how best to address insecurity and its underlying causes in their particular communities"

The Chilling of Security Collaboration

Vanda Felbab-Brown

"Designating Mexican drug trafficking groups as terrorist organizations or decertifying Mexico for failing to collaborate with U.S. counternarcotics efforts are problematic tools, but without meaningful security cooperation, the United States may have no other option."