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Mexico, the Failed State Debate, and the Merida Fix

NCJ Number
249621
Date Published
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
This paper examines the discourse of 'shared responsibility' that the governments of the United States and Mexico created through the 2008 Merida Initiative.
Abstract
This discourse fixed the terms of a debate that stood in the way of bilateral cooperation, i.e., are Mexico's drug cartels terrorists, and if so is Mexico in danger of failing? Specifically, the discourse does three things. First, it clarifies the formal position of both governments that Mexico's drug cartels are criminals, not insurgents. Second, by using the term 'transnational criminal organisation' (TCO) to label the cartels, the United States accepts some responsibility for them. Finally, the discourse establishes a territorial notion of sharing so that United States participation inside Mexico is limited. Although 'shared responsibility' has been characterized as a 'paradigm shift' in how the two countries deal with one another (Benitez Manaut 2009, Revista Mexicana de Politica Exterior 87), this article argues that it reinforces a militarized status quo. By defining 'shared responsibility' as an obligation between states, the two countries do not have to articulate a joint responsibility to Mexico's civilians, who bear the brunt of both the cartels and the bilateral fight against them. This framing also helps explain the U.S. Government's muted response to abuses by the Mexican military since the agreement took effect. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: January 28, 2021