The Colombianization of Mexico (with apologies to Colombia)

Here’s another US-centric view on the deteriorating national security outlook for Mexico as President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office next week.
Mexico: Decline & Fall (Coming Anarchy blog) notes that every individual imagines what is called an “official future…essentially a compilation of assumptions usually based on extending current trends into the future in a linear way.” Examples include “assuming the US dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency because it is now, or that Russia and the US will always be adversaries, that China will rise, or that the West will always be dominant politically and culturally.”
The author warns these assumptions are “dangerous because they create a bias that blinds regular citizens, analysts and policy makers to alternatives and to key indicators of change.”
Another tendency is to focus on individual trends or events and fail to use enough creativity or imagination to put them together and investigate the synergy of various developments or a confluence of events.
One part of the “official future” shared by most Americans is that Mexico will continue to be a stable semi-functional state. However, the last several years have underscored growing trends that point towards a very different future.
Americans are used to thinking about failed states and anarchy in regions like Africa or Central Asia, but not directly on their border. After all, a state can be repressive, poor and underdeveloped (see all of Latin America and the Caribbean) yet not be a failed state.
To be clear, at its present course, Mexico is in real danger of becoming a failed narco-state. While US and Colombian efforts have paid off and Colombia has improved dramatically over the last decade, Mexico has worsened. Instability and violence have increased, state institutions undermined and corrupted, and a population hemorrhage northward.
Several possible scenarios could play out for Mexico, but the most likely negative outcome is that years of drug violence combined with the worldwide depression push more Mexicans into illegal activity, some directly involved with narcotics and others only tangentially so. Unemployment and underemployment remain rife leading to further corruption, weak institutions and a shrinking tax base. More territory is ceded to criminal organizations while a hollow government presence remains in its northern and southern border areas. Over time, the central government’s control does not extend much further than the area surrounding Mexico City.
Violence, the global depression and increasingly instability, extortion and crime lead to increased illegal immigration to neighboring countries, especially the United States, and a further decline of Mexico’s economy. American and foreign investment dries up. Violence and organized crime also increases along America’s southern border as drug wars and related crime spill into the US. Illegal immigration into the United States becomes a major security issue as some border crossings close permanently and others frequently. The controversial border fence becomes a reality as boatloads of Mexicans begin washing up in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
The main point is that Mexico is sliding from a poor neighbor with good food and beaches and occasional crime to a hell hole like Haiti or a narco-state like Colombia was. The increased political swing to the left in Latin America also does not bode well and a further collapse of Mexico could lead either to a slow motion collapse into a failed state or possible military takeover. Mexico has been overlooked for a long time and if that does not change, Americans may face the day when they take all-inclusive vacations to a friendly Colombia while the State Department warns against all travel to Mexico.

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About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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