The increase of drug-related violence in recent years has destabilized a state prone to anarchy in certain regions, disrupted trade with American counterparts and contributed to the deaths of more than 50,000 people. Since the Calderon administration started the military as an alternate police in the wake of mass corruption, violence has escalated as foreign investment and the tourism industry suffers. With Mexicans expressing their discontent with the issue last Sunday, it appears that hope is coming from an old party with a new face.
In a predicted outcome, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) under charismatic leader Pena Nieto, which had ruled Mexico for 50 years straight prior to Calderon, defeated both the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the ruling National Action Party (PAN). As PRI returns to their position of power, how will a shift in power affect the Drug War in the short-term?
As with all new ruling governments, an initial transition period will likely disrupt the vital cooperation and coordination between Mexican and American authorities, since the relationship between these administrations gain definition. Despite a history of mutual suspicion between these two states, the relationship between Felipe Calderon and both the Obama and Bush administrations had been friendly, resulting in a marked increase in intelligence sharing and cooperation to combat cartels. Under the new administration, the possibility of mistrust may arise if the PRI returns to the strategies of old, which could result in a demilitarizing of the conflict and using forms of patronage in the hopes of quelling some violence.
Unbeknownst to some, the PRI has been seen historically as the party of stability, which often manifested itself into large payoffs and bribes to various corporate groups in exchange for political support during elections. Under the possibility implementing corporatist style strategies towards the Drug War, Nieto may be able to provide short-term stability, saving lives in the process, while reengaging the Obama administration in the hopes of finding more result and cost-effective strategies in combating long-term Cartel violence. Building relationships between administrations takes time, but the necessity of having both parties on the same page on issues such as border and gun control may outweigh the costs endured in utilizing corporatist strategies in the short-term. Irrespective of the Calderon administration’s strategy in targeting cartels, PRI’s short-term commitment to “violence reduction” through combatting homicides and kidnappings on the streets will only be successful with American support.
– Cody Levine