New from the Americas Policy Program

A Primer on Plan Mexico
By Laura Carlsen

To begin a public debate on the dangers inherent in Plan Mexico, first it is important to understand what Plan Mexico is. On Oct. 22, 2007 President Bush announced the $1.4 billion dollar "Merida Initiative," security aid package to Mexico. While mandating a huge increase in aid to Mexico, it includes no funds to finally address the poverty gap and development needs of our southern neighbor.

To avoid the pitfalls of this policy, a more effective binational plan would address root causes, develop mechanisms of binational coordination, and assume U.S. responsibilities and obligations.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@) is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City (, our Mexico Blog is available at

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No Country for Good Men in Chihuahua: Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Repression
By Victor M. Quintana

On March 27 "Operation Chihuahua" was sent to address the terrorized population of Ciudad Juarez. This operative’s purpose is "localizing, combating, and dismantling the networks of drug trafficking, organized crime, and money laundering." More than 2,000 Mexican Army soldiers and more than 400 federal police officers arrived at the border town within hours to collaborate with the state and municipal police in a joint action against organized crime.

However, the criminalization of social protest and persecution of social leaders are the first casualties. Simultaneously, the impossibility of combating drug cartels with an honest, professional, and effective police and having to resort to the army, shows in depth the great weakness of the Mexican state, epitomized by some as "too strong with the weak; too weak with the strong."

Victor M. Quintana is an adviser to the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua, researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, and collaborator with the Americas Program, at

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Juarez Mothers Demand Justice for their Murdered Daughters
By Kent Paterson

As Mothers across the world celebrated Mother’s Day, in Ciudad Juarez they continued to seek justice in the cases of disappeared and murdered daughters. Investigative journalist Kent Paterson chronicles the sad road from crime to impunity. No contemporary human rights crisis in Mexico has moved world public opinion more than the rapes and murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez and the state of Chihuahua. Mass protests stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border to Europe and to India have demanded justice.

Kent Paterson is a freelance journalist who covers the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Latin America, and an analyst for the Americas Policy Program at

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Fueling the Debate: Agrofuels, Biodiversity, and Our Energy Future
By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

Corporate giants of the genetics industry propose new technologies, including genetically modified trees, second generation cellulosic ethanol, and synthetic biology, to wean society off fossil fuels and fight climate change.

The implications for Latin America are breathtaking. How will this massive shift of the energy sector bring together major social and ecological issues in the region, such as agrofuel promotion, genetically modified (GM) crops, and the growth of agribusiness monocultures? Latin American civil society’s aspirations of land reform, environmental protection, alternatives to neoliberalism, and food and energy sovereignty, are at stake.

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero is a Puerto Rican independent environmental journalist and environmental analyst for the Americas Policy Program (, a fellow of the Oakland Institute and a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and founder/director of the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety ( His bilingual web page ( is devoted to global environment and development issues.

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Argentina Versus the World Bank: Fair Play or Fixed Fight?
By Tony Phillips

Arbitration over "tango" bonds continues to take place in the Washington, DC-based "International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes" (ICSID), a World Bank arbitration forum. While mention of the ICSID in London or New York will likely elicit confused stares, in La Paz or Buenos Aires it could well provoke a string of expletives.

Argentina is the ICSID’s biggest caseload and the ICSID represents a significant agent in the Argentine economy. A single negative ICSID ruling could cost the Argentine public hundreds or thousands of millions of dollars, equivalent to a significant tax loss or the price of constructing many, much needed, new hospitals. The ICSID has cost Argentina more than a billion dollars to date, and this latest ICSID claim from Rome is for a cool $4.4 billion, nearly a tenth of Argentina’s national reserves.

Tony Phillips is a researcher and journalist on trade and multinational finance with an emphasis on dictatorships and the WTO, and a translator and analyst for the Americas Policy Program at Much of Tony’s work is published at

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Comments from our readers:

I feel very optimistic when I find websites like this one; I agree with the point made in the article about how having coverage of this sort of news has the potential to create more activism. I really enjoy reading this sort of news rather then the usual media news. I also think that although it is true that there is no justice in Mexico, I believe that articles like this one are making some justice for the people that have been assassinated for a great cause.

Ana Mendoza