The trip to Mexico could not have been better...
I met with a large number of graduates from the University of Essex who are now in various posts in the government, political parties, and academic positions. All of them value the educational experience they had at Essex and are now putting their knowledge and skills to good use.
I have to confess I arrived with a fair bit of apprehension since the international media coverage of the violence in Mexico had been more than alarming. I settled in well at my hotel, which was in Santa Fe, an emerging business zone with the presence of multinational corporations, as well as two of the main Universities that have colleagues with whom I met - Ibero and CIDE.
It was also very close to the headquarters for the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP), which has the onerous responsibility of ovserseeing law and order and the guarantee of human rights.
I found the entire experience as one of warmth, generosity of spirit, and seriousness of the work that is needed to address such deep seated and multi-fafeced challenges that Mexico confronts.
While there is no agreement, reports suggest that more than 25,000 people have died in the war on drugs since the Calderón government stepped up its efforts to eradicate the drug trade in 2006. While the exact number of killings and the proportion that are a result of inter-cartel violence are disputed, the seriousness of the problem and its multiple dimensions are not.
The analogies for dealing with the crisis have varied from terrorism, to insurgency, to criminal networks akin to Al Capone's organisation in Chicago. When I lectured at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) and to the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) we discussed how framing the issue affects the way in which to respond to it. (For pictures from the lecture, please click HERE).
Travelling around the city by foot and by car was a bit of challenge given the huge urban population and vast and sprawling city scape, but the museums, downtown area, and rich cultural experience were amazing. Lunch at the Opera Bar was a highlight as the food was excellent and the bar had remained virtually unchanged since the Mexican Revolution. The murals and maya exhibits in the Fine Arts Museum and the Anthropological Museum were simply breathtaking.
Our meetings were productive and hold much promise for future collaboration. Meetings with the various organs of government, academia, and the United Nations all went well as we defined new lines of collaboration. I am looking forward to a return visit very soon and in the meantime can get started on a series of projects on security, human rights, and governance.
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