Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bruce M. Bagley

Second Committee Member

Sallie L. Hughes

Third Committee Member

Elvira Maria Restrepo


In recent years Mexico has found itself at the center of the drug ?war? as powerful criminal organizations have destabilized the region by engaging in this illicit, multi-billion dollar trade that allows drug lords emerge as powerful political actors. Violence and corruption are having a devastating effect on the new and struggling democracy as the weak institutions put in place during the reign of the PRI have not been replaced with a workable system. The judiciary and law enforcement continue to be ineffective as President Calderon chose to mobilize the military to help combat drug trafficking. Mexico is also experiencing the challenges of drug addiction as the competitive trade drove dealers to open up local markets for cheap and highly addictive drugs. Mexico has found itself fighting the drug war on all fronts and this article seeks to explain the circumstances that led the nation to this vulnerable position. This article is a historical look at the processes by which Mexico transformed the economy to capitalism, developed and industrialized, and then transitioned to democracy, and found itself here in the eye of the drug storm.


Mexico; Drug Trafficking; Violence; Border Studies