The Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars’ Mexico Institute working paper on how media reports focus on the security aspects of Mexico, particularly organized crime, at the expense of economic indicators that might paint a different picture of the situation in that country. This paper is an effort to, as the title puts it, restore Mexico’s reputation and alter the way in which policy makers view the country.

An extract from the text:

Mounting casualties from the war on crime and relentless political conflicts have made it virtually impossible for policy makers to focus their energies on policies to resolve Mexico’s structural problems. With little else to talk or write about Mexican and American pundits and reporters are obsessively focused on corruption, the drug wars and the migration of undocumented workers to the United States.

All of these issues are real but they are not the only news about Mexico that is worth writing about. So much attention focused on these issues has damaged Mexico’s reputation, creating the perception that the country is overrun by violent criminals that destroy lives and properties on a whim. Policy makers have been influenced by the change in perceptions. For many decision makers in the U.S. Mexico has become primarily a security problem; the country is no longer perceived as a key business prospect.

If the conventional wisdom about Mexico were accurate, key policy decision-makers’ time would be saved by delegating economic and political decisions to lower level bureaucrats and functionaries so as to focus energies exclusively on organized crime, corruption and undocumented aliens. But the reality about Mexico is far more nuanced and subtle than the prevailing caricature conveys.

Read the full paper here (pdf).

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