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International Relations | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Gary Prevost, Political Science


Over the last ten years in Latin America, cartel-related violence has reached alarming levels – forcing many executives to respond. The increasingly-common response to dismantle organized crime is to militarize internal security through a high-value leadership targeting strategy. While Mexican President Felipe Calderon followed this approach in his “War-on-Drugs,” El Salvador President Mauricio Funes deviated from the norm and pursued a truce between the country’s two main drug gangs to supplement his holistic approach. Why does an executive choose the policy response of high-value leadership targeting pursued by militarization as opposed to alternative solutions to address organized crime-related violence? To answer this question, I explore the influences of executive ideology, the cabinet and legislature, and external actors on an executive’s policy response. Through a comparison case-study, I use a process-tracing analysis on President Calderon and Funes’ policy responses relying primarily on public documents and U.S. State Department cables retrieved through WikiLeaks – a data source I justify considering the limited public data surrounding the formulation of these decisions.

Available for download on Friday, January 01, 9999