Border zones and insecurity in the Americas by John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus

Border zones are incubators of criminal instability and violence. Weak state presence and the lucrative drugs trade is combining to challenge state sovereignty in acute ways. Consider Mexico, where the northern frontier with the US and southern border with Guatemala are contested zones. The bloody center of gravity of Mexico’s drug cartels is the ‘plazas’, the drug smuggling corridors that link the borders.

It is in the ‘plazas’ that violence is the highest, as cartels struggle for control of the most lucrative routes and federal police and military struggle to impose order and eradicate corruption. The tenacity of the fighting and the utter horror and barbarity of the violence signify the value of the terrain to the cartels – and the continuing importance of borders in the Americas as sites of conflict and illicit exchange.

While some have fretted that these zones could harbor jihadi terrorists, the real danger lies in the violence produced by bloody competition over these lucrative areas and the spread of criminal reach and power throughout the state and across frontiers.

Continue reading