03 March 2011 - 05 March 2011

The prospects for Mexico

Chair: The Honourable A. Anne McLellan PC OC

Continuing our series of conferences on countries of emerging global significance, we assembled a diverse group of experts on Mexico to discuss the country’s prospects and identify ways of tackling the challenges it is facing. Although the discussion on occasion took on a gloomy tinge, participants were also keen to point to the positives. These included great economic potential, steady economic growth over the past decade (notwithstanding the 2009 contraction), a growing middle class, a democratic system with free and fair elections, and respect for Mexico in multilateral institutions and from bilateral partners. However, it was natural for us to concentrate most on the huge challenges the country faced. Principal among them were a lack of political consensus on the way forward and weak institutions, both of which were a major drag on the necessary drive towards much-needed reforms in the areas of security, economic development and democratic checks and balances. Mexico’s foreign policy interests could also be usefully clarified, starting from Mexico’s role in its own region, particularly in Central America.

The subject we returned to most frequently was inevitably the security situation and the way this was affecting the country’s ability to fulfil its political, economic and diplomatic potential. ‘Security’ encompasses many areas, including food and water security, both of which are seriously threatened in the longer term by climate change, population growth and urbanisation. Water issues deserve particular attention, including on a regional basis. But the aspect of greatest immediate concern was the lawlessness and violence linked to drug cartels and organised crime. Participants pointed out that the pre-2000 set-up had been corrupt and ineffective in many ways but criminal violence had been contained because of complicity between the political system and organised crime. No-one was arguing for a return to that, but it had not been effectively replaced, and some of the changes and reforms had contributed to the current situation.  The police had for example fragmented into more than a thousand local forces.

The volume and severity of criminal violence had noticeably increased since the ‘war on drugs’ was declared and the army brought in by President Calderón’s government in 2006. 36,000 deaths since then, and 15,000 in 2010 alone, were much higher figures than from the current wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, and dwarfed global losses from terrorism. Suggestions that this was a sign that the policy was working were hard to take at face value. However it was also pointed out that levels of violence had already been significant prior to that declaration and that, for instance, the femicides in Ciudad Juarez had started occurring as early as the 1990s.

In any case no one denied that the violence was severely affecting many people’s daily lives. Levels of violence differed markedly between different parts of the country and different cities, but the problem was tending to spread, and in some cities the authorities now had very little control. There had already been a middle-class exodus in some areas. Impunity was rife. 98.5% of crimes went unpunished in Mexico. There was a systemic failure of the justice system to implement the rule of law effectively. It often seemed as if only the poor, who could not bribe their way out, were imprisoned. Meanwhile the media were increasingly unable to report the true extent of the problem through well-justified fear of reprisals.

Many thought it was important to note that the violence was not linked solely to the drug trade. Increasing robbery, extortion, kidnapping, assassination and gun assault were by no means all drug-related. They had existed prior to drug trafficking becoming the lucrative business that it now was and would continue if it became less so. The fundamental problem was international organised crime. This should be on the international agenda as much as terrorism, not least since its victims were considerably more numerous, and countries like Mexico and Colombia should work together to put it there.

Efforts to curb drug supply and indeed demand could therefore only do so much. The underlying issues also needed to be faced up to. Social and economic inequalities, and lack of opportunities for jobs and advancement, had allowed the penetration of organised crime into many spheres of activity. Crime was an attractive route for young people who would rather ‘live like a king for five years than like an ox for fifty’. Too many young people were neither in education nor in jobs. Nevertheless changing certain policies in the United States, such as reviving the ban on assault weapons, and doing more to control the flow of guns across the border, could have a noticeable effect on levels of violence. And there was a strong case for looking again at the whole issue of drugs on an international basis. While demand remained so high in many societies, including the US, it would always be met one way or another. Current drugs policies were not working, as the undermining of states, not only in Central America and the Caribbean but also in West Africa, demonstrated. Decriminalisation of drugs deserved to be looked at again, for example, no matter how much some politicians hated the idea, even though it could not be a panacea.

Ultimately the route to some kind of solution for organised crime, in Mexico as elsewhere, lay in internal reforms and a significant strengthening of domestic institutions. Specific internal reforms should include strengthening the police force – and improving coordination between different forces – and purging it of corrupt officers (although these officers were liable to turn to crime once dismissed). Recent judicial reform needed to be implemented quickly, and be seen to be bringing people to trial and convicting them. The army was not designed to be deployed in local communities. Local police forces therefore needed to receive appropriate training to deal with current challenges, and to coordinate much better among themselves.

More fundamentally there was not yet the necessary political consensus about what should be done. And there was a risk that if the PRI won the 2012 Presidential election, they would be tempted to try the old recipe of compromise and deals again. This would not work: the genie of organised crime and widespread violence could no longer simply be put back in its old bottle. On the positive side, it was suggested that the elite were now recognising that their own interests and safety were also threatened. This might allow the necessary consensus to be built.

Participants agreed that reforms were urgently needed not just in the area of security, but also in the political and economic sphere. Great progress in Mexico’s democratic system had been made since one-party rule ended in 2000. Electoral democracy was now well-established; the country had a free press and a variety of political parties; and there had been successful alternance of power in many places, though not yet in all states. However, vested interests still retained huge influence and there was limited transparency and accountability. Civil society remained relatively weak, and had perhaps even relaxed since 2000, thinking its job was done. It had to be strengthened now to allow the democratic system to grow further. The balance between local and federal institutions was still not right. Without a healthy civil society and further consolidation of democratic processes, progress could stall or even go into reverse.

Many participants argued that re-election should be introduced as a way of curbing the power of vested interests over elected officials, who currently had no need to fear reprisals from a disillusioned electorate, and of increasing continuity and experience in government. Others thought this was not the silver bullet sometimes claimed and that the problems lay deeper. In any case re-election was very unlikely to be introduced while the PRI opposed it. The political culture needed to be changed and a more effective system of checks and balances developed, at the state level as well as centrally. But this might not happen until the situation became worse and a deeper crisis forced change. For the moment the system benefited the political elite, and the incentive to bring in serious change was absent. Overall most participants thought the right way of looking at the current situation was to see Mexico as a consolidating, rather than fledgling or even failing democracy, but there were significant worries about the continuing power of corporate interests.

On the economic side, in many respects Mexico had the necessary conditions for success. Its Human Development Index rating had improved over the past few years. It had a growing middle class, exports were rising steadily, and foreign investment in the export industries was expanding well too. There was a huge demographic bonus to tap into: its population had relatively few old people, and a large working-age cohort. Policies needed to be developed to take advantage of this bonus and to harness it towards reducing the huge social and economic inequalities in the country. But this was not currently happening. Mexico was doing well, but not well enough, and was not fulfilling its undoubted potential. Growth was stuck at sub-optimal levels, and the steps necessary to enable Mexico to jump to the next level of sophistication, involving much more added value, were not being taken. The economy was stable, certainly, and this should not be underestimated, but the other way of looking at this was stagnation. While export-oriented industries were doing well, and Mexico’s labour costs might soon be lower than China’s, most of this depended on multinationals servicing the US market. Home-grown SMEs were not flourishing or exporting. Meanwhile 40% or maybe even more of the economy remained informal or ‘black’. This was a problem in all sorts of ways. For example there was no meaningful R and D or training in the black economy, both of which Mexico desperately needed.

Serious educational reform would be one way of helping to develop the potential: the education system was currently failing the next generation, despite some marginal recent improvements. Many children spent only eight years in school, and came out ill-prepared for the needs of a modern economy. Labour reform was also desperately needed. Most unions spent more time defending an unproductive status quo and vested interests rather than protecting workers rights and conditions. Mexico also needed to implement other reforms to transform itself into a value-added, diversified economy. There was a chronic lack of real competition in most key sectors eg Mexicans paid more for their mobile telephones than almost anywhere in the world, and still got a bad service. Rent-seeking habits were rife.  Productivity was not increasing as it needed to. Mexico needed to move away from maquilador-dependent (assembly) industries, improve regulation, and increase availability of venture capital and credit to allow entrepreneurs and SMEs to flourish (the recent introduction of easier and faster ways of opening new businesses should help with this).

The opening up of the oil sector was one reform that participants agreed was particularly badly needed. On present estimates oil would run out within ten years, but these estimates needed updating taking into account new technologies for extraction, and potential new exploration efforts. Pemex could not manage any of this itself while it was used as a cash cow for the government. Foreign know-how and investment could help. The Brazilian oil sector showed what could be achieved through sensible change, including dramatic invigoration of the national oil company itself. Ways had to be found to break down the current taboo on this issue in Mexico. Meanwhile the government was unhealthily dependent on tax revenue from oil. Deep fiscal reform was fundamentally necessary to lessen this dependence and increase Mexico’s tax revenue; it currently had the lowest tax burden in Latin America. This would also have the beneficial side effect of encouraging citizens to demand better services for the taxes they were paying – a virtuous circle could be created.

Against this complex internal backdrop, the conference looked closely at Mexico’s international relationships, starting with the region. The United States was obviously by far the biggest player. This was a blessing not a curse but brought problems with it too. Mexico’s relationship with its large northern neighbour had been central to its development over the years, and NAFTA had intensified this. Over 80% of Mexico’s exports went to the United States, and Mexican exports as a proportion of US imports as a whole were going up. Mexico’s 6.5% GDP dip in 2009 was certainly due to its economic integration with the United States, but the 5.5% recovery in 2010 had similarly reflected improved conditions in the US market. Levels of migration from Mexico into the United States remained very high, though currently declining a little, and remittances from Mexicans in the US were hugely important for the Mexican economy, though they too had recently reached a plateau for the first time. Immigration was bound to be a continuing issue between the US and Mexico. The challenge was to manage it effectively and cooperatively. Meanwhile the 30 million or so people of Mexican origin in the US represented an asset for Mexico which was not being fully used.

Many around the table agreed that Mexico should diversify its relationships and political and economic links. At the same time, all agreed on the difficulty of doing so in practice. The United States’ gravitational pull was inevitably enormous. The relationship would continue to be bumpy from time to time (there was a significant spat over drugs issues going on as we met), not least over difficult and complex issues such as immigration and drugs. Mexico had often taken a different line from the US on issues such as Cuba – and might well be able to play a key role in Cuban liberalisation at the right moment - but differentiation was hard where vital US interests were at stake. One way for Mexico to develop greater freedom of manoeuvre vis-a-vis its giant neighbour was to be a more successful society and economy itself and develop more effective relationships elsewhere. It would then be listened to more in the US and more widely. A closer relationship with Canada would also help, which meant greater efforts from both sides.

NAFTA, while it had had enormous commercial effects and had led to the development of a very large export industry in Mexico with many jobs, had in some ways been a disappointment to both the US and Mexico, and had not yet led to a real spirit of partnership between Canada and Mexico. It had been sold to Mexico as a passport to the First World and to the United States as a solution to the migration problem. In practice NAFTA could only deliver the basics of what it had been designed to do: increasing trade and economic integration. However unreasonably, many were now disillusioned, while taking the benefits for granted. NAFTA was not seen as obsolete by participants, but several questioned whether it had exhausted itself in terms of encouraging new and innovative routes of economic co-operation. Others asked why new areas of action could not be developed under NAFTA – one obvious element was energy. Greater economic integration with the wider region was in any case seen as highly desirable – existing Free Trade Agreements could be used much more, and new ones, such as that proposed with Brazil, could also make a real difference, even if the US would inevitably remain by far Mexico’s most important partner.

Mexico’s role in Central America received particular attention. It was suggested by some that other Central American countries were beginning to view Mexico with some resentment. They felt neglected in recent years, thought the balance of Mexican engagement had tipped too far to the north, and above all feared Mexico was trying to push its own drugs and crime problems southwards without offering help to deal with the consequences or recognising that this was not sensible in the long run from Mexico’s point of view. Institutions in many of these countries were even weaker than in Mexico, and the consequences of these states becoming increasingly dominated by organised crime would inevitably blow back on Mexico. Moreover, if Mexico’s own underdeveloped southern states were to catch up, progress in its southern neighbours was essential. Better infrastructure and regional links were desperately required. Colombia by contrast was seen as a good partner in the region, providing significant judicial and police training in some countries, for instance Nicaragua and Guatemala, offering them the benefit of Colombia’s own experience.

Others argued that Mexico was trying to help its southern neighbours, and had extensive cooperation programmes of its own. These were perhaps not well enough known and should be publicised more. But there was a recognition that resources were hard to come by in Mexico’s current situation, and more could and should be done. Central America was Mexico’s backyard, which it could not afford to neglect, and it should seek to play more of a leadership and coordination role there. It needed to work more closely with the US on this, since the US was inevitably the biggest single player in the area, and there were plenty of common interests. Others such as the EU and Canada would also be good partners, and had a strong interest too. A concerted plan, including agreement on where the resources should come from, could make a real difference. Mexico could usefully take a lead here.

Mexico had also tended to keep its distance from South America, and should strengthen its ties there for political, economic and security reasons, even if regional integration processes were not of great direct interest. Diversification of its economy could effectively be channelled through greater trade with South American countries, especially by building relations not only with Brazil but also with the Pacific Arc countries who had set up free trade agreements with, and had ready access to, Asian markets, and who were keen to deal more with Mexico too. Brazil’s own ambitions were not regional leadership – the Brazilians thought this was too costly for too little benefit. It was instead pursuing the position of a major global player, though it was not clear the Brazilians were prepared for the costs of this either. This meant Mexico did not need to see itself as a rival to Brazil in Latin America. The obvious way forward was a cooperative relationship, though an axis on the lines of the Franco-German motor in Europe was probably not practical politics. Any further development by Mexico of relations with other South American countries would need to take Brazil’s reach and power into account, but there could be some interest on the part of these other countries in having Mexico, especially as a fellow Spanish-speaking country, as a counter-balance to Brazil. There were opportunities here, should Mexico be interested in taking them.

In the wider world, Mexico did not seem to be aiming to become a global power player, and did not need to do so. Nevertheless there were new opportunities in today’s multipolar world, and there was widespread agreement that Mexico needed to define its international identity better in the 21st Century. What were its ambitions and who would be its key partners beyond the US? Mexico had traditionally espoused a non-interventionist foreign policy, and this remained important, but had in the past decade developed greater international outreach. This evolution towards a more active diplomacy, including promotion of democracy and human rights internationally, had had some useful side-effects internally, as had been the intention. But the Mexican foreign ministry and international network remained underpowered – over a third of its 150 overseas missions were in the US - and an international outlook appeared not to have spread to the public, who were still preoccupied with internal matters. Mexico was probably not yet ready to change its policy on taking part in UN peacekeeping, at least while the army was engaged in internal battles with the drug cartels, but this was a logical step for the future. Meanwhile the image problems associated with the current levels of domestic violence were inevitably a drag on Mexico’s international influence.

Nevertheless a clearer definition of Mexico’s foreign policy priorities and key interests was possible and would be valuable. Mexico could also seek to turn some of its problem issues, like migration and criminal violence, into assets by sharing its expertise and experience more. Outside the Americas, the EU had been seen as the key partner, politically as well as economically, and in some ways the relationship was going well. But the Global Cooperation Agreement’s results had been thin pickings so far, and trade remained disappointing, though Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Europe was now significant (49% of the total in 2010). Bilateral relations with the UK, Germany, Spain, and to some extent France (despite a current spat) were reasonably strong.

In Asia, the Mexican relationships with Japan and South Korea were reasonably well-developed, and could be taken further with other major players such as Indonesia. But links with China were underdeveloped. In trade terms the two countries were mostly competitors, with China exporting far more to Mexico than it imported, and mutual investment levels were relatively low. China did not have the same interest in Mexico as in some other Latin American countries, namely access to natural resources. Nevertheless more effort was needed on both sides. Mexican interest in Africa was limited so far.

In contrast to these bilateral relationships, where further efforts were needed to put Mexico in the right place for the long run, the country was using its fundamental commitment to multilateralism to develop into an important and effective multilateral player. Its role as mediator and host for the recent COP16 meeting at Cancun had been a notable success and good experience for a responsible leadership role in global affairs. Mexico was a valuable and positive member of the OECD and the OAS, and had been an effective Security Council member in 2009/10. Its 2012 Chairmanship of the G20 would be a further important opportunity to develop its international profile in a group likely to play a key role in future global governance, where Mexico had a guaranteed place at the table. While Mexico’s effectiveness came in some ways from its quiet role, and megaphone diplomacy was certainly not needed, a little more advertisement of its achievements in this area might not come amiss, including domestically.  

As should be clear from the above, conference discussion was wide-ranging and touched on many different domestic, regional and international issues. Although it is difficult to distil too much, and much of this is familiar territory, a summary of the key recommendations to emerge from the three days of discussion may be useful:

Domestically, deep reforms were needed in the following key areas:

  • The judiciary – current judicial reform proposals should be implemented as quickly as possible.
  • The police – there were too many separate forces. Police corruption needed weeding out and more effective ways of cooperation across forces needed to be found. Better training should be provided to combat the drug cartels – the army should not be used for law enforcement in local communities.
  • Security – development of a political consensus on the right approach. Within that:
    • the United States should be encouraged by the international community to reinstate its assault weapons ban and to control the southward weapons flow much more.
    • Mexico, working with Colombia, should bring international organised crime to the international table, including as a G20 agenda item – awareness of it as a cross-cutting strategic international issue needed to be raised.
  • Economy – long term strategies for the diversification of the economy, through increased competition, reduced obstacles to growth and entrepreneurship, and more emphasis on adding value, were urgently needed. Diversification of the oil sector was particularly vital - someone needed to find the political courage to put it on the domestic reform agenda. 
  • Fiscal policy – with a growing middle class, fiscal reform would allow the government to increase its budgetary base for essential reforms.
    • This should include the introduction of a security tax, following the example of a successful policy pursued in Colombia in its fight against the drug cartels, to make the citizens stakeholders in success.
  • Education – urgent reform was needed to fulfil the potential of a growing working-age population.
  • Labour – deep reform again needed, including more effective regulation of trade unions.
  • Democratic process – there was wide agreement that introducing re-election should be tried, civil society strengthened and attempts to find political consensus on the big issues stepped up.

Foreign policy reform was suggested in the following areas:

  • Mexico needed to develop a clearer foreign policy identity, and identify its key interests and partners more transparently. 
  • Central America should be a particular focus, with an emphasis on security cooperation and economic development. Mexico should develop a better vision and strategy for its engagement with South America, particularly Brazil. 
  • In the wider world, relations with key partners needed more work, with China a particular target.

Overall, if much-needed reforms were to be pursued, institutions had to be strengthened, and civil society encouraged. While radical reforms would be ideal, in practice piecemeal reforms, focusing on incremental progress, were probably the most likely way forward. Attempts at drastic measures would most probably fail and could destabilise the country further.  If reform continued to be inadequate, a particular catalyst, such as the oil and its tax revenue running out in a few years (‘a perfect storm’), might be the only way to unblock progress. In any case effective and courageous political leadership would be crucial in obtaining consensus for change and seeing reforms through.

Despite the emphasis on these challenges, positive developments and prospects in Mexico were also fully aired. Its potential was huge, international goodwill clear, and its people resourceful, hard-working and resilient. Progress in tackling the deep security problems would allow the country to move forward to concentrate on other much-needed reforms, as well as on its economic development and increased engagement with international partners. At the very least there would no doubt be enough muddling through and incremental change to avert a real crisis. We did not see Mexico as a failed or failing state. But muddling through would not bring the breakthrough which would allow Mexico to take its rightful place in the next generation of BRICs.

We were lucky to have an excellent and diverse group of experts at this conference and to be guided by such an experienced and enthusiastic Chair. Whether the glass was seen as half full or half empty, all recognised the promise waiting to be fulfilled in Mexico. Everyone was anxious to see this happen soon.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.


Chair:  The Honourable A. Anne McLellan PC OC
Strategic Adviser, Bennett Jones LLP, Edmonton (2006-); Member, Board of Directors: Nexen, Agrium, Cameco, Edmonton Regional Airport Authority; Board Member, Royal Alexandra Hospital Charitable Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton Society, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, Institute for Research on Public Policy; Member, Premier's Council for Economic Strategy; Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Alberta Institute for American Studies, University of Alberta (2006-).  Formerly: Liberal Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre (1993-2006); Deputy Prime Minister of Canada; Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (2003-06); Minister of Health (2002-03); Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (1997-2002); Minister of Natural Resources and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians (1993-97).

Dr Claudio Loser 

President, Centennial Group Latin America (2006-); Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue (2003-); Adjunct Professor, George Washington University (2005-).  Formerly: International Monetary Fund (1972-2002).

Mr Milton Costa Filho

Petrobras (1977-); General Manager, Petrobras México (2005-); Chairman of the Board of Directors, Regional Association of Oil, Gas and Biofuels Companies in Latin America and the Caribbean (2008-); Chemical Engineer.

Professor Alfredo Valladão 

Professor, Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Paris; President, Advisory Board, EU-Brasil Association; Editorialist, Radio France International. 

Ms Alexandra Bugailiskis
Distinguished Senior Fellow, The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Ottawa (on secondment from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT)).  Formerly: Assistant Deputy Minister, Latin America and the Caribbean, DFAIT. 

Dr Jennifer Jeffs 
President & CEO, Canadian International Council; A Director, Centro de Estudios y Programas Interamericanos, Mexico City; Member, Advisory Council, Canada-Mexico Initiative.

Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski 
Canadian Foreign Service (1982-); Ambassador of Canada to Mexico (2007-).  Formerly: Ambassador to Brazil (2005-07).

Dr Wang Peng 

Associate Professor, Division of Political Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.

Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora 

Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution, Washington DC; Adjunct Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University. 

Mr Petros Mavromichalis 

Head of Unit, Mexico, Central America, European External Action Service, Brussels.

Mr Pascal Beltrán-del-Río 

Editorial Director, Excélsior Newspaper.

Mr Gonzalo Canseco Gómez 
Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico (2008-).  Formerly: Lecturer on politics and economics, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) (2004-08).

Dr Denise Dresser 
Professor of Political Science, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (1991-); Political Columnist, 'Reforma' and 'Proceso'; Associate Editor, Los Angeles Times;  Co-Host, "La Hora de Opinar", on Mexican Television. Author.

Dr Tomislav Lendo Fuentes 
General Director of Speechwriting, Office of the President of Mexico (2004-).  Formerly: General Director of Social Analysis, Office of the President of Mexico (2001-04).

Mr Jorge Máttar 
Director, Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) (2010- ). 

His Excellency Mr Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza 
Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom (2009-).  Formerly: Attorney-General (2006-09); Secretary of Public Security (2005-06); President, National Public Security Council 2005-06).

Professor Erika Ruiz Sandoval
Visiting Professor and Researcher, International Studies Division, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City (2009-).
Mr Alfredo Corchado 

Correspondent for The Dallas Morning News in Mexico.

Ambassador Adam Blackwell 

Secretary for Multidimensional Security, Organisation of American States (OAS), Washington DC.  Formerly: Secretary of External Relations, OAS.

Mr Mario López Roldán

Speech Writer and Adviser to the Secretary General, OECD, Paris (2007-).  Formerly: Director, EUROALLIANCE, Madrid; Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs, Embassy of Mexico to France.

Dr Anna Ayuso 

Research Fellow on Latin America, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB); Associate Professor on Latin American Studies, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) (2008-) among others.

Dr Carlos Malamud 
Senior Analyst, Latin America, Real Instituto Elcano; Professor of Latin American History, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid. 

Mr Iván Rebolledo 

Managing Partner, TerraNova Strategic Partners LLC, New York; President, Board of Directors, Bolivian-American Chamber of Commerce; Chair, Board of Directors, Global Goods Partners (New York).

Mr Nicholas Armour 

Director, International Group, UK Trade & Investment, London. 

Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes DL
Director General, Canning House, London (2010-). 

Mr Angus Lapsley 
HM Diplomatic Service; Director Americas, Foreign and Commonwealth Office     (2010-).  Formerly: Counsellor, CFSP/ESDP/Enlargement, UK Permanent Representation to the EU, Brussels.

Her Excellency Mrs Judith Macgregor LVO 
HM Diplomatic Service (1976-); HM Ambassador to Mexico (2009-).  Formerly: Director, Migration, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), London (2007-09).

Mr Michael Reid 
Americas Editor, The Economist (1999-).  Formerly: Bureau Chief, Sao Paulo (1996-99), Consumer Industries Correspondent (1994-96), Mexico and Central America Correspondent (1990-94).

Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO 
Formerly: Director, Policy Foresight Programme, Oxford Martin School (formerly James Martin 21st Century School), University of Oxford (2006-10); British Ambassador to Mexico (1981-83). Author.  A Governor and a Member of the Council of Management, The Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Laurence Whitehead 
Official Fellow in Politics and Senior Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford. Formerly: Acting Warden, Nuffield College (2005-06).  Author.

The Hon David T Johnson 

Formerly: United States Foreign Service (1977-2011); Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US Department of State (2007-11).

Mr Rhett Larson
MSc Candidate in Water Science, Policy, and Management, University of Oxford; Attorney specializing in international environmental law, water rights, and water quality, and pro bono work in immigration and refugee law.

Dr Shannon O'Neil 
Douglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.  Formerly: Director, Independent Task Force on US Policy Toward Latin America, Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor Philip Oxhorn 
Founding Director, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University, Montreal; Editor in Chief, Latin American Research Review.

Mr James Taylor
Founding Partner, Vianovo Ventures, Austin, Texas; Advisory Board Member, Woodrow Wilson Center Mexico Institute; Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Board Member, Mexican American Leadership Foundation.

Dr Diana Villiers Negroponte 
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution; Advisor to the Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Studies; Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Author.