2024 - Articles

Article & Interview: Three Questions on Mexico's Election Results

Mexico made history on June 2, 2024, when it elected its first female president, Claudia Sheinbaum. These elections were the largest in Mexico’s history, with representatives for more than 20,000 public office positions at the congressional and local levels chosen, according to the AP. Election results are likely to be finalized later this week, but Sheinbaum was declared the winner of the presidential election based on a very high margin of victory in preliminary results reported late on June 2

Article: A former US ambassador sees high stakes in Mexico's elections

On June 2, Mexicans will choose a new president, a new congress and many thousands of state and local officials in Mexico’s largest elections ever.

At present, polls show a large advantage to Claudia Sheinbaum, the presidential candidate supported by incumbent President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), over her principal rival, Xóchitl Gálvez, who heads the opposition coalition ticket in Mexico’s presidential elections.

Beyond the presidential race, the outcomes in congressional and state e

Article: Important Things Happening in Mexico Deserve Close US Attention

On June 2, Mexicans will choose a new president, a new congress, and many thousands of state and local officials in Mexico’s largest election ever.

At present, polls show a large advantage to Claudia Sheinbaum, the presidential candidate supported by incumbent President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), over her principle rival, Xochitl Galvez, who heads the opposition coalition ticket.

Beyond the presidential race, the outcomes in congressional and state elections will have big implications ...

New Insights from the Public Diplomacy Laboratory, Public Diplomacy Council of America

by Joe B. Johnson

When I was a college senior, I would have jumped at the chance to advise the Department of State on its public communication. Now, Anthony Wayne, a PDCA member and Diplomat in Residence at American University’s School of International Service, has enabled some of his students to do just that as part of State’s Diplomacy Lab.

Diplomacy Lab, launched by State in 2013, is a public-private partnership with more than sixty U.S. colleges and universities to sponsor research around various Department-identified topics. It is part of the Office of Global Partnerships, where State engages with outside entities in many ways.

Influencers and public diplomacy …

When Amb. Wayne put me in touch with his six seniors at SIS as one source for their project, I was skeptical. Their topic focused on the use of "Influencers" as part of U.S. public diplomacy. Their client was the Global Public Affairs Bureau (GPA). This area, which has not been spelled out in Department manuals, is much discussed by practitioners who seek to project policy messages through independent voices. I asked myself:

• What are the ethical guardrails that separate legitimate local partnerships from deceptive “sock puppetry"?
• Is this topic too difficult for college seniors with limited practical experience?

The team interviewed a number of sources including PDCA members and some of my former colleagues on the Foreign Service Institute’s training staff. More importantly, they conducted extensive desk research, which shows in their comprehensive report.

The report begins with a general survey of PD, citing 63 sources in a literature review. The team endorses a comprehensive approach incorporating messaging with cultural programs and other PD elements. It upholds transparency and two-way communication. And it describes the alignment of messages, goals and audiences that characterizes effective programs.

After reviewing 2,849 media releases to ascertain themes (security, economic policies and social justice) reflecting the Department’s most important priorities and to identify milestone events, the team went online to find the most effective influencers for specific topics and events, and even provided pitches to propose partnerships. They did the same for specific taskings by GPA like the NATO Summit and migration and refugees. Their descriptions of potential partners with large online followings makes for a fascinating read.

Article: As Mexico’s democracy shows decline, the US must pay attention to its upcoming election

On June 2, Mexicans will choose a new president, a new Congress, and thousands of state and local officials. The outcomes and the aftermath will have major implications for the United States as well as for Mexico. The U.S. must pay close attention.

The U.S. relationship with Mexico touches the daily lives of more Americans than any other country in the world. Mexico is the U.S.’s largest trade and co-production partner. It is the pathway for most irregular migration and the largest single sourc

Diplomacy Lab Presentation: How to Measure Effective Border Security: A Focus on Metrics and Recommendations for Addressing Illicit Arms and Technology Transfers

This presentation was provided to by a team of six American University seniors to describe their work and conclusions as part of a project undertaken under the Department of State's Diplomacy Lab program during the spring semester of 2024. The student team represented the School of International Service and was mentored by Professor Earl Anthony Wayne. The final written report is posted separately.

Diplomacy Lab Report: How to Measure Effective Border Security: A Focus on Metrics and Recommendations for Addressing Illicit Arms and Technology Transfers

This report was prepared as part of the Department of State's Diplomacy Lab program. It looks at ways to measure and achieve effective border security with attention to addressing illicit arms and technology transfers. The report identifies best practices from a range of countries and organizations and offers findings and recommendations. A team of seniors at American University's School of International Service prepared the report under the mentorship of Professor Earl Anthony Wayne.

Diplomacy Lab Report: Caught in the Crossfire: Identifying Data on US Firearms and Crime in the Western Hemisphere

This report was prepared as part of the State Department's Diplomacy Lab program in the Spring semester 2024. It examines the illicit and licit flows of arms to selected countries in the Western Hemisphere countries and the relationship to crime data in recepient countries. The report seeks to draw conclusions from the data and research available. It discusses significant gaps in the data currently available and makes recommendations for reducing those information gaps in order to better assess and respond to the problems flowing from these arms flows. The report was prepared by a team of students at American University's School of International Service under the mentorship of Professor Earl Anthony Wayne.

Diplomacy Lab Report: Partnerships, Policy, and Public Diplomacy: A Deep Dive into Influencer Diplomacy

This Diplomacy Lab Report explores the use of influencers as a part of Public Diplomacy efforts by the United States and others and provides recommendations of specific events and influencers for potential use by the U. S. Department of State. It was completed in the spring semester of 2024 by a team of seniors at American University's School of International Service under the mentorship of Professor Earl Anthony Wayne.

Diplomacy Lab Presentation: Lost in the Crossfire: Identifying Data on U.S. Firearms and Crime in the Western Hemisphere

This is the powerpoint presentation for a Diplomacy Lab report on the illicit and licit flows of arms from the US to select Latin American countries prepared for the Department of State in the Spring semester, 2024 by American University students under the mentorship of Professor Earl Anthony Wayne. It examines the flows of licii and illicit arms to selected Western Hemisphere countries and the challenges in understanding the magnitude and impact of those flows.

Article: Strengthening USMCA and North America's economic cooperation

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will reach its fourth anniversary in 2024 just as Mexico elects a new president-a few months before the United States does the same. While an election in Canada could happen at any time, it is most likely to occur in 2025, still ahead of the review agreed for USMCA in 2026.

Building on its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), USMCA has unquestionably become a foundation for North American trade and investment. USMCA has helped fuel robust trade growth following the shocks of a global pandemic and provides a powerful vehicle for further growth if used well, as recommended in this piece.

USMCA members have several big issues that they have yet to resolve under the agreement’s dispute resolution processes, and the outcomes will either reinforce or undermine USMCA’s credibility and its ability to continue to deliver for the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

For now, we only have a preliminary assessment of USMCA’s novel features, such as the digital trade chapter and the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RLM) after a few years of implementation, nor have the three countries really taken up the regulatory action agenda embedded in USMCA (Chapters 12 and 28).

USMCA implementation is broadly off to a good start. However, achieving the agreement´s full potential depends on three additional factors:

Gaining traction on USMCA’s cooperation chapters in areas such as Small- and Medium- Sized Enterprises, Competitiveness, Good Regulatory Practices, and Temporary Entry for Business Persons;
Developing the potential of USMCA’s Competitiveness Committee; and Leveraging other parallel bilateral and trilateral mechanisms such as the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS), the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), and the 21st Century Border Management Initiative.
This chapter analyzes these topics, provides a general assessment of the current state of play, and offers recommendations for further actions.

Canada Institute Experts Reflect on the Legacy of Brian Mulroney

On February 29, 2024, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney passed away at the age of 84. During his tenure at the helm of Canada's government, Mulroney advanced trade and environmental policies that are still impacting the Canada-US relationship forty years on. Among the many accolades he received in his career, Mulroney was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2003. In this collection, Canada Institute experts reflect on his extensive legacy.

Article: Mexico’s Proposed Constitutional Reforms Need Careful Scrutiny in the Mexico and the US

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has proposed 20 constitutional and legal reforms in an apparent effort to boost his chosen successor, Claudia Sheinbaum, and his Morena party for Mexico’s June 2 national elections.

The proposals would protect and advance several AMLO favored initiatives by incorporating them in the constitution. Many of the suggested reforms would concentrate more power in Mexico’s executive at the expense of independent authorities working on electoral, economic, judicial, and other important issues. On February 18, tens of thousands in Mexico met in protest citing several of the proposed reforms as threatening for Mexico’s democracy. ...

From a good governance perspective, AMLO’s propositions would eliminate key autonomous regulatory bodies including those covering competition, telecommunications, and energy. These reforms would have direct and indirect impact on the implementation of the North American trade agreement, USMCA, and on US companies doing business in Mexico. ...

How Will Proposed Reforms Shape Mexico's Politics?

“President López Obrador’s 20 proposed reforms appear aimed at boosting his chosen successor, Claudia Sheinbaum, and his Morena party in Mexico’s June 2 election. They would protect and advance AMLO initiatives, concentrating more power in Mexico’s president, reducing checks and balances in its democracy, introducing elections for judges and bolstering the military’s public security role. AMLO’s presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, is 15-20 percent ahead in the polls, but AMLO wants his allies to win the two-thirds legislative majority to approve his recommended constitutional amendments. AMLO’s proposals seem aimed at keeping him in the limelight during the campaign season; they appear designed to knock the opposition off balance with proposals appealing to poorer Mexicans, including new salary and retirement benefits. Several propositions could well weaken Mexico’s electoral, legislative and administrative institutions, give the government more concentrated economic power regarding energy and regulation, and impose costly programs on his successors. From a U.S. perspective, some proposals threaten commitments made in the USMCA trade agreement and could harm U.S. businesses working in Mexico. Mexico is the United States’ largest trading partner and depends heavily on the American market, but AMLO’s proposed reforms would weaken regulatory institutions important for good USMCA implementation. AMLO also proposes to constitutionally ban genetically modified corn, despite major U.S. GMO corn exports to Mexico and a pending U.S. trade complaint. Strategically, the United States seeks a strong democratic Mexico to partner in building a more competitive and prosperous North America, but several of AMLO’s proposed changes send flashing red warnings.”

Article: How Will Proposed Reforms Shape Mexico’s Politics?

President López Obrador’s 20 proposed reforms
appear aimed at boosting his chosen successor, Claudia Sheinbaum, and his Morena
party in Mexico’s June 2 election. They
would protect and advance AMLO initiatives,
concentrating more power in Mexico’s president, reducing checks and balances in its
democracy, introducing elections for judges
and bolstering the military’s public security
role. AMLO’s presidential candidate, Claudia
Sheinbaum, is 15-20 percent ahead in the
polls, but AMLO wants his allies to win the
two-thirds legislative majority to approve his
recommended constitutional amendments.
AMLO’s proposals seem aimed at keeping
him in the limelight during the campaign
season; they appear designed to knock
the opposition off balance with proposals
appealing to poorer Mexicans, including
new salary and retirement benefits. Several
propositions could well weaken Mexico’s
electoral, legislative and administrative
institutions, give the government more concentrated economic power regarding energy
and regulation, and impose costly programs
on his successors. From a U.S. perspective,
some proposals threaten commitments
made in the USMCA trade agreement and
could harm U.S. businesses working in
Mexico. Mexico is the United States’ largest
trading partner and depends heavily on the
American market, but AMLO’s proposed reforms would weaken regulatory institutions
important for good USMCA implementation.
AMLO also proposes to constitutionally ban
genetically modified corn, despite major U.S.
GMO corn exports to Mexico and a pending
U.S. trade complaint. Strategically, the United States seeks a strong democratic Mexico
to partner in building a more competitive and
prosperous North America, but several of
AMLO’s proposed changes send flashing red
warnings.”
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