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Laura Carlsen
Laura Carlsen is Director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus (

Entries by Laura Carlsen

Mercenaries in Yemen--the U.S. Connection

(2) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 7:50 PM

Latin American mercenaries are leaving the ranks of the national armies of their countries to fight in the deserts of Yemen, wearing the uniform of the United Arab Emirates. They have been contracted by private US companies and in some cases directly by the government of the Arab country, which,...

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Government Lies, Human Bonfires and the Search for Truth

(3) Comments | Posted September 24, 2015 | 2:12 PM

One Year Since the Crime of Ayotzinapa

"Tell us the truth about what you find, even though it hurts, make sure it's the truth"
-Families of the 43 Disappeared Students of Ayotzinapa to the Group of Experts

It was always too cut-and-dried to believe.

On Jan. 27, then-Attorney General...

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Leonhart's Fall Signals Urgent Need for DEA Overhaul

(37) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 5:41 PM

The forced resignation of DEA chief Michele Leonhart is a step in the right direction toward cleaning up one of the most wasteful and ethically questionable agencies of the federal government, the Drug Enforcement Administration. Now it's time for Congress to take the next step -- a full and facts-based...

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Obama Should Not Prop Up Mexico's President

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 11:11 AM

President Obama has nothing to gain -- and much to lose -- by propping up Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto will be in Washington today, seeking to bolster his support in the United States as it rapidly unravels in his own country.

Protests over the murder...

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Blowback on the Border: America's Child Refugee Crisis

(0) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 4:33 PM

After three years of relative silence, the U.S. press has finally "discovered" the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors piling up on the U.S. border. Although the coverage often began with moving stories of the hardships these young migrants faced, it soon turned ugly. For right-wing...

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Mexico's Oil Privatization: Risky Business

(1) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 5:30 PM

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has gone where no other Mexican president has dared to tread since the nation's wildly popular oil nationalization in 1938. Late last year, he pushed through an historic measure to re-privatize much of Mexico's energy sector.

The constitutional reforms to grant private companies rights to...

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New NSA Mexico Leaks Raise Questions on U.S. Security Programs

(1) Comments | Posted October 22, 2013 | 10:22 AM

The latest analysis of Edward Snowden's leaked documents by the German magazine Der Spiegel is a bombshell for Mexico.

"The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years," reads the opening line in the Oct. 20 issue.

The article goes on to detail three...

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Latin America Builds Momentum Against U.S.-Backed Drug War

(11) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 3:48 PM

One after another, Latin American leaders rose to the podium at the last UN General Assembly to take a stand against the United States' signature security policy in the hemisphere -- the war on drugs.

"Right here, in this same headquarters, 52 years ago, the convention that gave birth to...

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Brazilians' Demands: From Lower Bus Fares to a Fair Society

(4) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 12:53 PM

With a million people demonstrating in the streets of cities throughout Brazil, everyone's scrambling to understand how a 20-cent bus fare hike turned into a social revolt.

Government officials are the most surprised. President Dilma Rousseff hastily cancelled a long-planned trip to Japan and has called an emergency meeting of...

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With Immigration Reform Looming, Private Prisons Lobby to Keep Migrants Behind Bars (Updated)

(9) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 11:43 AM

As the immigration reform debate heats up, an important argument has been surprisingly missing. By granting legal status to immigrants and ordering future flows, the government could save billions of dollars. A shift to focus border security on real crime, both local and cross-border, would increase public safety and render...

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Can Obama's Gun Control Plan Reduce Violence in Mexico?

(32) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 5:00 PM

President Obama's moving speech to unveil his gun control plan opens up the possibility of devising -- finally -- more sane and healthy policies on limiting the destructive capacity of dangerous individuals. That's good news for U.S. communities.

Another consequence of fixing gun laws has hardly been mentioned though --...

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Killing Spree on the Border

(1) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 9:04 AM

His name was José Antonio Elena Rodriguez. At 16, he was just finishing junior high and living with his grandmother on the Mexican side of the border city of Nogales.

On October 13, 2012, José Antonio was hit by a hail of bullets coming from the U.S. side...

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Killing the Messenger: Attacks Rise on Women Human Rights Defenders

(1) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 1:20 PM

Juventina Villa knew her days were numbered. A leader of an environmental organization in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, she and other activists have been in the crosshairs of organized crime and government forces for years. Her husband and two nephews were murdered this year.

On Nov. 28, one day...

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Obama Must Rewrite His Foreign Policy Legacy

(13) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 5:33 PM

With a more than comfortable margin of 332 to 206 electoral votes, President Barack Obama held onto office on Election Day. Now the big question for foreign policy is whether Legacy Obama will be a bolder advocate for peace than the disappointing Campaign Obama.

The president will need to recast...

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Heart-to-Heart on the Drug War

(2) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 11:56 AM

Margarita Lopez begins to speak about the horrible events that marked the end of her daughter's life in a low, even tone. Some 40 women in a plush Washington, D.C. meeting room listen silently as tears roll down their cheeks.

Lopez narrates how her 19-year-old daughter, Jahaira Guadalupe...

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It's Time to Abandon Nixon's War on Drugs

(10) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 8:29 AM

It potentially affects half the U.S. population, men and women whose lives could be disrupted forever from one day to the next. It costs billions of dollars, at a time when schools are closing down and essential public services disappearing. It deepens the nation's racial divide and tears families apart....

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Mexico's Real Movement for Democracy

(11) Comments | Posted August 7, 2012 | 4:14 PM

"We are the children of the ideals you couldn't kill."

A young woman carried the hand-lettered sign as she marched with tens of thousands of people in Mexico City last July 22. Twenty-something, with long black hair and jeans, her message captures the spirit and sense of history...

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US Hand in Honduran Massacre

(21) Comments | Posted June 26, 2012 | 5:44 PM

Hilda Lezama was taking passengers back upriver to the township of Ahuas after a fishing expedition in a remote area of the Mosquito Coast in Honduras. In the pre-dawn darkness, she could hear the helicopters buzzing overhead, but she thought nothing of it at first.

Suddenly, bullets shot from

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50 Percent of the 99 Percent

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2012 | 5:34 PM

What's 50 percent of 99 percent?

Hint: This isn't a math quiz. To put the question in non-numerical terms: Where are women in the global economic crisis?

The movement of the 99 percent that began in the United States made visible the human beings who suffer the brutal inequality and...

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Honduras: When Engagement Becomes Complicity

(2) Comments | Posted March 26, 2012 | 1:16 PM

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Honduras on March 6 with a double mission: to quell talk of drug legalization and reinforce the U.S.-sponsored drug war in Central America, and to bolster the presidency of Porfirio Lobo.

The Honduran government issued a statement that during the one-hour closed-door conversation...

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