Dawn Paley: Once we can start to make the connections between US-backed war agendas in the form of Plan Colombia or the Merida Initiative and the expansion of capitalism in Mexico and Colombia, a lot of things begin to make sense. In the immediate term, the militarization and the paramilitarization stemming from these plans to sow terror and strengthen the state repressive apparatus, which, as we are well aware, works to protect transnational capital, like mining companies or oil companies. Over the longer term, the structural reforms that go hand in hand with Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative deepen neoliberalism. With the privatization of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state oil company, for example, 70 percent of Mexico’s federal budget is at stake, something I argue could lead to a previously unknown level of austerity in Mexico. Already financially starved sectors like health and public education could be impacted, as could existing subsidies for transportation, basic goods and otherwise. As the privatization of Pemex kicks in and the effects begin to be felt over the next decade, should people rise up in protest, the fact that police and military forces as well as nominally non-state armed actors were strengthened through the Merida Initiative will certainly come in handy in order to control dissent. More here.