Beyond the Border

Introducing "Beyond the Border": Stephanie Leutert on Cartel and Gang Violence in Mexico and Central America

By Robert Chesney
Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 12:21 PM

On behalf of both Lawfare and the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin, I’m very happy to announce the launch of a new series—“Beyond the Border”—that will focus on the complex array of security challenges that have wracked Mexico in recent years (with occasional coverage of similar challenges in Central America as well). The principal author of Beyond the Border will be Stephanie Leutert, who is the inaugural Mexico Security Initiative (MSI) Fellow at the Strauss Center (and also a veteran contributor to Lawfare; see here for her “Kyiv Dispatches” from 2015). MSI is the newest Strauss Center program at UT-Austin, building on the university’s strong tradition of Mexico Studies and also reflecting my own personal interest in the topic. There are many exciting aspects to the MSI program (for example, it includes an innovative year-long class for public affairs grad students who will dive deep into the issues associated with cartel violence), but we are especially excited about partnering with Lawfare to shine a spotlight on Stephanie’s research and writing.

Stephanie spent the past four years researching and working on issues related to Mexican security and economic development and U.S. foreign policy toward Mexico. This past summer, she conducted research as a Coca Cola World Fund Fellow, where she visited four Mexican states to research the development of Mexico's automotive industry. Previously, she worked for three years as a Research Associate in the Latin America program at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she focused on emerging security, immigration, economic, and energy issues in the region, with a particular focus on Mexico. In this capacity, she was the researcher for the CFR Task Force on North America, which, among other topics, focused on bilateral and trilateral security cooperation. 

Stephanie has also conducted field research on war torture in northern Uganda, Ecuador's refugee policy, and Mexico's aerospace industry. She has previously written for Lawfare on Obama's deportation policy and provided a series of dispatches from Ukraine while working as a legislative assistant in that country's parliament. She has an MA from Yale University and a BA from Skidmore College.

Stay tuned, and be sure to spread the word to others who may have an interest in Mexico’s national security challenges.