Rebecca Bill Chavez is a non-resident senior fellow with the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program at the Inter-American Dialogue. She is also a Senior Advisor at the Center for Naval Analyses and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2013 through 2017. Prior to joining OSD Policy, she was Professor of Political Science with tenure at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Chavez received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Her research has focused on Western hemisphere security and on comparative politics, with an emphasis on security and defense, the rule of law, and democratization.
Noah Bierman, from the Los Angeles Times, travelled with Vice President Harris to the region and interviewed Rebecca Bill Chavez, non-resident senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, to assess the trip and the bigger questions it raises about the Biden administration’s strategy for reducing migration.
The upcoming trip of Vice President Kamala Harris to Mexico and Guatemala will focus on a wide range of challenges, including corruption, violence, organized crime, lack of economic development, investment, job opportunities, and climate change. Our experts discuss the issues that are likely to be raised during this trip, possible points of contention, concerns around the rule of law and regional security, and the current and expected migration trends from Central America, among other topics.
[The situation in the Northern Triangle] was difficult [during the Obama administration] but it is much more challenging now. Some of the challenges in the region are going to take a generation. But one positive outcome from Kamala Harris' trip would be a real commitment to Covid vaccines [for the region].
Until Mexico can build effective and honest law-enforcement institutions, it will rely on the military to tackle organized crime, risking further corruption. Bringing in the army was supposed to be a short-term fix. Every president has said we will work on police reform, but relying on the military takes away all urgency.