Uribe maintains the confidence of a vast majority of Colombians. In 2002 he released the Democratic Security Policy and his administration, with the support of the Colombian military and police force, focused on strengthening democratic institutions. By 2004, they had re-established a government presence in every one of the country’s municipalities. By 2007, Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena had murder rates lower than those of Washington, D.C., or Rio de Janeiro. Between 2002 and 2007, Colombia saw a decrease of 37 percent in homicides, 78 percent in kidnappings, 63 percent in terrorist attacks, and 60 percent in attacks on the country’s infrastructure.Of course, 2007 isn't the most recent year for which we have murder data for Medellín. In 2009, almost 3,000 people were killed in Medellín, which makes it significantly more violent than any city in the United States. I don't want to dismiss Uribe's achievements out of hand, but they did have a cost, which goes unmentioned here, and, more to the point, they weren't all necessarily enduring.
Author Don Chipman also writes:
Why, then, are we not more concerned by the situation south of the border in Mexico, where all of these threats to our national security exist? The answer is that most Americans view the U.S.-Mexican border through the prism of the illegal-immigration issue, neglecting serious issues of drug trafficking, free trade, and national security.US attention to Mexico neglects drug trafficking as an issue? Wow, he must be reading different media than I. The Post, the WSJ, and the LA Times all have longstanding, titled series about security problems south of the border, with names like Mexico under Siege and Mexico at War. I'd estimate the ratio of security to immigration stories in the major American publications at maybe 5 to 1, if not higher. One frequent complaint from Mexicans is that the US already views its southern neighbor not as a country but as a security problem (though you do also hear the complaint that the US isn't doing enough to address the problem).
Other articles, such as the Foreign Affairs piece, make the same comparison more persuasively, but I've yet to read why Colombia is a better model for Mexico than, for instance, Italy (which did a more comprehensive job eliminating organized crime as a threat to state and reducing violence than did Colombia). Mexico and Colombia both have drug traffickers and both are Spanish-speaking, but Colombia has vast swaths of the country where the government isn't in control, it has a long-simmering civil war, and it has thousands of paramilitaries, among other hugely significant differences with Mexico. And Colombia, while treated as a miracle of success, remains on the whole far more unstable and dangerous than Mexico. No one knowledgeable would seriously argue that the US would be better off sharing a border with Colombia than with Mexico.
There are of course broad remedies which would benefit both Mexico and Colombia: stronger anti-corruption controls, judicial and penal reform, a more honest and professional police force, et cetera. The thing is, these are obvious improvements that would benefit any developing nation. Mexico shouldn't improve its police forces because it worked for Colombia; it should do so because effective police are better than ineffective police, wherever you might be. Turning such a banal observation into a comparison with Colombia makes writing an article easier, but it doesn't really give us any special insight into either nation.