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Mexico Center “Puentes” Initiative Will Ignite Collaboration between UT Austin and Mexico

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Olmec head dusk in front of the Latin American Studies exhibit.

AUSTIN, Texas — Mexico scholars at The University of Texas at Austin will come together with Mexican colleagues at the inaugural Puentes Summit on Security and Governance this coming Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 11 and 12.

Puentes is a new yearly summit to foster collaboration between UT Austin scholars and their Mexican counterparts, who will gather to address problems relevant to Mexico and the United States. According to Professor Ricardo Ainslie, director of the LLILAS Benson Mexico Center, the summit will constitute an “innovative approach to in-depth collaboration on UT–Mexico topics. The topics will vary from year to year, drawing on the talent and expertise of the university faculty.”

An initiative of the Mexico Center, the summit is funded by UT alumni Fernando Macías and Adriana Pacheco Roldán, chair of the International Board of Advisors to UT President Gregory L. Fenves.

Consisting of closed-door sessions and a public forum, the 2019 summit will focus on critical issues facing the new administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and assess its preliminary policies on security, justice and social policy. López Obrador (known as AMLO) arrived in office in December 2018 “amid outsized expectations that his presidency would bring sweeping change in favor of economically and socially marginalized Mexicans, including the millions affected by insecurity and human rights abuses,” Ainslie said. “Yet the deep-rooted nature of violence in the country, along with Mexico’s institutional deficiencies, has generated questions regarding the government’s ability to bring about meaningful change.”

Mexican participants in this year’s summit include Pablo Vázquez, director-general of Crime Prevention and Community Services, Office of the Attorney General of Mexico, and Alejandro Ponce, chief research officer, World Justice Project, as well as former public servants, experts who work in NGOs, and academics. In addition to Ainslie, campus hosts for the event include Professor Kenneth Greene (Government) and Jake Dizard (Strauss Center).

The inaugural summit will include the free public forum “Mexico’s Human Rights and Governance Challenges in the AMLO Era” on Tuesday, Feb. 12, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Benson Latin American Collection second-floor conference room. The forum is co-sponsored by the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law. View event details here.