The Dallas Morning News

No doubt about it, 2010 was not a good year for Mexico. After setting new records for cartel-related violence, it’s hard to imagine 2011 could be much worse. While reversing this trend will be extremely difficult, here are three things the Mexican and U.S. governments can do to help make this a better year for Mexico and, by extension, the United States.

De-politicize efforts to combat organized crime. Once every 20 years, presidential elections in both countries coincide, this time in 2012. 2011, then, becomes a pivotal political year as candidates seek to distinguish themselves in crowded primary fields. If history serves as prologue, candidates will undoubtedly question the binational partnership that emerged between Presidents Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush.

The leaders of major political parties in both countries need to view the serious threats posed by organized crime dispassionately and not as red meat to fire up their party base. Instead, Mexico’s political leaders should agree to a comprehensive national strategy for combating organized crime that can withstand the vicissitudes of the coming election cycle. Mexico needs to build on efforts to professionalize the federal police and expand these efforts to state and municipal forces. Additionally, it should step up efforts to reform the country’s judiciary. The U.S. should, likewise, continue bipartisan efforts to support these reforms.