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Every four years, the National Intelligence Council gathers several U.S. intelligence organizations and publishes a report on global trends affecting the world’s future. The purpose of disseminating classified information is to prepare for potential scenarios and encourage an informed debate on the future’s risks and opportunities as well as to design strategies to face them.

The report’s latest edition, Global Trends: the paradox of progress (www.dni.gov, January 2017) describes how the dynamic nature of political power is pressuring international relations. The “progress paradox” refers to industrial and technological advances generating a world that is richer in opportunities while posing a danger for humanity.

Two years later, the world’s reality seems to confirm those predictions. Today there is:
- Urbanization, migration, and forced displacement caused by environmental, technological, and climatic changes.
- Incapacity – both for rich and poor countries, to consolidate progress in the last two decades, especially for the new middle class that managed to get out of poverty.
- Technological development that amplifies information on inequality, globalization, politics, and corruption, which accentuates social perceptions on exclusion and injustice that consequently generate violent mobilizations.
- Structural changes in economies that reinforce such perceptions, from the creation of wealth without generating employment to development limited by excessive debt. 
- Growing social unrest, overturned in favor of populist, nativist, or nationalist leaders.

Unfortunately, it would seem that we could already check off some of these points in our national context. In fact, Mexico appears in Eurasia Group’s annual global risk measurement index (www.eurasiagroup.net). In this resource - which includes issues such as advanced economies weakening power, U.S.-China relations, cyberwarfare, European populism, liberal order threats, Ukraine, Nigeria, and Brexit - the United States and Mexico stand out. The first due to the “chaotic” internal political scenario, polarization generated by Trump, and the constitutional crisis that could lead to his possible prosecution.

As for our country, López Obrador’s new concentration of power, his nationalist-oriented agenda, and the concurrent centralization of political decisions are scaring away international investors. If Mexico was previously in a lower political risk category compared to the rest of Latin America, “this year it will look more like its southern neighbors.”

We are experiencing the most unusual geopolitical environment in decades together with an unpredictable neighbor in a volatile economic context. It would be convenient to be certain and behave like adults in the room.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was originally published in El Heraldo de México.

About the Author

Verónica Ortiz-Ortega

Political Analyst, El Economista and Canal del Congreso
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more