Transnational crime poses a significant threat to democratic governance in the Americas. Yet, despite the manifest importance of the phenomenon, its implications are poorly understood. There has been little systematic effort to fathom the full dimensions of transnational crime in the hemisphere—its effects not only on governmental institutions, but also on the rule of law, social conditions, and economic performance. To the extent policy prescriptions have been put forward, they have tended to be sweeping and lacking in a careful analysis of concrete situations and the availability of resources—financial, human, and institutional.
This volume seeks to fill that void, and to serve as a valued source of information and analysis on transnational crime in the Americas. Tom Farer, dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, came to the Inter-American Dialogue with the idea for the project a few years ago. Farer, who had successfully directed a previous Dialogue project on changing notions of sovereignty in the Americas, was particularly well equipped for this challenging enterprise. Known for his rare mix of imagination and rigor, and his impressive versatility, Farer skillfully conceptualized the effort and worked closely with the Dialogue to identify and assemble a high-quality group of policy analysts from Latin America, the United States, and Europe. His direction was superb.
Farer reviewed and commented on all of the chapters, which in most cases went through a number of drafts. The contributions also benefited substantially from an intensive, two-day workshop in July 1997 in San José, Costa Rica, which brought together all of the authors and a diverse group of first-rate