Americans studying in Latin America have stopped looking so intently at Mexico, which has dropped from first to fourth for U.S. students going abroad in the region in 10 years. Only about 4,000 U.S. students study in Mexico, with crime and drug violence being the main deterrent. More American students go to Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil today than Mexico.
The U.S. government wants to boost that number to 100,000, one reason for coinciding visits Wednesday by both Secretary of State John Kerry and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who heads the 10-campus University of California system.
Kerry will announce the new exchange goals to launch a bilateral forum for higher education, innovation and research. President Barack Obama’s new higher education exchange initiative aims to have 100,000 students from each country. A similar program in Mexico, Proyecta, has the goal of sending 100,000 Mexican students a year to the U.S. by 2018. Little more than 14,000 Mexicans study there today.
Mexico was once the top location for U.S. students studying in Latin America, with so many economic and familial ties between the two neighbors. But the numbers dropped with the spike in drug violence, especially during the stepped-up attacks on cartels by the administration of President Felipe Calderon, who left office in 2012. He served at the same time Napolitano was in charge of homeland security for the United States, which openly supported Calderon’s strategy. <Read more.>