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Criminal violence remained rampant, govt faced more backlash for high number of disappearances, and ruling party healed split ahead of 2024 presidential election.
Criminal violence persisted at high levels. Authorities 13 Nov found Jesús Ociel Baena, second openly non-binary person to occupy magistrate position in Mexico, and partner dead at home; state attorney ruled incident murder-suicide but Ociel had received threats before, prompting rights groups, U.S. and Inter-American Court of Human Rights to call for full investigation. Meanwhile, security forces 3 Nov killed four members of alleged criminal group in Celaya city, Guanajuato state (centre), while another clash 11 Nov left three police officers and three suspected crime group members dead in Zacatecas city, Zacatecas state (centre). Armed assailants 19-22 Nov abducted three journalists and two relatives in Taxco, Guerrero state (south west). Armed men 28 Nov shot at four journalists returning from murder scene in Chilpancingo city, Guerrero state (south), injuring three; another journalist same day was also shot and injured in Michoacan state. Gunmen 21 Nov killed prominent activist documenting murders in León city, Guanajuato. Security forces 22 Nov captured alleged security chief for Sinaloa cartel faction in Culiacan, Sinaloa state (west).
Govt continued to face criticism for high number of disappearances. Former head of National Search Commission Karla Quintana 7 Nov accused govt of attempting to deflate official number of missing persons from 113,000 by using data from bodies other than official Search Commission; President López Obrador 13 Nov accused Quintana of manipulating data to discredit govt.
Ruling MORENA party presidential candidate and former FM reached agreement. Former FM Ebrard, who came second to Claudia Sheinbaum in internal MORENA vote to select presidential candidate, 13 Nov announced he would not leave party or run as independent in 2024 polls after “political agreement” with Sheinbaum.
In other important developments. Opposition forces and some MORENA members 7 Nov criticised govt over lack of budget allocation for areas affected by Hurricane Otis, which caused $16bn worth of damage. Caravan of hundreds of migrants 5 Nov left Tapachula city, Chiapas state (south) on journey toward U.S. border.
Criminal violence remained rampant, govt and security forces faced more backlash for high number of disappearances, and Hurricane Otis wrought destruction in Acapulco city.
Criminal violence, some of it politically motivated, remained high. Bodies of two pollsters from ruling MORENA party were found dead in Tabasco state 1 Oct, alongside message from Jalisco Cartel accusing MORENA and army of protecting rival Sinaloa Cartel in Chiapas. Guerrero state (south west) witnessed several high-profile attacks. Notably, unidentified gunmen 17 Oct killed prominent self-defence group leader Bruno Plácido and his driver in state capital Chilpancingo; and armed men 18 Oct attacked priest and victims’ rights activist Filiberto Velázquez in Tixtla town. Attacks came after 1,500 members of 66 communities from San Miguel Totolapan and Heliodoro Castillo municipalities 3 Oct announced creation of armed self-defence group amid state inertia. Three separate attacks in Coyuca de Benitez municipality (Guerrero), Tacámbaro town (Michoacán state) and San Miguel Cano (Puebla state) 23 Oct left at least 24 dead, including 13 police officers.
State faced more criticism for high number of disappearances. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 3 Oct lamented “alarming” number of disappearances in Mexico and “almost absolute impunity”. Group of experts investigating 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college 17 Oct released documents allegedly showing military had knowledge of crime as it unfolded; govt continued to deny military’s involvement or collusion. Meanwhile, search collective 2 Oct said clandestine burial site found in Tacámbaro likely contains more than the 51 bodies already found, largest identified in state in recent years; another collective 15 Oct reported discovery of clandestine human incineration site containing human remains in Tlaquepaque city, Jalisco state (centre).
In other important developments. Govt and U.S. officials 5 Oct held high-level security talks in Mexico City about fentanyl trafficking, migration and arms trafficking, and agreed to collaborate closely. Acapulco city (along Pacific Coast) was among areas worst hit by Hurricane Otis late Oct, raising fears that organised crime could capitalise on destruction and insufficient govt response to strengthen foothold in area.
Criminal violence remained rampant, political parties announced presidential candidates in upcoming election, and authorities spotlighted uptick in migration.
Violence continued at high levels. In Guerrero state (south), armed men purportedly belonging to La Familia Michoacana criminal group 9 Sept shot dead state attorney Víctor Manuel Salas Cuadra in Coyuca de Catalán city; unknown assailants 12 Sept shot dead federal attorney’s office representative Fernando García Fernández in state capital Chilpancingo. In Tamaulipas state (centre), navy troops 4 Sept killed four alleged aggressors in Matamoros city; four civilians also injured. In Sinaloa state (centre), clashes 8 Sep between criminal groups killed five in El Rosario town. Govt 25 Sept sent 1,500 troops to Frontera Comalapa region of Chiapas state (south) following media reports of fighting between Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels. Meanwhile, govt 15 Sept extradited Ovidio Guzmán, son and principal heir of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán, to U.S. on organised crime and fentanyl trafficking charges.
Parties selected female candidates for 2024 presidential election. Ruling MORENA party 6 Sept announced former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum as party’s candidate for poll. Former FM Ebrard, who came second in internal vote, raised concerns over irregularities and asked for re-run; President López Obrador next day backed Sheinbaum’s candidacy. With opposition block Frente Amplio por México late Aug announcing Xochitl Galvez as its candidate, 2024 race will mark first time two women compete for Mexico’s highest office.
Migration flows increased. Migratory authority 14 Sept said it expected to receive record 150,000 asylum claims during 2023, noting uptick in arrivals during Aug and Sept, particularly from Cuba, Haiti and Honduras. Authorities same day found 350 Central American migrants in trailer suffering from oxygen shortage in Veracruz state (east). International Organization of Migration 12 Sept announced 686 deaths in 2022 by persons trying to cross Mexico-U.S. border, making it most lethal land migration route worldwide.
Criminal violence continued at high levels amid rising discontent over govt handling of disappearances; tensions with U.S. simmered over fentanyl crisis.
Growing number of disappearances raised concerns. Though National Institute of Statistics and Geography report late July said 2022 marked lowest homicide rate in Mexico since 2017, rising number of disappearances underscored persistently high levels of insecurity. Notably, five youths 11 Aug disappeared from Lagos de Moreno city in Jalisco state (centre). Four days later, video surfaced in media allegedly showing victims being forced to kill one another; video reportedly attributed to MZ faction of Sinaloa Cartel, which is in competition with Jalisco Cartel New Generation for control of drug trafficking and fuel theft in area. Case triggered alarm, with opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez 16 Aug announcing suspension of campaign activities for 24 hours. Head of National Search Commission 23 Aug resigned amid growing frustration with govt’s handling of disappearances, further underscored by late July decision of independent investigators to end probe into 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa college due to lack of collaboration from authorities. Some 200 protesters 30 Aug took to streets in Mexico City to mark International Day of the Disappeared, chanting “Where are our children” and calling for more concerted govt efforts to locate missing persons.
Attacks on state forces and civilians continued. Coahuila’s Prosecutor’s Office 1 Aug announced detention of “criminal leader” who could be responsible for series of late July attacks on police checkpoints in Coahuila state (north). Army 22 Aug said cartels are increasingly deploying roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with 42 soldiers, police and suspects wounded by IEDs in 2023, up from 16 in 2022. Cartels in Michoacán state (centre) late Aug burnt trucks and shops and blocked roads, prompting govt 28 Aug to send 1,200 troops to quell uptick in violence.
Frictions with U.S. over fentanyl crisis simmered. Tensions between Mexico and U.S. over responsibility for fentanyl drug crisis continued to rise; U.S. officials blame Jalisco Cartel New Generation and Sinaloa Cartel for production and trafficking of fentanyl, while Mexican govt claim country is only transit route.
Criminal violence remained rampant, while President López Obrador’s attacks on opposition front runner in 2024 presidential poll prompted condemnation from electoral authorities.
Criminal groups stepped up attacks on state forces, increasingly using explosives. Gunmen 3 July shot at interior minister of Tamaulipas state (north) on main road, though official was unharmed. Criminal group Los Ardillos 10 July orchestrated thousands-strong protest in Chilpancingo city, Guerrero state (south west), over arrest of two of its members; protesters blocked main roads, forced their way into state legislature and took 13 police officers and officials hostage, released them following day. Several improvised explosive devices (IED) in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga city, Jalisco state (centre), 11 July killed four police officers and two civilians; Jalisco Cartel dominant in state has increasingly used IEDs in neighbouring Michoacán.
Attacks on journalists and disappearances continued. Police 8 July found body of Luis Martín Sánchez Iñiguez, local correspondent for La Jornada newspaper, in Huachines town, Nayarit state (west); unidentified armed group 15 July killed reporter Nelson Matus in Acapulco town, Guerrero. Meanwhile, civil society organisations from Caborca and Pitiquito municipalities reported 1-2 July clashes between Sinaloa Cartel and rival Caborca group resulted in at least 15 disappearances and three deaths; collective known as Madres Buscadoras, which searches for disappeared, 4 July said it had uncovered clandestine graves containing dozens of bodies in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga; another search collective 14-15 July found bodies in graves in Reynosa city, Tamaulipas; UN 27 July accused army of obstructing investigation into 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college.
López Obrador railed against key contender in 2024 presidential election. President López Obrador’s continued criticism of opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez in daily press conferences prompted National Electoral Institute 13 July to issue order prohibiting him from commenting on electoral matters. López Obrador next day accused electoral authorities of trying to “silence” him and reiterated claims he had gathered information about public contracts awarded to Gálvez, saying he would seek judicial investigation.
Criminal violence displaced thousands as rival groups vied for territory, authorities brought charges against soldiers accused of extrajudicial killing and ruling party began preparations for 2024 presidential poll.
Rampant insecurity displaced thousands. After 1,500 security forces late May deployed to Chiapas state (south) amid fighting between groups associated with Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, National Guard 1 June said situation was under control; activists, however, continued to warn that Chiapas is on brink of civil war as hostilities displaced hundreds. In Michoacán state (west), fighting from 9 June onward between Jalisco and Knights Templar criminal groups over territory in Apatzingán municipality displaced at least 1,000; gunmen 29 June killed former self- defence group leader Hipólita Mora in La Ruana town, with reports Jalisco cartel may be responsible. In Sinaloa state (west), supposed Sinaloa cartel members 11 June killed two soldiers during confrontation in Culiacán municipality. Insecurity expected to escalate as 2024 elections edge closer.
Soldiers accused of extrajudicial killing in Tamaulipas. Ministry of Defence 10 June announced charges against 16 soldiers after media outlets 6 June released video showing soldiers apparently extrajudicially killing five alleged unarmed gang members in Nuevo Laredo city, Tamaulipas state (north) in May. López Obrador 7 June said “apparent execution” and other such cases would no longer go unpunished under his govt. Govt 26 June announced arrest of former head of federal anti- kidnapping unit over 2014 disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college.
Election preparations heated up. Ruling MORENA party 11 June approved rules for process to select candidate for June 2024 presidential election. Six candidates have registered for participation and left their current posts for campaign 19 June-16 Aug; vote will take place 28 Aug-3 Sept. In what many considered test ahead of presidential poll, MORENA’s candidate 4 June won governorship of State of Mexico (centre), which opposition PRI had controlled for 94 years; PRI defeated MORENA in Coahuila state (north). Meanwhile, Supreme Court 22 June overturned key part of MORENA’s sweeping electoral bill.
Supreme Court struck down parts of govt electoral reform, criminal violence continued, and U.S. ended pandemic-era border policy.
Court invalidated parts of govt electoral reform. Supreme Court 8 May declared unconstitutional parts of govt’s Plan B electoral reform that, among other things, would reduce budget and power of country’s election authority; court said ruling Morena party had pushed plan through without due legislative process, such as proper debate. President López Obrador afterward accused court of undermining separation of powers and of serving elite interests, 17 May called for judges to be appointed by popular vote. Meanwhile, media outlet Latinus 2 May claimed associates of López Obrador’s sons had received public contracts worth $20mn and positions within federal institutions without fulfilling legal requirements; López Obrador 4 May denied allegations.
Criminal violence continued. In central-eastern Hidalgo state, unknown assailants 14 May killed six in Atotonilco de Tula municipality, area contested by rival criminal groups; in central-eastern Puebla state, unknown gunmen 23 May shot dead journalist Marco Aurelio Ramírez in Tehuacán municipality. In central San Luis Potosí state, presumed Gulf Cartel members 15 May kidnapped 50 migrants near Matehuala city and demanded ransom. In north-eastern Tamaulipas state, shootout between Gulf Cartel and opposing groups, including Jalisco cartel, 15-16 May left at least 19 dead in Méndez municipality. Also in Tamaulipas, shootout between security forces and members of local criminal group 29 May left ten dead on road connecting Nuevo León and Laredo cities. In north-western Sinaloa state, security forces 13 May arrested Héctor Elías Flores Aceves, Sinaloa cartel’s lieutenant in Quintana Roo state, in Guamúchil municipality.
U.S. ended controversial pandemic-era border policy. U.S. 11 May ended Trump-era Title 42 provision that allowed U.S. authorities to turn away undocumented migrants at U.S.-Mexico border by citing pandemic-related concerns. Under new policy, U.S. can expel migrants who arrive irregularly; FM Marcelo Ebrard next day said Mexico would limit number of daily deportations from U.S. to 1,000.
Supreme Court ruled National Guard’s militarisation unconstitutional, criminal violence persisted, and Lopez Obrador protested U.S. “interference” in efforts to tackle fentanyl trafficking.
Mexico’s top court ruled law shifting National Guard to army unconstitutional. Supreme Court 18 April declared President López Obrador’s 2022 transfer of National Guard to Ministry of Defence unconstitutional, saying 2019 constitutional reform defined National Guard as “civilian police body”; in plenary session two days later, Court gave govt until 1 Jan 2024 to reintegrate National Guard into Ministry of Public Security. López Obrador 19 April said ruling was politically motivated and vowed to present new constitutional reform in Sept 2024 allowing National Guard to operate under Ministry of Defence’s command. Meanwhile, López Obrador 28 April backed proposal introduced day prior by Senate leader Alejandro Armenta to scrap Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection, responsible for processing public information requests.
Criminal violence continued, individuals detained over fire at migration centre. In Zacatecas state, shootout between security forces and alleged members of local criminal group 11 April left eight criminals dead in Pánuco municipality. In central Michoacán state, shootout between army and local criminal group 24 April left one soldier and six civilians dead in Ciudad Hidalgo municipality. In central Jalisco state, authorities 30 April arrested Rodrigo Páex Quintero, nephew of Sinaloa Cartel founder Caro Quintero. Meanwhile, authorities 16 April detained head of National Migratory Institute in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, in connection with fire at detention centre 27 March that killed 40 migrants; authorities 25 April charged head of immigration agency Francisco Garduño over incident.
28 Sinaloa cartel members indicted in U.S. fentanyl investigation. U.S. Justice Department 14 April announced indictments against 28 alleged members of Sinaloa Cartel’s Chapitos faction, which is accused of fentanyl production and trafficking into U.S. U.S. said its Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had infiltrated group without Mexican authorities’ knowledge, despite 2020 law prohibiting foreign agents from operating on Mexican soil without govt’s approval; López Obrador 17 April condemned DEA’s “abusive and prepotent interference”.
Senate set up commission to monitor military’s public security role amid accusations of misconduct, violence persisted at high levels, and President López Obrador sparred with U.S. lawmakers.
Lawmakers established commission to oversee military’s role in public security. Senate 15 March formed commission tasked with monitoring armed forces’ participation in public security tasks. Action comes after evidence of military wrongdoing surfaced. Notably, several media outlets 7 March published leaked military intelligence documents showing security forces illegally spied on human rights activists using Pegasus spyware; President López Obrador 10 March rejected accusations of espionage and spoke instead of “intelligence activities”. Interior ministry’s sub-secretary for human rights 15 March said five men killed late Feb by soldiers in Nuevo Laredo city, Tamaulipas state, were “executed”. Meanwhile, Supreme Court 24 March temporarily suspended parts of López Obrador’s electoral reform bill, including planned cuts to National Electoral Institute’s budget.
Criminal violence remained rampant, fire at migrant detention centre killed scores. In central Tamaulipas state, suspected members of Gulf Cartel 3 March kidnapped four U.S. citizens and killed two of them in Matamoros city; cartel 9 March handed over five men allegedly responsible and publicly apologised. In San Luis Potosí state, also in centre, shootout between security forces and members of local criminal group 9 March left one soldier and six criminals dead in Villa de Ramos municipality. Authorities 7-10 March reported disappearance of eight women in Celaya town. In central Mexico state, shootout between police and alleged members of Jalisco cartel 17 March left three police officers and one cartel member dead. In Ciudad Juárez city, fire 27 March in migrant detention centre killed 39; authorities 30 March arrested five for alleged role in incident.
López Obrador clashed with U.S. senators over calls for military action. Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr 2 March published op-ed in news outlet The Wall Street Journal calling for U.S. military action in Mexico, while U.S. Republican senators 8 March called for designation of Mexican criminal groups as foreign terrorist organisations, among other heavy-handed measures. López Obrador 9, 13 March condemned calls for foreign intervention and pointed out that U.S. bears some responsibility for violence in Mexico due to high demand for drugs.
Lawmakers passed controversial electoral reform bill, criminal violence remained high and U.S. court convicted former security secretary for accepting cartel bribes.
Lawmakers voted in favour of controversial electoral reform. National Electoral Institute (INE) 1 Feb filed constitutional challenge to govt’s “Plan B” electoral reform before Supreme Court, saying it will prevent INE from fulfilling its role as election watchdog by reducing its budget and size, softening penalties for electoral wrongdoing and allowing candidates to use public funds in election campaigns. Opposition parties PAN, PRI and PRD have also filed constitutional complaints since ruling Morena party approved reform in Dec 2022. Senate 22 Feb voted 72-50 in favour, however; thousands 26 Feb took to streets in Mexico City to protest reform.
Criminal violence, particularly targeting state officials, remained high. In central Michoacán state, soldiers 4 Feb killed two men in shootout in San Juan Parangaricutiro municipality. In north-eastern Nuevo León state, unknown gunmen 9 Feb shot dead three police officers in Salinas Victoria municipality; 66 police officers have been killed in 2023 so far, 61 per cent more than same period in 2022. In southern Quintana Roo state, authorities 11 Feb found bodies of four employees from Solidaridad municipality’s prosecutor’s office; victims had been tortured and killed in Playas del Carmen town. In north-western Baja California state, unknown gunmen 21 Feb shot dead journalist Araujo Ochoa in Encenada municipality. Meanwhile, in Tamaulipas state, security forces 26 Feb reportedly killed five unarmed civilians in Nuevo Laredo city; local human rights group next day called killings extrajudicial executions and filed complaint with Office of Attorney General.
U.S. court convicted García Luna of accepting bribes from Sinaloa cartel. U.S. court 21 Feb convicted former Public Security Secretary and war-on-drugs architect Genaro García Luna for accepting millions of dollars in bribes from Sinaloa Cartel to help shield group from capture.
Criminal violence remained high, govt appointed military officer for key role in public security apparatus, and U.S. and Mexico struck migration agreement.
Scores of security personnel killed amid high levels of violence. In north-western Sinaloa state, federal forces 5 Jan captured Ovidio Guzmán, leader of a Sinaloa Cartel faction and son of infamous drug trafficker “El Chapo” Guzmán, in Jesús Maria village; operation left at least 29 people dead, including ten military officers. In apparent bid to secure Guzmán’s release, cartel members same day set fire to shops and vehicles in area and shot at passenger plane in Culiacán airport. In northern Chihuahua state, leader of Los Mexicles criminal group, Ernesto Alberto Piñón de la Cruz, 1 Jan set off mutiny in Ciudad Juárez prison that left 17 people dead, including ten prison officers; he and 29 others escaped. Police 5 Jan killed Piñón in shootout in Ciudad Juárez. In central Mexico State, unknown gunmen 24 Jan killed seven people at gathering in Chimalhuacán municipality. In central Zacatecas state, unknown gunmen 28 Jan killed seven in bar in Jerez municipality. Violence targeting journalists also persisted. Notably, in north-western Sonora state, unknown gunmen 1 Jan shot at reporter Omar Castro.
Authorities drew criticism for further militarisation of public security. President López Obrador 16 Jan appointed former army general and commander of National Guard, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, as new sub-secretary of public security, renewing criticism against govt for entrusting military officers with civilian tasks. Supreme Court 24 Jan upheld controversial article of National Law on Registration of Detentions, which allows armed forces to make civilian arrests without informing police or public.
In other important developments. Mexico and U.S. 5 Jan announced agreement under which U.S. will accept 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela; Mexico will accept 30,000 people from same nations having crossed, or tried to cross, U.S. border illegally each month. Trial of Genaro García Luna 16 Jan commenced in New York, U.S.; García Luna, public security secretary and chief war-on-drugs architect under former President Felipe Calderón, is accused of facilitating Sinaloa Cartel’s drug shipments into U.S. and helping group evade capture.
Criminal violence remained high, authorities made further progress on controversial electoral reforms, and local protests over planned hydraulic works turned violent.
Criminal violence persisted at high levels. In central Zacatecas state, unknown gunmen 6 Dec shot dead police officer in Guadalupe municipality. Also in Zacatecas, unknown assailants 19 Dec killed two police officers in separate events in state capital, Zacatecas city, bringing number of police officers killed nationwide in 2022 to 389. In central Michoacán state, authorities 4 Dec arrested alleged regional leader of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), known as “El Panther”, in Uruapan city. In central Jalisco state, authorities 21 Dec captured Antonio Oseguera, brother of CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera, in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga municipality. In central Mexico state, armed confrontation between security forces and suspected members of criminal group La Familia Michoacana 27 Dec left three dead. In southern Guerrero state, members of La Familia Michoacana 10 Dec gathered residents of El Durazno locality in Coyuca de Catalán municipality in a primary school and killed seven of them. Meanwhile, NGO Reporters Without Borders 14 Dec identified Mexico as most dangerous country for journalists for fourth consecutive year.
Chamber of Deputies approved controversial electoral reform. After 6 Dec rejecting electoral reform proposed in April by President López Obrador, Chamber of Deputies 14 Dec approved so-called “Plan B”, which amends six secondary electoral laws and reduces structure and budget of National Electoral Institute (INE). INE board members same day issued statement pointing out that reform will jeopardise establishment of polling stations, vote counting, timely monitoring of radio and television stations, and oversight of political party activities and election campaigns.
Local protests erupted over hydraulic works. Residents of Xochimilco and Milpa Alta municipalities 2 Dec blocked roads in Mexico City to protest hydraulic works, which they said started without first consulting with local communities; police same day attempted to forcibly unblock roads, leading to violent confrontations that left over 20 people injured. Protesters 9 Dec lifted blockades after local govt agreed to suspend drainage works.
Criminal violence remained high, govt efforts to push through legislation extending military control over policing met resistance, and opposition against electoral reform mounted.
Lethal violence remained high. In central Guanajuato state, unknown assailants 6 Nov killed mother looking for her missing son in Abasolo city, becoming fifth volunteer search activist to be murdered this year. Also in Guanajuato, arrest of a Santa Rosa de Lima cartel leader sparked wave of violence, leaving nine dead in Apaseo el Alto municipality. In Tarimoro municipality, unknown gunmen 22 Nov shot dead four family members of local police officer. In central Zacatecas department, unknown gunmen 24 Nov shot dead National Guard coordinator José Silvestre Urzúa in Pinos municipality. In eastern Veracruz state, unknown assailants 22 Nov killed journalist Pedro Pablo Kumul in regional capital Xalapa. In central Tamaulipas state, shoot-out following arrest of criminal leader 28 Nov prompted schools and public transport to shut down. In central Jalisco state, unknown gunmen 29 Nov shot dead two civilians in their home in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga municipality.
Govt efforts to deepen militarisation of public security faced headwinds. Senate 9 Nov approved constitutional reform allowing armed forces to continue performing domestic law enforcement duties until 2028, after consent of over 20 state legislatures. Still, govt’s efforts to militarise public security stalled after federal judges in Guanajuato city and Mexico City 15 Nov granted provisional suspension against integration of National Guard into ministry of defence, arguing that initiative violates constitution; planned integration had prompted criticism from civil society observers who accused President López Obrador of breaking campaign promise to keep National Guard a civilian institution.
Proposed electoral reforms sparked backlash. López Obrador’s proposed electoral reforms, which envisage an overhaul of National Electoral Institute (INE) and reduction in number of legislators in Congress and Senate, prompted thousands 13 Nov to protest in over 16 states amid fears reforms could threaten independence and impartiality of electoral system. Despite these calls, López Obrador sought to advance proposals, with Chamber of Deputies 28 Nov approving reform in first debate. Meanwhile, López Obrador 27 Nov led march in Mexico City in response to opposition protests.
Deadly violence, notably targeting local officials, remained high, authorities continued to push through legislation extending military control over policing, and govt struck deal with U.S. to host Venezuelan migrants.
Lethal violence persisted at high levels, notably targeting local officials. In south, unidentified individuals, allegedly linked to criminal outfit, 5 Oct stormed town hall of San Miguel Totolapan municipality, Guerrero state, killing at least 20 including local mayor, police officers and municipal employees; unidentified assailant same day shot dead local Deputy Gabriela Marin in Cuernavaca city, Morelos state. Also in south, in Tabasco state, unknown gunmen 11 Oct killed former mayor of Comalcalco municipality; unknown gunmen 26 Oct shot dead environmental activist in Santiago Jamiltepec municipality, Oaxaca state. In centre, unknown gunmen 15 Oct opened fire in bar in Irapuato municipality, Guanajuato state, killing at least 12; unknown gunmen 4 Oct shot dead activist looking for her disappeared daughter in Puebla city, Puebla state. In north, in Ciudad Juárez city, Chihuahua state, unidentified assailants 13 Oct shot dead former prosecutor for homicides against women and one other. Confrontations between armed groups 13 Oct left at least five dead in four municipalities of Sonora state (north west).
Legislative process to deepen militarisation of public security continued apace. Congress 13 Oct approved constitutional reform allowing armed forces to carry out public security tasks until 2028 instead of 2024; bill must now be approved by 17 out of 32 state legislatures to become law. As of 27 Oct, 13 states had approved reform. Meanwhile, Chamber of Deputies 11 Oct approved initiative allowing federal govt to take unused funds in financial system (bank accounts that have been inactive for over six years) to buy police equipment.
Govt agreed to host Venezuelan migrants turned away at U.S. border. In move condemned by human rights groups, U.S. 12 Oct announced agreement with Mexico to send Venezuelan migrants back into Mexico under Title 42 provision of immigration law introduced during Trump era. Following announcement, migration authorities 15 Oct urged Venezuelan migrants to avoid irregular entry into their territory, saying it would make them “ineligible” for asylum in U.S.
Authorities stepped up military control over policing amid persistently high levels of criminal violence.Authorities took steps to deepen militarisation of public security. Govt proposal to formally integrate National Guard into defence ministry 9 Sept came into effect. Civil society groups same day condemned decision, with NGO Amnesty International saying increased military involvement in public security would “lead to more human rights violations and perpetuate impunity”. Responding to accusations he broke campaign promise to demilitarise public security, President López Obrador 6 Sept claimed he had changed his mind after realising gravity of security situation. In response to López Obrador’s move, protests 6, 15, 17 Sept took place in Mexico City. Meanwhile, lower house 14 Sept passed constitutional amendment, proposed by opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, allowing armed forces to carry out public security tasks until 2028 instead of 2024. Senate 20 Sept approved amendment with 18 votes in favour.Criminal violence remained high. Unidentified gunmen 22 Sept opened fire in bar in Tarimoro town, Guanajuato state (centre), killing ten. Unknown assailants 25 Sept ambushed police officers in Cañitas de Felipe Pescador municipality, Zacatecas state (centre north), injuring five. Meanwhile, advocacy group Global Witness 29 Sept released report on threats to environmental activists, showing that Mexico recorded highest number of killings of any country in 2021, totalling 54.Efforts to address impunity for past disappearances continued to face challenges. General Prosecutor’s Office 25 Sept cancelled 21 of 83 arrest warrants it requested last Aug against former officials allegedly involved in 2014 disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, Guerrero state; judge 14 Sept acquitted José Luis Abarca, former mayor of Iguala, of having ordered students’ kidnapping. Authorities 15 Sept arrested General José Rodríguez Pérez, then commander of local infantry battalion, for allegedly ordering killing and disappearance of six of the students; Rodríguez Pérez is first high-ranking military officer arrested in case.
Rival criminal groups clashed, deadly attacks on journalists continued, and govt announced plans to extend military’s control over policing. Deadly violence persisted at high levels during month. In Jalisco and Guanajuato states (both centre), suspected members of Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) 9 Aug blocked roads and set fire to vehicles and shops, apparently in response to federal forces’ attempt to capture leading members of group. In Ciudad Juárez city, Chihuahua state (north), suspected members of Sinaloa Cartel’s affiliated groups Los Mexicles and Los Chapos 11 Aug clashed inside local prison, killing two. Violence same day spilled onto city streets, with members of Los Mexicles killing nine. In Baja California state (north west), presumed members of local criminal group Los Erres, which collaborates with CJNG, 12 Aug blocked roads and set fire to public transport in Tecate, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada and Tijuana cities. Suspected members of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel 25 Aug clashed with local gang in Tuzantla municipality, Michoacán state (centre), killing eight. Deadly attacks on journalists continued. Unknown assailants 2 Aug shot dead journalist Ernesto Méndez in San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato; authorities 16 Aug found body of missing journalist Juan Arjón López in San Luis Río Colorado municipality, Sonora state (north west). Human rights organisation Article-19 18 Aug said 2022 “could be the worst year in a century” for Mexico’s journalists, with 331 documented attacks between Jan and June. President López Obrador 8 Aug announced he would present legislation to formally integrate National Guard into Ministry of Defence (SEDENA), prompting criticism from civil society observers for breaking promise to keep National Guard as civilian institution. Defence Minister Gen Luis Cresencio Sandoval 10 Aug confirmed National Guard will be formally integrated into SEDENA 16 Sept. Meanwhile, authorities 25 Aug announced former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam will be criminally prosecuted for disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa college in 2014, becoming highest-ranking official facing justice for their deaths.
Protests erupted in Mexico City calling for authorities to address root causes of violence, which persisted at high levels throughout month; President López Obrador met with U.S. President Biden to discuss border security. Following late June killing of two priests in Chihuahua state (north), Jesuits 10 July protested in Mexico City, calling upon society and govt to collectively resolve root causes of violence. Jalisco Cartel New Generation criminal group in video released 8 July called on rivals not to harm “priests, teachers, doctors, nurses” in disputes between armed groups. Meanwhile, criminal violence continued across country. Notably, unknown assailants 3 July shot dead family of seven in Boca del Río city, Veracruz state (east); unidentified gunmen 4 July shot dead three police officers and wounded one in San Francisco del Mar town, Oaxaca state (south); armed individuals 10 July killed six and wounded eight at family celebration in León city, Guanajuato state (centre); gunmen 26 July shot dead six at drug rehabilitation centre near Guadalajara city, Jalisco state (centre). President López Obrador and U.S. President Joe Biden 12 July met in Washington to discuss border security amid U.S. frustration with Mexico’s counter-narcotics efforts. Mexico agreed to improve border security through $1.5bn investment. In Choix municipality, Sinaloa state (north west), security forces 15 July arrested Caro Quintero, founder of Sinaloa Cartel and priority U.S. target, for alleged 1985 assassination of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico. During 15 July operation, 14 marines died in helicopter crash. Ruling party MORENA 30-31 July held internal primaries to elect deputies to National Congress, during which local media reported number of incidents. Notably, unknown men 31 July burned ballot boxes in Tequixquiac municipality, Mexico state (centre); civilians same day reported other irregularities such as forged ballot papers, theft and destruction of ballot boxes and ballot papers, as well as vote-buying throughout country. Meanwhile, finance ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit 7 July said it had uncovered suspicious money transfers by former President Enrique Peña Nieto between 2019 and 2021, and that State Attorney’s Office had opened formal investigation.
Criminal violence continued at high levels, with rising deadly attacks on security forces; ruling party MORENA consolidated governorship positions ahead of 2024 presidential elections. In Guerrero state (south), two unidentified assailants 6 June killed chicken vendor in market in Chilpancingo municipality; two more were attacked 9 June in same market, leaving one dead; six more assassinated 11 June, including one child; attacks apparently committed by criminal group looking to extract protection payments from sector. In Chiapas state (south), unidentified gunmen 8 June shot dead Rubén de Jesús Valdez Díaz, mayor of Teopisca city, making him 17th mayor to be killed during López Obrador’s presidency since Dec 2018. In Tamaulipas state (centre), unknown assailant 29 June killed local reporter in state capital Ciudad Victoria amid ongoing targeting of journalists. Meanwhile, dozens of armed individuals 14 June confronted each other in San Cristóbal de la Casas municipality in apparent competition over two local market centres and related extortion and illicit drug activities. In Mexico state (centre), armed confrontation between security forces and suspected members of La Familia Michoacana 14 June left eleven dead in Texcaltitlán municipality. Violence against security forces also intensified. In Nuevo Leon State (north east), unidentified gunmen 26 June ambushed and killed six police officers in Anáhuac municipality; in Tamaulipas state (centre), armed men 26 June ambushed police patrol in Mante municipality, killing one police officer; and in Guanajuato state (centre), assailants 26 June killed former police director. Authorities 11-12 June recorded 257 homicides nationwide, making it second most violent weekend in 2022. Ruling party MORENA 5 June won four out of six governorships up for election in Quintana Roo, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Tamaulipas states, lost Durango and Aguascalientes. MORENA now controls 22 out of 32 state governorships. President López Obrador following day called upon MORENA leaders aspiring for presidency in 2024 elections to start discussing their programs with party members, who will decide on candidate in internal vote; Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, FM Marcelo Ebrard and Interior Minister Adán Augusto López are all frontrunners.
Lethal violence remained high, notably targeting journalists, and President López Obrador called on U.S. to ease embargo on Cuba. Criminal violence continued during month. Notably, unidentified armed group 3 May attacked offices of Attorney General’s Office of Mexico State in Sultepec municipality (centre), blocking roads and wounding two agents, in fourth such incident in area in 2022. In apparent gang shooting, 15 unidentified gunmen opened fire in two bars in Celaya city, Guanajuato state (centre), killing at least 11. Journalists faced targeted violence: unidentified gunmen 4 May killed journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez Ramos in Culiacán city, Sinaloa state (north west); unidentified gunmen 9 May shot dead journalists Yessenia Mollinedo and Johana García in Cosoleacaque municipality, Veracruz state (east). Other violence persisted, notably involving state forces. Puebla state police 9 May allegedly ambushed members of indigenous group Unidad por Coyomeapan, who occupied offices of city govt since June 2021 to prevent local politician they accused of electoral fraud from taking office, leaving four dead. Civilians 11 May confronted and chased off soldiers in Nueva Italia municipality, Michoacán state (centre); army said it entered area in search of methamphetamine laboratories and accused locals of collaborating with local armed group, while civilians said soldiers acted on behalf of armed group Los Viagras. Municipal police 1 May violently supressed march protesting violence against women in Irapuato city, Guanajuato state (centre), arresting dozens, who were released next day. Interior Ministry’s National Registry of Missing People 16 May registered 100,000 people as missing or disappeared. Human rights organisation Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho 28 May released report denouncing militarisation of migration policy since President López Obrador took office. U.S. judge 20 May blocked President Biden’s plan to end pandemic-era policy allowing U.S. authorities to turn away asylum seekers arriving at country’s southern border with Mexico. López Obrador 7-8 May visited Cuba calling for “renovation” of country’s “revolution” and on U.S. to lift sanctions, 10 May said he would not attend U.S. summit planned 6-10 June if other countries were excluded, 18 May demanded Venezuela and Nicaragua be invited.
High levels of criminal violence persisted, recall referendum confirmed President López Obrador as head of state, and authorities detained thousands of irregular migrants. In Guerrero state (south), prosecutor’s office said two gunmen launched attack in coastal resort of Acapulco, killing two; police later shot dead assailants. In Michoacán state (centre), clashes between security forces and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) 2 April killed at least nine in Sahuayo municipality, including one police officer; security forces 4 April killed five suspected CJNG members in Chavinda and Jaconda municipalities. In Veracruz state (east), shoot-out between alleged crime group members and police 5 April killed four in Acultzingo. In Mexico state (centre), unidentified attackers 10-11 April shot dead family of eight in Tultepec municipality. In Chihuahua state (north), unidentified criminal group 16 April killed five, including police officer and migration official in Janos municipality. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 12 April called for end to “absolute impunity” over disappearances, said organised crime “central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants”; By late Nov 2021, over 95,000 people registered as disappeared, with average of 8,000 new cases each year since 2017. Senate 27 April approved establishment of National Human Identification Centre to facilitate search for missing persons, albeit without allocating resources. On political front, in first recall referendum in country’s history, 92 per cent of 18 per cent registered voters 1o April voted for President López Obrador to remain in office for six-year term, which supporters viewed as proof of his popularity; opposition dismissed vote as propaganda. Ruling party MORENA 17 April failed to obtain two thirds parliamentary majority necessary to change constitution and implement energy reform, tightening govt control over energy sector. MORENA majority 18 April fast-tracked change in mining law to secure national control over lithium; Senate 20 April passed new mining code. National Migration Institute 26 April said authorities detained almost 6,000 migrants in four-day span, pointing at sharp rise in irregular migration; in just one day, authorities 24 April arrested 330 migrants on Puebla-Orizaba highway.
High levels of criminal violence continued, notably targeting women and journalists; authorities held talks with U.S. on mass migration. More than 75,000 women 8 March demonstrated on International Women’s Day to condemn pervasive gender-based violence. During month, suspected members of El Abuelo Cartel 8 March killed four women in Tepalcatepec in Michoacán state (centre); in first quarter of 2022, International NGO ACLED recorded over 90 attacks targeting women across country. Meanwhile, journalists faced targeted violence: unidentified gunman 4 March shot dead journalist Juan Carlos Muñiz in Fresnillo city, Zacatecas state (centre north), and unidentified attackers 15 March killed journalist Armando Linares in Zitácuaro city, Michoacán state. European Parliament 10 March passed resolution that condemned killings of journalists and urged President López Obrador “to ensure that human rights defenders and journalists can continue their activities without fear of reprisal and without restriction”; in response, López Obrador same day slammed resolution as “slanderous”. Other violence persisted. In Michoacán state (centre), unidentified gunman 10 March shot dead mayor of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG)-controlled Aguililla city; shoot-out between CJNG and Carteles Unidos (CU) 10 March killed five in Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro village; gunmen 27 March attacked clandestine cockfighting venue, killing 20 in Las Tijanas locality. Following 13 March arrest of suspected leader of Northeast Cartel Juan Gerardo Treviño “El Huevo” in Nuevo Laredo city, Tamaulipas state (north near U.S. border), gang members 14 March launched armed attacks against military installations and blocked roads; authorities 15 March extradited El Huevo to U.S. on organised crime and drug-trafficking charges, with Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard labelling arrest as “one of the most important of the last decade”. Federal forces 13 March also detained alleged leader of CJNG Aldrin Miguel Jarquín in Colima state (west). Mexican and U.S. officials 14 March discussed need to address “unprecedented flow” of migrants and its root causes at high-level meeting in Mexico City. Several thousand Ukrainians and anti-war Russians during month tried to enter U.S. via Mexico; in response, U.S. authorities granted one-year temporary “humanitarian parole” to Ukrainians despite Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” migration policy.
Targeted killings of journalists prompted local outcry, armed group violence continued unabated, and U.S. authorities temporarily halted avocado import after security incident. Deadly attacks on journalists continued throughout month, with a total of at least six journalists killed since Jan: suspected gang members 5 Feb killed former journalist Ernesto Islas Flores outside his house in Tijuana city, Baja California state (north west); unidentified gunmen 10 Feb shot dead journalist Heber Lopez in Oaxaca state (south). President López Obrador 11 Feb illegally revealed financial information about journalist Carlos Loret; Loret is among those who reported alleged conflict of interest in president’s family, including case involving one of López Obrador’s sons. In response to attacks on journalists, dozens of reporters 14 Feb launched protest at Chamber of Deputies session; series of protests across country urging govt to put an end to violence on journalists followed in subsequent weeks. Meanwhile, armed groups violence continued across country. Notably, clashes 5 Feb erupted between criminal gangs in Zacatecas state (centre north), killing 16; three separate armed attacks 2, 3, 6 Feb killed ten in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca state (south). Authorities 7 Feb found body of Enrique Velázquez Orozco, mayor of Contepec municipality, Michoacán state (centre), who had disappeared two days earlier; 10 Feb found four plastic bags with human remains in front of govt building in Yehualtepec municipality, Puebla state (centre). In Tapachula city, Chiapas state (south), hundreds of migrants 3 Feb protested against slow pace of visa approvals and threatened to form new caravan; National Human Rights Commission 5 Feb asked immigration authorities to speed up regularisation processes to allow nearly 2,000 migrants to regularise their stay or travel free from detention. Mexico representative of UN refugee agency 11 Feb urged Mexico to find alternatives to migrant detention or asylum. In unprecedented step, U.S. 12 Feb suspended avocado imports from Michoacán state after U.S. health inspector reportedly received threatening phone call; authorities 18 Feb lifted ban.
High levels of criminal violence notably targeting journalists continued; ruling party came in spotlight for corruption case. Deadly criminal violence continued. In Zacatecas state (centre), Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) 6 Jan left car filled with ten bodies in front of state governor’s office in state capital Zacatecas; police arrested two suspects. In Veracruz state (east), CJNG 7 Jan reportedly dumped nine bodies in Isla municipality and accused Veracruz official of collaborating with Sinaloa Cartel; 8 Jan dumped four bodies outside state capital Xalapa. Unidentified gunmen 9, 16 Jan attacked bars in Ciudad Juárez municipality, Chihuahua state (north), and Comalcalco municipality, Tabasco state (south), killing respectively three and six people. In context of regular clashes between CJNG and “United Cartels” coalition, unidentified gunmen 17 Jan killed five outside Tarecuato town, Michoacán state (centre). Armed men 27 Jan killed seven people in Zamora city, Michoacán state (west). Unidentified gunmen 29 Jan attacked army patrols in several towns of Michoacán, injuring ten soldiers; army accused local population of acting as “social base” for CJNG. Killings of journalists persisted. Notably, unknown assailants 12 Jan attacked journalist José Luis Gamboa in Veracruz port, Veracruz state (east); Gamboa three days later died from his wounds. In Tijuana city, Baja California state (north west), unidentified gunman 17 Jan shot dead photojournalist Margarito Martinez Esquivel outside his home; gunman 23 Jan shot dead journalist Lourdes Maldonado in her car. Electoral Court of Judicial Power 12 Jan confirmed ruling MORENA party would have to pay 4.5mn pesos fine (about $190,000) after National Electoral Institute mid-Sept found 10% of Texcoco municipal workers’ wages (around $600,000) had been used for party financing between 2013 and 2015; President López Obrador 18 Jan publicly expressed support toward Secretary of Education Delfina Gómez who was Texcoco mayor at the time. Head of country’s Commission for Refugee Assistance Andres Ramirez 3 Jan said number of asylum applications in Mexico nearly doubled in 2021 from 2019, mostly from Haitian and Honduran migrants. U.S. 5 Jan began returning migrants to Tijuana city in restart of Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” migration policy.
Deadly criminal violence continued, while U.S. reinstated Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” migration policy. In Tula City, Hidalgo state (centre), members of local oil theft gang Pueblos Unidos 1 Dec attacked prison and liberated nine inmates including group leader; authorities next day re-apprehended three, arrested ten people suspected of playing role in attack and reportedly put 12 security forces members under investigation. In Chinicuila municipality, Michoacán state (centre), internal displacements continued due to new waves of violence: clashes 7 Dec erupted between members of Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and National Guard; CJNG 8 Dec exploded drones on civilians in Chinicuila, Villa Victoria. About half of 4,800 Chinicuila inhabitants fled during month, including mayor and 15 police officers who 10 Dec resigned denouncing lack of federal govt support. In Jalisco state (centre), armed clashes 7 Dec erupted between CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel in Teocaltiche municipality, leaving seven dead. In Cerritos municipality, San Luis Potosí state (also centre), police 8 Dec launched operation against reported members of criminal group, leaving five killed in shootout including one police. Meanwhile, several armed clashes 29-30 Dec killed at least 14 people in Zacatecas state (also centre). U.S. and Mexican officials 2 Dec announced restart of former U.S. President Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy which forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. courts to hear their immigration cases; after U.S. President Biden issued new rescission memo, federal appeals court 13 Dec upheld order to reinstate policy. In Tuxtla Gutiérrez city, Chiapas state (south), truck packed mainly with Guatemalan migrants being smuggled northward 9 Dec flipped over, leaving at least 55 dead and 105 injured. U.S. and Mexico 14 Dec officially relaunched bilateral security operation with new agreement “Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health and Safe Communities” entering into force to replace 2007 Merida Initiative. UN Security Council 22 Dec approved Mexico’s resolution against arms trafficking.
Armed group violence continued at high levels with renewed fighting for control of trafficking routes reported in several states. Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) stepped up offensive in attempt to extend control over Michoacán state (centre). Notably, CJNG 6 Nov reportedly killed seven men and left dismembered bodies in Hidalgo city with note addressed to rival Los Correa Cartel; 8-9 Nov raided Chinicuila town and Tepalcatepec city, leaving six soldiers injured and reportedly causing displacement of around 1,500 families. Also in Michoacán state, unidentified armed group 1 Nov killed 11 farmers in Tangamandapio town. In Mexico state (also centre), suspected members of criminal group La Familia Michoacana 4 Nov killed at least two police officers in ambush in Texcatitlán town. Authorities 15 Nov detained wife of CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes in Zapopan locality, Jalisco state (centre); in apparent retaliation, suspected CJNG members next day kidnapped two navy personnel in same locality, releasing them 19 Nov. Escalating clashes between criminal groups and state forces also reported in Zacatecas state (centre). Notably, criminal group 8 Nov kidnapped and later killed three police officers in Loreto municipality; in apparent gang-related killings, at least 16 bodies found 18 and 23 Nov in Zacatecas. Meanwhile in Quintana Roo state (south), shootout between suspected criminal groups 4 Nov killed two group members in Cancun resort town, casting doubts on security conditions in Mexico’s biggest tourist hub. In Chiapas state (also south), paramilitary group 3-5 Nov attacked Indigenous community in Aldama town amid land conflict, reportedly forcing 3,000 to flee. Violence also erupted in Chiapas as law enforcement tried to contain thousands of migrants heading north: after National Guard 31 Oct opened fire on truck carrying migrants, killing one, clashes 4 Nov left several injured on both sides. Govt 23 Nov said most migrants had accepted offer to quit caravan in exchange for legal status in Mexico. U.S. authorities 30 Nov sentenced wife of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to three years imprisonment for helping Sinaloa drug cartel.
Criminal violence remained at high level, and security dialogue with U.S. kicked off. Shootout between two criminal groups 10 Oct left 20 dead in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality, Chihuahua state (north). Unidentified gunmen same day killed four off-duty police officers in Zacatecas municipality, Zacatecas state (centre north). In Michoacán state (centre), unidentified gunmen 18 Oct attacked nightclub in Morelia municipality, killing six. Shootout between suspected criminal group members 20 Oct killed two foreign tourists in Tulum resort town, Quintana Roo state (south). In Tamaulipas state (north near U.S. border), clashes erupted between law enforcement and Gulf Cartel (CDG) in Matamoros town, leaving four CDG dead 17 Oct and at least another three killed 22-23 Oct, including cartel leader Ariel Treviño Peña, alias “el Tigre”. Interior ministry 5 Oct said 47 journalists and 94 human rights and environmental activists killed since start of President López Obrador’s term in late 2018, with perpetrators sentenced in only five and two cases respectively; also said state officials responsible for 43% and “organized crime” for 33% of attacks against journalists, which continued in Oct. Unidentified gunmen 26 and 28 Oct shot and killed two journalists in Guerrero and Chiapas states (south). Meanwhile, govt 6 Oct created Truth Commission to investigate grave human rights violations committed during country’s so-called anti-leftist “dirty war” between 1965 and 1990. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 8 Oct attended High-Level Security Dialogue in capital Mexico City to discuss new security cooperation agreement between U.S. and Mexico with view to replacing current Merida Initiative launched in 2007 to fight organised crime and associated violence. Authorities 6 Oct deported 129 Haitian migrants despite criticism from human rights and conflict prevention groups. In Hidalgo municipality (Tamaulipas state, north), authorities 8 Oct detained 652 mostly Guatemalan migrants bound for U.S. border, including 200 minors, 101 of whom were deported to Guatemala 12 Oct. Clashes 23 Oct erupted in Chiapas state (south) as law enforcement tried to contain thousands of migrants from Haiti, South America and Central America heading north.
High-level criminal violence persisted, with activists at particular risk, while authorities relaunched economic dialogue with U.S., including on migration issues. In Morelos state’s Cuernavaca city (centre), unidentified assailants killed environmental activist Rodrigo Morales Vázquez 2 Sept and social activist Alejandro García Zagal 7 Sept. In Chihuahua state (north), armed attack 7 Sept left nine dead in Cuauhtémoc municipality; Juárez Cartel’s La Línea faction 22 Sept reportedly killed six people in clash with Sinaloa Cartel. In Michoacán state (west), Jalisco Cartel New Generation throughout month attempted to take control of Michoacán-Jalisco border town of Tepalcatepec, with explosives-equipped drones now being reportedly used and threats specifically targeting civilians. Notably, during 14-15 Sept cartel offensive, gang members killed five individuals manning checkpoint; several people, including two national guardsmen, also injured during fighting. In Coahuila state (north east), soldiers 16 Sept killed nine people who had according to official sources attacked police officers in Hidalgo municipality. In suspected extortion-related attack in Guanajuato state (centre), package containing explosive device 19 Sept killed two civilians in Salamanca city; development illustrates escalating use of explosives by criminal groups. During visit of FM Marcelo Ebrard to U.S. capital Washington DC, Mexico and U.S. 9 Sept agreed to relaunch bilateral High-Level Economic Dialogue, which among other measures seeks to foment economic development in southern Mexico and Central America to curb migration. Violence against migrants continued. Notably, armed groups 13 Sept abducted and same day released 38 people, including 22 Haitians and Cubans, in Matehuala city, San Luis Potosí state. Migrants also continued to seek to cross border to U.S. under perilous circumstances: reports 16 Sept revealed that over 10,000 mostly Haitian migrants awaited in dire conditions under bridge outside U.S. city of Del Rio, in hope of being processed by U.S. immigration authorities. In Chiapas state (south), around 1,000 mostly Haitian migrants 28 Sept gathered in Tapachula city to request asylum appointments. Govt 29 Sept sent 70 Haitian migrants back to Haiti in what it described as “voluntary return” flight.
Drug cartel violence continued, with journalists at particular risk; U.S. policy toward migrants and refugees came under scrutiny. Heavy fighting throughout month persisted in Zacatecas state (centre north), allegedly between Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and Sinaloa Cartel-affiliated groups, leaving at least 28 dead 3-13 Aug. In video released 8 Aug, men claiming to speak on behalf of CJNG leader threatened to kill prominent TV journalist Azucena Uresti over what they deemed to be unfair coverage of battle between cartel and vigilante groups in Michoacán state (centre). Unidentified gunman 19 Aug shot dead radio journalist Jacinto Romero Flores in Ixtaczoquitlán town, Veracruz state (east). Meanwhile, federal govt 4 Aug filed lawsuit in U.S. court against 11 U.S. gunmakers and arm dealers for alleged negligent practices encouraging illegal arms trafficking to Mexico. In blow to President López Obrador, referendum on trying former presidents 1 Aug fell short of 40% turnout required to make it binding. Head of Mexico Supreme Court 6 Aug said he would conclude his term as planned in late 2022 despite Congress’s controversial decision in April to extend it by nearly two years. In possible strategic move ahead of 2024 presidential election, López Obrador 26 Aug appointed governor of his home state of Tabasco, Adán Augusto López Hernández, as new interior minister. UN refugee agency 11 Aug expressed concern after U.S. late July began deporting Central American undocumented migrants and asylum seekers to southern Mexico under COVID-19-related public health order. U.S. Supreme Court 24 Aug required U.S. President Biden’s administration to reinstate former U.S. President Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. courts to hear their immigration cases; U.S. govt same day said it would challenge ruling. Meanwhile, caravan of about 500 migrants and asylum seekers from Central America and Caribbean 28 Aug left southern city of Tapachula for Mexico City to protest slow asylum process as govt deployed hundreds of security forces, videos on social media showed National Guard troops and govt’s migration agency officers allegedly beating and detaining migrants.
Criminal groups continued to fight for control of trafficking routes in several states. In Zacatecas state (centre north), clashes between alleged members of Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and Sinaloa Cartel 1 July left 30 dead outside San Juan Capistrano town. In Chiapas state (south), suspected CJNG members 7 July killed five Sinaloa Cartel members, including son of former cartel chief in Chiapas, in drive-by shooting in state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Also in Chiapas, unidentified armed men 5 July shot and killed indigenous leader and human rights defender Simón Pedro Pérez López in Simojovel town; clashes 7 July erupted between drug-trafficking gangs and newly formed self-defence group in Chenalhó and Pentalhó municipalities, and gunmen 9 July ambushed military and police officers on their way to Pentalhó, leaving nine injured; suspected self-defence group 26 July raided Pentalhó and abducted 21 people; violence in area reportedly displaced thousands throughout month. Meanwhile in Tamaulipas state (north), three warring Gulf Cartel factions 26 July announced truce. Entire municipal administration-elect of Penjamillo municipality, Michoacán state (centre), 1 July announced it would not assume office; move comes after suspected criminal group kidnapped mayor-elect and killed two of his close collaborators following 6 June elections. In Mexico state (centre), federal authorities 5 July arrested former high-ranking federal police officer Luís Cárdenas Palomino over torture allegations. Meanwhile, Mexican news outlet Latinus 8 July released video reportedly showing President López Obrador’s brother Martín Jesús receiving large amount of cash from state official in 2015, when López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement first participated in elections; Latinus said cash was never reported to electoral authorities, and could amount to campaign finance violation; López Obrador next day said video was part of smear campaign to discredit him.
Legislative elections marked setback for ruling party amid ongoing violence by criminal groups. Ruling MORENA party 6 June lost absolute majority in lower house of Congress; together with allied Ecologist Green Party and Labour Party, MORENA still holds more than 50% of seats. President López Obrador 8 June said he would negotiate with Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to secure constitutional changes in electoral law, energy sector and security, which require two-thirds majority; 16 June said he would seek constitutional reform to formally incorporate National Guard into armed forces before 2023. MORENA also secured majority of municipalities, and won 11 out of 15 governorships, thus becoming country’s primary political force at state level. Violent incidents continued in lead-up to elections, including ambush that killed five people transporting voting materials in Chiapas state (south) 5 June. Consultancy firm Etellekt 21 June reported total of 102 politicians, including 36 candidates, killed since Sept 2020. In days following vote, demonstrators contested results on grounds of alleged electoral fraud and vote-buying notably in Tlaxcala state (centre), where MORENA won most mayorships previously held by PRI. Meanwhile, federal judge 15 June sentenced former mayor of Chínipas city (Chihuahua state in north), Schultz Alcaraz, to eight years in prison after Alcaraz admitted to having abetted assassination of journalist Miroslava Breach in 2017. In Tamaulipas state (north), unidentified gunmen 19 June killed at least 18 people among whom four drug lords in Reynosa city near U.S. border. In Zacatecas state (north), suspected shootout between two rival drug cartels 24-25 June killed 18. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 6-8 June visited Guatemala and Mexico on her first trip abroad since taking office, met with López Obrador in capital Mexico City; both sides agreed to continue to jointly address root causes of migration from Central America. Harris 25 June visited U.S.-Mexico border.
Armed group violence continued, notably targeting politicians and journalists in lead-up to 6 June legislative, regional and local elections. Authorities 29 April-12 May excavated 26 bodies in and around Irapuato town, Guanajuato state (centre). Amid turf battles between Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and rival Sinaloa Cartel in north of Jalisco state (centre), unidentified armed group 7 May abducted and later killed three siblings in state capital Guadalajara; thousands 12 May took to streets in Guadalajara to call for justice. In Sonora state (north), unidentified assailants early May killed local journalist in Sonoyta municipality and 13 May shot dead former state attorney and current mayoral candidate in Cajeme municipality. Also in north, unidentified gunmen 24 May ambushed and killed Sinaloa state police director near state capital Culiacan. Unidentified assailants 25 May killed mayoral candidate in Moroleon city in Guanajuato state, bringing to 34 number of candidates and to 88 number of politicians murdered ahead of 6 June vote. President López Obrador 7 May accused National Electoral Institute of tolerating vote buying by two opposition candidates in Nuevo León state (north). Attorney General’s Office 10 May announced investigations into both candidates over allegations of campaign irregularities; cases are currently the only ones made public out of 450 ongoing investigations for suspected electoral fraud. After collapse of Mexico City metro overpass 3 May killed 26, hundreds in following days took to streets to demand justice for victims and protest corruption and negligence; authorities had reportedly ignored successive warnings about structural weaknesses and damages in construction of elevated track. Ruling MORENA party-dominated Senate 6 May rejected creation of investigative commission into accident. López Obrador and U.S. VP Kamala Harris 7 May vowed to collaborate to tackle root causes of migration in Central America; more concrete steps expected during Harris’s visit to Mexico City scheduled for 8 June.
Criminal groups continued to target politicians and civil society activists ahead of June general elections, and tensions ran high between ruling party and electoral authorities. Suspected members of criminal group 3 April killed Carlos Marqués Oyorzábal, environmental activist and municipal commissioner in San Miguel Totolapan municipality, Guerrero state (south). Unidentified gunmen 24 April killed Francisco Rocha, candidate for Tamaulipas state (north) Congress, in state capital Ciudad Victoria. Etellekt, a consultancy firm tracking political killings, 10 April reported 68 politicians, including 22 candidates, killed since campaign for legislative, gubernatorial and municipal elections started in Sept 2020. Meanwhile, clashes between Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) and alliance of local criminal groups mid-March-early April reportedly left at least eight killed and displaced more than 1,000 in Aguililla municipality, Michoacán state (centre). U.S. 6 April sanctioned two CJNG members over accusations of involvement in attack on Mexico City’s police chief in June 2020 and murder of Jalisco state’s former governor in Dec 2020. National Electoral Institute (INE) 27 April confirmed its March decision to cancel 50 ruling MORENA party candidacies, including for governor of Guerrero and Michoacán states, over candidates’ failures to account for campaign spending. President López Obrador next day said decision was politically motivated and “blow against democracy”. Earlier in month, MORENA candidate for governor of Guerrero, Félix Salgado Macedonio, 11 April threatened to impede elections if barred from running, and next day emitted veiled threats against INE commissioners, asking his supporters if they would “not want to know where [the commissioners] lived”; women’s groups and allies have widely protested Salgado’s candidacy, who stands accused of rape. Govt-controlled Senate 15 April voted to prolong Supreme Court President Arturo Zaldívar’s tenure by two years until 2024, in possible violation of constitutional four-year limit to Supreme Court presidents’ tenure; opposition immediately accused MORENA and López Obrador of aiming to “control” institution ahead of 2024 presidential election. Amid rise in number of migrants on Mexico-U.S. border in recent months, U.S. govt 12 April said it had reached deal for Mexico to send more troops to border with Guatemala.