Campaign season in Mexico has seen a rash of murders, as organised crime seeks to cement its influence no matter which parties win. The government needs to keep trying to break bonds between criminals and authorities, beginning with efforts tailored to the country’s hardest-hit areas.
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.
As the coronavirus rages in Mexico and the northerly Central American countries, criminal outfits have adapted, often enlarging their turf. To fight organised crime more effectively, governments should combine policing with programs to aid the vulnerable and create attractive alternatives to illegal economic activity.
Crime rates are climbing across Mexico, as cartels splinter into smaller groups competing ferociously for turf. Just one state, Guerrero, contends with at least 40 such outfits. The government needs a tailored approach for each region, focused on protecting the public and reforming the police.
With hopes for change sky-high, Mexico’s president-elect confronts endemic violent crime and state corruption. To make good on his campaign promises, his team should pursue justice in killings by state personnel, reform the civilian police and give robust mandates to truth commissions with victim participation.
Mexico stops hundreds of thousands of Central Americans fleeing northward to the U.S. Many are deported, and many more are stuck in the country’s south, vulnerable to crime and rising xenophobia. With U.S. and European help, Mexico should work harder to protect migrants and foster economic development.
Mexico’s third-most populous state has suffered an unprecedented wave of violence. Veracruz’s new governor must stand by pledges to end state-criminal collusion and impunity. Strong international support will be needed to help find the bodies of the disappeared and transform the state police and legislature.
Cartels’ brand names fade away eventually. [But] all of those [other] networks stay in place.
The impotence of Mexican government security forces has been made particularly evident in the events of the last few months.
[The arrest of José Antonio Yépez] is basically a short-lived P.R. victory, but it doesn’t provide a solution. The big worry is that there is no backing in terms of a more cohesive security strategy.
While much of the narrative around violence in Mexico focuses on drug trafficking and cartels, the "on-the-ground realities are far more complex.
But in Mexico, armed clashes between rival crime factions continued throughout March and early April, and 2,585 homicides were registered last month alone.
These [armed] groups [in Mexico] are trying to be seen as catering materially and providing a notion of security in places where they are also directly preying on the population [...].
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh, Richard Atwood and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group’s Latin America Director, talk about COVID-19’s devastation, polarisation and populism in the region, as well as the Venezuela crisis and violence in Mexico.
The failure of the “war on drugs” – now a welter of spreading conflicts – is a U.S.-Mexican co-production. Washington should stop pushing Mexico City to throw ever more military force at organised crime. Instead, it should help its southern neighbour find solutions tailored to each locale.
The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. This has come at the cost of thousands of lives, with last year being the deadliest on record. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.
Panel en línea con la participación de los expertos de Crisis Group Falko Ernst y Jane Esberg, quienes presentan sus últimos informes sobre la violencia en México, comentarios a cargo del destacado investigador y columnista Sergio Aguayo y moderado por la subdirectora del Programa de América Latina y el Caribe, Renata Segura.
The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.