Mexico’s judicial institutions are no match for widespread corruption and powerful transnational cartels that dominate parts of the country. Years of an over-militarised “war on drugs” and proliferating criminal rackets have destabilised the country and its neighbours, forcing thousands of refugees and migrants to risk their lives fleeing through Mexico from “Northern Triangle” neighbours like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Crisis Group focuses on addressing transnational crime, high-level corruption, trafficking and migration, with a special emphasis on the effect these have on children, women and other vulnerable groups. Our aim is to provide a more comprehensive and sub-regional understanding of the challenges to security posed by globalised criminal networks, local gangs and an elusive rule of law.
The “war on drugs” has morphed into a new rash of killings in Mexico. The deadly violence of increasingly well-organised, business-minded criminal groups risks being aggravated by government inaction, corruption and bombastic U.S. rhetoric – exactly what caused the problem in the first place.
Originally published in Esglobal
Continued killings related to organised crime included 30 murders reported in Sinaloa state (north west) 1 July, mostly related to fragmentation of Sinaloa cartel and militarisation of region; nineteen occurred in single confrontation between security forces and suspected gang members in Villa Unión. Nine killed in Huehuetlán el Grande, Puebla state (centre) 2-3 July; 26 killed in clash between police and members of “La Línea” and Sinaloa Cartel in La Varas, Chihuahua (north west) 5 July; eleven killed at party in Tizayuca, Hidalgo (centre) 13 July. In Mexico City, five suspected gang members killed in clash with marines 20 July and five people killed in separate shootings 23 July; official figures revealed May-June 2017 as deadliest two-month period recorded in capital with 206 murders. Month also saw resurgence in self-defence groups. José Manuel Mireles Valverde, former self-defence leader in Michoacán (south west), 11 July called for self-defence groups to assemble in Tepalcatepec city, demanded armed forces withdraw; reports emerged of subsequent confrontation and tensions between local population and armed forces. Twenty people wounded in Tlatempanapa, Guerrero 15 July when army tried to disarm self-defence group. Local residents announced creation of self-defence groups in Vallecito de Zaragoza, Guerrero 16 July and Chiapas highlands 18 July; Mexico City mayor 18 July denied rumours of self-defence group in capital. Interior minister 18 July said self-defence groups would not be tolerated. NGO Redodem 5 July denounced increase since 2016 in crimes against immigrants, especially in Chiapas (south) and Guanajuato (centre). Edwin Rivera Paz, Honduran journalist living in Acayucan, Veracruz (south east) assassinated 9 July. UN human rights chief 10 July denounced reported torture 3-5 July of ten civilians by municipal police in Aguascalientes (centre).
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.
Violence is up but impunity remains the norm in Guerrero, where the lines between organised crime and legitimate authority are often blurred. President Peña Nieto’s government must turn a new leaf and embrace new investigative bodies and international expertise capable of regaining the trust that Guerrero’s corrupted institutions have lost.
For lessons on crime prevention, Mexico can look to the example of Ciudad Juárez, the world’s “murder capital” in 2008-2010. Government and citizens worked together to bring violence down by strengthening local law enforcement and addressing socio-economic inequalities. These initiatives should be monitored, refined and expanded if Mexico is to overcome its country-wide crisis of confidence at all levels.
The rise of civilian militias to combat lawlessness will make it harder than ever to defeat the cartels unless the government regulates the vigilantes.
Mexico must build an effective police and justice system, as well as implement comprehensive social programs, if it is to escape the extraordinary violence triggered by the country’s destructive cartels in extortion, kidnapping and control of transnational crime.
The United States should recognise that its own economic and security interests would be well served by cooperation, not confrontation, with Mexico to tackle organised crime and corruption.
Supporting the Truth Commission of Veracruz would be a good way to foster civil society initiatives in order to prevent violence and help to build democratic institutions in Mexico.
México tendrá que encontrar una forma de relacionarse con el futuro gobierno de Trump, algo complicado y difícil para una economía que no ha logrado despegar realmente, ni cubrir todas las necesidades de su población
Originally published in Miami Herald
Originally published in Open Society Foundation
Deportations from Mexico and the U.S. will not stop Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence. Instead of building a wall, the U.S. should help Mexico provide safe, secure reception areas on its southern border for Central American migrants.
Originally published in Los Angeles Times
Originally published in The World Post