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A new president seeks to revitalise Mexico’s state institutions, for decades bedevilled by widespread corruption and powerful transnational criminal organisations. Crime and the twelve-year “war on drugs” have destabilised the country; meanwhile, thousands of refugees and migrants flee through Mexico from similar volatility in Central America. Crisis Group focuses on addressing criminal violence, institutional corruption, trafficking and migration, emphasising the effect these problems have on children, women and other vulnerable groups. Our aim is to help solve challenges to security posed by globalised criminal networks, local armed groups and the elusiveness of state rule.

CrisisWatch Mexico

Unchanged Situation

Civil society staged large protests over femicides while criminal violence continued unabated. At least 100,000 people marched in capital Mexico City 8 March to demand end to violence against women; next day, women across country went on strike in observance of “day without women”, with some commercial establishments including banks shutting. Criminal violence continued in Guanajuato state (centre): cartel Santa Rosa de Lima 10 March clashed with state forces and blocked roads reportedly after authorities attempted to detain group’s leader José Antonio Yépez alias “El Marro”; President López Obrador next day denied effort to capture Yépez and said violence was triggered by early March arrests of group members; competition between Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) over fuel siphoning and other illegal revenue streams continued. López Obrador met mother of former Sinaloa Cartel lead Joaquín Guzmán alias “El Chapo” in Badiraguato city, Sinaloa state 29 March, sparking outcry, with critics noting that president has not met with victims of drug cartels. U.S. authorities 11 March reported arrest of over 500 suspected CJNG operatives in U.S., lauding operation as success against cartel; however, observers noted previous mass detentions failed to curb flow of drugs into U.S. or violence in Mexico. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, govt 28 March called on citizens to stay at home, but govt’s reliance on voluntary measures apart from banning of gatherings of more than 50 people, and López Obrador’s continued travelling sparked controversy. Concerns increased over economic impact of coronavirus amid fall in global oil prices, with peso 9-13 March falling 8.3% to historical low against dollar and analysts voicing fears that state-owned oil company PEMEX may face economic blow.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

3 Apr 2020
It’s business as usual [for drug cartels in Mexico] with a risk of further escalation, especially if at some point the armed forces are called away for pandemic control. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
7 Jan 2020
[In Mexico,] under active conflict & criminal control, basic state functions like gathering crime statistics, let alone searching for disappeared, are impossible. Twitter

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
6 Jun 2019
Any blow to the Mexican economy will pour oil into the fire of conflict, accentuating reasons for people to flee, and undermining the deterrence effect of President Trump's anti-migratory policy. Twitter

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
4 Jul 2018
[In Mexico] you have civilians affected by extortion and murder, ... you have criminal groups fighting one another, for drug trafficking routes, extortion rackets, theft of oil. You have state security forces fighting criminal groups, which will often lead to shootouts involved in the security operations as well. And you have extrajudicial killings by state forces involved in the fight against organised crime. TRT World

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean
8 Feb 2018
The repression of riots and the looting of stores [in Mexico] caused at least six deaths and thousands of arrests. The World Weekly

Froylán Enciso

Former Senior Analyst, Mexico
30 Nov 2017
The new [Mexican] criminal justice system seeks to reduce impunity and violations of the rights of the accused. [If the president were to abandon them, he would] repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. The World Weekly

Froylán Enciso

Former Senior Analyst, Mexico

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Also available in Español
Q&A / Latin America & Caribbean

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Also available in Español

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Building Peace in Mexico: Dilemmas Facing the López Obrador Government

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Also available in Español

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico