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
Secretariat of Public Security 22 Feb reported 2,156 homicides in Jan, making it most violent month since 1997; also reported homicides in most deadly cities including U.S. border city Tijuana and Los Cabos, both in Baja California; and in south, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo in Oaxaca state, Acapulco and Chilapa in Guerrero state, and Manzanillo and Tecomán in Colima state; rising violence attributed to fight for control of territory by Cartel Jalisco New Generation and political violence in run-up to 1 July election. Francisco Rojas, federal deputy from Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and possible mayoral candidate in Mexico state, shot dead 6 Feb, bringing number of politicians murdered since Dec to at least twelve. National Electoral Institute reported states that could be especially vulnerable to political violence are: Chihuahua, Guerrero, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and some regions of Veracruz. Six people died after attack by ten hitmen on restaurant in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco (west) 8 Feb, possibly in revenge for arrest of several Cartel Jalisco New Generation leaders. In west, Nayarit state authorities 15 Feb reported discovery of suspected remains of two federal agents abducted by Cartel Jalisco New Generation. Six people were killed in 24 hours 15 Feb in areas around Guadalajara, Jalisco. Five decapitated bodies found in Guachochi, Chihuahua (north) 7 Feb. Murder of two Catholic priests in Guerrero 5 Feb spurred Church authorities to call for investigation to denounce targeted violence against priests. Extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations continued unabated. Local weekly Riodoce 6 Feb revealed that group of marines had executed four people in Culiacán, Sinaloa (north west) previous week. Attacks against human rights activists, journalists and migrants also ongoing. Three members of Committee for the Defence of Indigenous Rights killed in Oaxaca 13 Feb. Blogger, comedian and journalist Pamika Montenegro, aka “Nana Pelucas”, murdered in Acapulco, Guerrero 5 Feb.
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 repression of riots and the looting of stores [in Mexico] caused at least six deaths and thousands of arrests.
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 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 The New York Times
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