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
Criminal violence, attacks against human right activists, migrants and journalists, new corruption allegations against President Peña Nieto’s administration and national discussion on violence against women dominated security concerns during month. Governor of Guanajuato state (centre) established sole military command of state police 14 Sept after Jalisco New Generation Cartel, in clashes with Zetas, murdered five policemen and two others in Apaseo el Alto 4 Sept; three policemen in Coroneo 7 Sept; and former mayor of Pueblo Nuevo 5 Sept. Commando killed five people in bar in Irapuato (Guanajuato) 13 Sept; journalist Juan Carlos Hernandez Ríos from Guanajuato murdered 5 Sept; three decapitated bodies abandoned in public park in capital of Veracruz state (south east) 13 Sept. Rights activist Jerry Barceló murdered in Tabasco state (south east) 2 Sept; NGO network Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos 5 Sept reported 106 rights activists killed since 2012, 81 victims of forced disappearance, over 1,000 attacked. Detectives collaborating with organisation representing families of victims of disappearance 15 Sept reported discovery of 149,000 fragments of human bodies in mass grave in García, Nuevo León (north east). More than 400 people killed by two earthquakes: first on 8 Sept, killing around 100 in southern states Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Tabasco; second 19 Sept killing at least 340 people, many in capital. U.S. President Trump’s 5 Sept announcement of his decision to end policy deferring deportation of children of undocumented migrants exacerbated bilateral tensions.
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