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.
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.
Originally published in Esglobal
Originally published in Miami Herald
Amid ongoing violence, officials 23 April reported at least 35 people killed in gang-related violence in single weekend, including twelve in Sinaloa state, nine in gun battle in Michoacán state. In Guerrero, authorities registered 21 murders 8 and 9 April alone, while Democratic Revolution Party leader Demetrio Saldivar was killed by unknown persons in Chilpancingo 19 April. Authorities recorded 2,020 murders in March, highest monthly figure since peak year 2011. In Morelos state, attorney general’s office stated they had found 57 human remains in Jojutla mass grave 4 April. National Commission on Human Rights in 6 April report revealed local attorney offices officially recognised 855 mass graves and disinterred remains of 1,548 corpses 2007-2016; also reported official number of disappeared persons has reached 30,000. Human Rights NGOs 4 April reported that since 2009 at least 310,000 people have been forcibly displaced because of violence. Legislative period ended 30 April without conclusive discussion on Internal Security Law due to criticisms over lack of check and balances for armed forces in their proposed public security responsibilities; followed further incident of alleged involvement of armed forces in extrajudicial killings of two U.S. tourists in Tamaulipas 4 April; Navy denied allegations it was involved in killings. Violence against Central American immigrants, women, journalists and human rights/indigenous defenders continued. Six immigrants from Honduras kidnapped, tortured and mutilated in Veracruz 3 April. Norte newspaper from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, 5 April announced it was closing, citing impossible working conditions for independent journalists as result of criminal violence. Journalist Max Rodríguez Palacios, from La Paz, Baja California, killed 14 April. Former Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte, wanted on corruption and organised crime charges, arrested in Guatemala 15 April; former Tamaulipas Governor Tomás Yarrington, wanted on corruption and organised crime charges in Mexico and U.S., arrested in Italy 9 April.
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 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