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
Inter- and intra- criminal organisation killings intensified following Jan extradition of Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán to U.S.. Dámaso “El Licenciado” López and Guzmán’s sons Iván Archivaldo and Alfredo reportedly fighting to gain control of Sinaloa, while fighting continues between Sinaloa and Beltrán Leyva and other criminal organisations for control of Sinaloa illegal drug production and Pacific trafficking routes to U.S.. Over 200 murders reported since 1 Jan in Sinaloa alone. Marines 9 Feb killed twelve suspected members of Beltrán Leyva, including their reputed leader in Nayarit and parts of Jalisco. U.S. 12 Feb leaked information on growing power of Jalisco New Generation Cartel in battle to control trafficking through Ciudad Juárez and U.S. drugs trade. Defence Minister Salvador Cienfuegos 12 Feb announced more military deployments for Sinaloa security strategy, despite recent evidence showing military strategies increase violence rates. PRI deputies 13 Feb tried to fast-track new Internal Security Law to provide legal framework for military use of force and involvement in public security and prosecutorial activities; National Commission for Human Rights, scholars and civil society organisations 14 Feb made successful call for further discussion of bill. Official crime data showed 2016 violence involving organised criminal groups and federal operations fighting them reached levels comparable to worst years of govt’s “war” on drugs and crime launched in 2006. Human rights organisations 5 Feb denounced Marines’ alleged kidnapping of five members of community police force in indigenous town Santa María Ostula before handing them over to Knight Templars; two more kidnapped two days later, released in exchange for weapons. Attacks on press and human rights advocates continued; indigenous Choréachi community in Chihuahua 1 Feb revealed murder of indigenous rights defender Juan Ontiveros Ramos. FM Luis Videgaray voiced concerns to his visiting U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson late Feb over new U.S. policies, including to expel to Mexico all illegal immigrants crossing border regardless of nationality.
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