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Mexico

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

Legislative elections marked setback for ruling party amid ongoing violence by criminal groups. Ruling MORENA party 6 June lost absolute majority in lower house of Congress; together with allied Ecologist Green Party and Labour Party, MORENA still holds more than 50% of seats. President López Obrador 8 June said he would negotiate with Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to secure constitutional changes in electoral law, energy sector and security, which require two-thirds majority; 16 June said he would seek constitutional reform to formally incorporate National Guard into armed forces before 2023. MORENA also secured majority of municipalities, and won 11 out of 15 governorships, thus becoming country’s primary political force at state level. Violent incidents continued in lead-up to elections, including ambush that killed five people transporting voting materials in Chiapas state (south) 5 June. Consultancy firm Etellekt 21 June reported total of 102 politicians, including 36 candidates, killed since Sept 2020. In days following vote, demonstrators contested results on grounds of alleged electoral fraud and vote-buying notably in Tlaxcala state (centre), where MORENA won most mayorships previously held by PRI. Meanwhile, federal judge 15 June sentenced former mayor of Chínipas city (Chihuahua state in north), Schultz Alcaraz, to eight years in prison after Alcaraz admitted to having abetted assassination of journalist Miroslava Breach in 2017. In Tamaulipas state (north), unidentified gunmen 19 June killed at least 18 people among whom four drug lords in Reynosa city near U.S. border. In Zacatecas state (north), suspected shootout between two rival drug cartels 24-25 June killed 18. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 6-8 June visited Guatemala and Mexico on her first trip abroad since taking office, met with López Obrador in capital Mexico City; both sides agreed to continue to jointly address root causes of migration from Central America. Harris 25 June visited U.S.-Mexico border.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

1 Jul 2021
The problem in Mexico is still being reduced by most as a turf war between cartels, while it is more of an internal violent conflict. The New Humanitarian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
8 Dec 2020
Cartels’ brand names fade away eventually. [But] all of those [other] networks stay in place. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
25 Aug 2020
The impotence of Mexican government security forces has been made particularly evident in the events of the last few months. The New Humanitarian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
2 Aug 2020
[The arrest of José Antonio Yépez] is basically a short-lived P.R. victory, but it doesn’t provide a solution. The big worry is that there is no backing in terms of a more cohesive security strategy. The New York Times

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
13 Jul 2020
While much of the narrative around violence in Mexico focuses on drug trafficking and cartels, the "on-the-ground realities are far more complex. Al Jazeera

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
20 Apr 2020
But in Mexico, armed clashes between rival crime factions continued throughout March and early April, and 2,585 homicides were registered last month alone. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico

Latest Updates

Latin America’s Tough Year Ahead

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh, Richard Atwood and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group’s Latin America Director, talk about COVID-19’s devastation, polarisation and populism in the region, as well as the Venezuela crisis and violence in Mexico.

Time to End the Lethal Limbo of the U.S.-Mexican Drug Wars

The failure of the “war on drugs” – now a welter of spreading conflicts – is a U.S.-Mexican co-production. Washington should stop pushing Mexico City to throw ever more military force at organised crime. Instead, it should help its southern neighbour find solutions tailored to each locale.

Also available in Español

How Many Criminal Groups Are There in Mexico?

The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. This has come at the cost of thousands of lives, with last year being the deadliest on record. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.

Una guerra cotidiana: Guerrero y los retos a la paz en México (evento online, 10 de junio de 2020)

Panel en línea con la participación de los expertos de Crisis Group Falko Ernst y Jane Esberg, quienes presentan sus últimos informes sobre la violencia en México, comentarios a cargo del destacado investigador y columnista Sergio Aguayo y moderado por la subdirectora del Programa de América Latina y el Caribe, Renata Segura.

More than Cartels: Counting Mexico’s Crime Rings

The “war on drugs” has not smashed Mexican organised crime but broken it into smaller fragments that fight each other for turf. The sheer difficulty of counting the criminal groups underscores the scale of the government’s challenge in protecting the public.

Also available in Español

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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