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
Violence continued unabated, including, in Veracruz state (south), where group of at least 30 armed men 20 Nov murdered mayor-elect of Hidalgotitlan municipality; unidentified gunmen 24 Nov killed mayor of Ixhuatlan de Madero with four others near state capital Xalapa. Special Veracruz prosecutor investigating gender-based and sexual violence was murdered in Pánuco 27 Nov. In Baja California Sur, state ombudsman was murdered 20 Nov in city of La Paz; another 28 people were killed in city of Los Cabos previous weekend 18-20 Nov. University of Texas 6 Nov and El Colegio de Mexico 21 Nov released reports on Los Zetas cartel’s penetration of Coahuila and Veracruz state govts, including reports of bribery of former governors and army officers. National Commission on Human Rights 1 Nov said 150 overpopulated prisons in eight states are “time bombs” that could spark riots and major violence; commission next day called on federal govt to end impunity for crimes against journalists and provide additional resources for their protection. New report from Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA) 8 Nov revealed that only sixteen out of 505 open cases of alleged human rights violations by Mexican armed forces between 2012 and 2016 led to court sentences. President Peña Nieto 16 Nov signed into law new measures against enforced disappearances, including creation of national commission on disappearances and $25mn funding for search efforts. Media 2 Nov reported opposition dropped attempts to reinstate special prosecutor for electoral crimes, who was dismissed late Oct for publically discussing ongoing investigation of Peña Nieto’s electoral campaign members allegedly involved in corruption scandal.
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 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 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