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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

Criminal violence remained at record levels while govt faced scrutiny for COVID-19 response. In Guanajuato state (centre), armed attack on drug rehabilitation centre 1 July killed 27 in Irapuato town; attack reportedly part of territorial battle between Jalisco Cartel New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel over drug routes and retail markets. In Tamaulipas state (south), army 3 July killed twelve people, allegedly members of Cartel of the Northeast, in Nuevo Laredo city, while criminal group Zetas Vieja Escuela 6-9 July reportedly carried out several attacks on food company delivery vehicles in state capital Ciudad Victoria. Criticism of President López Obrador’s austerity program and lack of economic response to COVID-19 persisted amid concerns that rising poverty levels could boost recruitment by armed groups; meanwhile govt continued its partial economic reopening amid steadily rising number of virus infections and deaths. Federal State Attorney’s Office 7 July announced it had identified remains of one of 43 Ayotzinapa teaching college students who disappeared in 2014, accused former President Peña Nieto’s administration of covering up state involvement; Federal Search Commission 13 July said at least 79,602 persons have disappeared since 2006. In first trip abroad as president, López Obrador 8 July visited U.S. President Trump, praising Washington’s respect of “Mexico’s sovereignty”; observers criticised comments, pointing to Trump’s use of anti-Mexican sentiment for electoral gain and forcing of Mexico into hardline anti-migration position. U.S. authorities same day detained former Chihuahua state (north) governor César Duarte for alleged links to organised crime and began extradition process. Former head of state-owned oil company PEMEX Emilio Lozoya arrived in Mexico 17 July to face corruption charges following extradition from Spain; amid reports Lozoya’s testimony may implicate Peña Nieto, López Obrador same day reiterated refusal to pursue legal cases against former presidents.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
14 Apr 2020
These [armed] groups [in Mexico] are trying to be seen as catering materially and providing a notion of security in places where they are also directly preying on the population [...]. Washington Post

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
3 Apr 2020
It’s business as usual [for drug cartels in Mexico] with a risk of further escalation, especially if at some point the armed forces are called away for pandemic control. The Guardian

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
7 Jan 2020
[In Mexico,] under active conflict & criminal control, basic state functions like gathering crime statistics, let alone searching for disappeared, are impossible. Twitter

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico

Latest Updates

Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas

As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.

Also available in Español

Mexico’s Hydra-headed Crime War

It may seem that Mexico’s crime war, which has left over 100,000 dead in its wake, could not get any worse. But interviews with gunmen in deadly Tierra Caliente show that it can, as criminal organisations break into smaller and smaller parts, driving up the death toll.

Also available in Español

Treating Mexico’s Epidemic of Violence under the López Obrador Government

Combatting organised crime has been the centrepiece of President López Obrador’s governing platform, but murder rates in 2019 are set to reach an all-time high. In this excerpt from the first update of our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support the Mexican government’s turn toward comprehensive security reforms and peacebuilding policies. 

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – First Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The Watch List Updates include situations identified in the annual Watch List and/or a new focus of concern.

Our People

Falko Ernst

Senior Analyst, Mexico
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