Plan Tamaulipas: A New Security Strategy for a Troubled State

December 11, 2014

By Christopher Wilson and Eugenio Weigend

photoEscudo_TAMPS_iti_Tula_STULA_Itinerario_CerrodelaCruz_HEADER_950x434[1]_0Recognizing that the situation in Tamaulipas had reached crisis level, in May, 2014, Mexico’s top security officials met with their state level counterparts in Tamaulipas to unveil a new security strategy. At the heart of the conflict between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, Tamaulipas suffers from high rates of violent crime, including the nation’s highest for kidnapping, large-scale cases of migrant abuse and extremely weak state and local level law enforcement institutions and governance. By sending significant additional resources to Tamaulipas, the federal government made a strong and much needed commitment to support efforts to restore public security in the state. This short report analyzes the new strategy, describes the challenging local context, and offers a few recommendations that could serve to strengthen the effort.

Read the publication here.


What Mexico’s President Must Do

December 11, 2014

12/10/2014 The New York Times

Enrique Pena NietoThousands of young people have been marching in the streets of Mexico since the kidnapping and murder of 43 students (now confirmed by the DNA of a burned body) from a college in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero. According to Mexico’s attorney general, the crime was committed by professional killers working for a narco- gang and under the orders of the former mayor of the town of Iguala, who was a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although most of these criminals, including the mayor and his wife, have been arrested, the student protesters are blaming the Peña Nieto government of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and questioning its legitimacy. They are even demanding that the legally elected president resign from office.

Although most Mexicans may not support so extreme a demand as resignation, the popularity level of the president has sunk quite low, and not only because of the slow response to this atrocious crime. The suspicion of a conflict of interest over his wife’s partial purchase of a luxury mansion has further clouded the situation for Mr. Peña Nieto. Distrustful of government and fed up with the violence and insecurity unleashed by the drug cartels, Mexicans feel a profound moral and political resentment at a situation that those of us who struggled for the coming of democracy at the turn of the millennium never expected to confront. While there have been incidents of violence among the protesters, most of the demonstrations have been peaceful but intensely angry. And their anger is justified.

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Mexico’s embattled government poised to unveil law and order measures

November 26, 2014

11/25/14 Reuters 

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Following mass protests in Mexico over the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers two months ago, the government will unveil measures this week designed to improve policing and fix a failing justice system, lawmakers said on Tuesday. Senate leader Miguel Barbosa of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution said the measures would focus on issues like streamlining the chain of command in the police as well as improving the penal system and access to justice. The government would present the plans on Thursday, Barbosa said in an interview with Mexican radio. Ricardo Pacheco, a lawmaker in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party who heads the justice committee in the lower house of Congress, said the plan was to give the state greater powers to combat organized crime and violence.

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In ‘untamed Mexico’ a mass grave and a challenge for a president

October 15, 2014

10/12/14 Yahoo News

duncan-wood

In fact, in his nearly two years in office Peña Nieto has rarely spoken about violence – an issue that consumed President Calderón’s agenda, including a public crackdown on organized crime and drug cartels. The former president’s approval rating wavered as he often found the media message spinning out of his control. Pena Nieto has taken a markedly different approach, at least publicly. “The conversation about organized crime changed significantly when Enrique Peña Nieto took over,” says Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute and the Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Washington-DC-based think tank. Peña Nieto has deemphasized security as a feature of the “Mexican reality,” and focused on the country’s economic potential, says Mr. Wood.

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Peña Nieto Confronts Renewed Violence in Mexico

October 6, 2014

10/03/14 Brookings

federal police mexico

The government of Peña Nieto changed the national discourse on organized crime and violence in Mexico. It requested that the media banish homicides from its front pages in order to calm citizens’ anxieties and assure foreign investors that the government held control over insecurity. The means to assert this control transferred greater autonomy to the armed forces, as well as to state and municipal police, institutions lacking appropriate training for law enforcement. In September 2014, both the armed forces and the municipal police are alleged to have killed and caused the disappearance of groups of citizens. These violent acts, as well as the murder of prominent politicians, have raised the specter that a new level of violence has returned to Mexico – this time carried out by official bodies as well as organized crime.

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Mexico arrests 32 policemen for alleged organised crime ties

July 29, 2014

07/28/14 Telegraph

police mexico scazonMore than 30 police officers have been arrested in Mexico for alleged organised crime ties and possible involvement in the killing of fellow cops, authorities said on Sunday.

Those detained include a former top public safety chief from the town of Tarimbaro, an ex-commander of the same unit and 18 more active duty agents, a public safety source in the troubled state of Michoacan said.

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Legal U.S. Pot Won’t Bring Peace to Mexico

January 22, 2014

marijuana leafBloomberg, 01/21/2014

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has had a legal marijuana market. The same will soon be true in Washington State, once retail licenses are issued. Other states, such as California and Oregon, will likely follow suit over the next three years.

So does this creeping legalization of marijuana in the U.S. spell doom for the Mexican drug cartels? Not quite. The illegal marijuana trade provides Mexican organized crime with about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year. That’s not chump change, but according to a number of estimates, it represents no more than a third of gross drug export revenue. Cocaine is still the cartels’ biggest money-maker and the revenue accruing from heroin and methamphetamine aren’t trivial. Moreover, Mexican gangs also obtain income from extortion, kidnapping, theft and various other types of illegal trafficking. Losing the marijuana trade would be a blow to their finances, but it certainly wouldn’t put them out of business.

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