April 15, 2013
By Viridiana Rios, The Washington Post, 4/12/13
The U.S. government has spent $1.6 billion to help Mexico end a war between drug cartels that has killed 63,000 people south of our border in the past six years. Yet many of our assumptions about this war are wrong.
As part of a study tracking the behavior of Mexico’s organized-crime groups, a colleague and I created an algorithm that uses Google to explore blogs, newspapers and news-related Web content and extract detailed data about how Mexican drug cartels operate. Our tool reads everything published and indexed as part of Google News and collects all the information the Web contains about the activities of the cartels, including their routes of expansion, since the 1990s. Our discoveries shocked us and surprised the U.S. officials who reviewed our findings.
April 12, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
Last Friday, some 2,000 teachers protesting the education reforms proposed by the Peña Nieto administration blocked the highway between Mexico City and Acapulco for several hours. Federal policemen forced them off the roads, but future clashes are likely. Mexican officials announced homicide rates are down about 14% compared to the same period last year. Media outlets including the Los Angeles Times remained highly skeptical of such claims, and directed attention to the growing vigilante crisis affecting parts of the country, as well as the violence suffered by journalists covering organized crime.
Optimistic news pieces, however, continued to surface. Real Clear Politics referred to Mexico as a “stable, politically diverse neighbor.” American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies remarked that while “Brazil was everyone’s favorite two years ago, Mexico is now being hailed as a hot performer.” And in an article for The New York Times, Eduardo Porter argued Mexico’s austerity experience following the 1982 financial crisis holds lessons for struggling European nations today.
On Wednesday, thousands of people gathered outside the U.S. Capitol and across the United States in support of immigration reform. A bipartisan bill led by eight senators – which Politico reports may be released next Tuesday – will define ‘border security’ as “100% awareness of when people cross the most trafficked sections of the Southwest border,” as well as the ability to stop 90% of unauthorized traffic. In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, the Mexico Institute’s Christopher Wilson argued that more attention should be placed on the “staffing, infrastructure and technology needs of ports of entry themselves” in order to secure the border and enhance America’s economic competitiveness. A conservative think-tank released a study arguing immigration reform would boost economic growth and reduce the federal deficit.
Read the rest of this entry »
April 11, 2013
The New York Times, 4/10/13
The new government here, which has complained that Mexico’s image has been sullied by persistent reports of violent crime, presented data on Wednesday that it said showed that murders related to organized crime had dropped sharply.
Though analysts raised concerns about how the information was compiled, the government said that since Dec. 1, when President Enrique Peña Nieto took office, there had been 4,249 homicides that bore the markings of organized crime. That was down 685, or about 14 percent, from the 4,934 over the same period a year earlier.
March 8, 2013
By Vanda Felbab-Brown, International Drug Policy Consortium, February 2013
In “Focused Deterrence, Selective Targeting, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime: Concepts and Practicalities,” published by the International Drug Policy Consortium in February 2013, Vanda Felbab-Brown first outlines the logic and problems of zero-tolerance and undifferentiated targeting in law enforcement policies. Second, she lays out the key theoretical concepts of the law-enforcement strategies of focused-deterrence and selective targeting and reviews some of their applications, as in Operation Ceasefire in Boston in the 1990s and urban-policing operations in Rio de Janeiro during the 2000s decade. Third, she analyses the implementation challenges that selective targeting and focused-deterrence strategies have encountered, particularly outside of the United States. And finally, she discusses some key dilemmas in designing selective targeting and focused-deterrence strategies to fight crime.
Read the full report here…
March 5, 2013
Sergio Alcocer, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister responsible for the United States and Canada, said the focus on tackling the cartels and border security meant many of the benefits of Mexico’s ties with the United States had been ignored. “The U.S. population needs to see Mexico is an important part of daily life,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
“We’re not just a geographical accident, we’re not a source of problems, on the contrary. We’re an area of opportunity and a source of how problems can be resolved.” Too often, cross-border debates on security and immigration had obscured the valuable contribution made by Mexican migrants to the United States, while Mexico had not made the most of its northern neighbor in modernizing its economy, Alcocer said.
March 5, 2013
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
Fortunes forever rise and fall, but perhaps none so fast as those of drug lords. On Monday, Forbes magazine released its annual list of the world’s richest people, and for the first time since 2009, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman did not make the cut.
Guzman is the boss of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking operations. His nickname, which means “shorty,” matches his 5-foot-6-inch frame, though he has climbed to great heights in the drug business. Forbes had previously estimated his net worth at $1 billion.
February 28, 2013
Global Post, 2/28/2013
Neat, freshly painted buildings and a renovated church line the central square. Shiny SUVs rest curbside. Some lack license plates, as if the law doesn’t apply. Mansions crown the surrounding hills. Badiraguato, a town of 7,000 in Sinaloa state, shouldn’t have such wealth. It’s among the poorest municipalities in Mexico. But you’re better off not asking questions here.
This is a secretive place, hot and quiet in the Sierra Madre foothills. There’s an army barracks, but soldiers mostly stay inside. It’s the heart of drug country, home to Mexico’s most powerful criminal syndicate: the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
February 22, 2013
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
Al Jazeera, 2/22/2013
Guatemalan authorities are investigating whether Mexican drug cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was killed in a clash between traffickers and its forces in Peten near the border with Mexico. Officials on Thursday said fingerprints and photos were taken to determine whether Mexico’s most wanted man was dead in the gunfight in a jungle area of the Peten Department. The information was being cross-checked with Mexican authorities.
“The first information we have is that it could be him,” Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez told local radio, cautioning that authorities could not be “100 percent” certain. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said he had no information yet to confirm whether Guzman was killed and that he was “hoping to get some information” soon.
February 20, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 2/19/2013
A Facebook page in Mexico has notched tens of thousands of followers for posting detailed but unconfirmed updates on security risks in the drug-war hot zone of Tamaulipas state. Now, purported assassins have declared a bounty on the head of the page’s anonymous administrator. In response, the Facebook author said the page would not stop gathering and publishing information on shootouts and highway blockades because the Tamaulipas authorities and local news outlets offer nearly zero updates on so-called “risk situations.”
The person behind Valor por Tamaulipas posted a photograph last week of a reward notice that was said to have begun circulating in several Tamaulipas cities calling for information leading to the page’s author or relatives. The flier makes an offer of 600,000 pesos, or about $47,000, for information and includes a cellphone number with a Tamaulipas area code.
February 19, 2013
The New York Times, 2/18/2013
The new Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, campaigned on a promise to reduce the violence spawned by the drug trade and organized crime, and to shift the talk about his nation away from cartels and killings. But even as he rolled out a crime prevention program last week and declared it the government’s new priority, a rash of high-profile mayhem threatened to undercut his message and raise the pressure to more forcefully confront the lawlessness that bedeviled his predecessor.
The southwestern state of Guerrero, long prone to periodic eruptions of violence, has proved a challenge once again. Gang rapes of several women have occurred in and around the faded resort town of Acapulco, including an attack this month on a group from Spain that garnered worldwide headlines, and an ambush killed nine state police officers in a mountainous no-man’s land. Out of frustration that the state was not protecting them, rural towns in Guerrero have taken up arms to police themselves.