Mexico’s Rule of Law Crisis

November 18, 2014

11/16/14 Wall Street Journal 

gun - crime sceneWhat do the September disappearance of 43 university students from the custody of local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and new allegations of federal corruption in the awarding of public infrastructure contracts have in common? Answer: They both show that Mexico still has a huge problem enforcing the rule of law. The two developments have sparked a political crisis that could sink Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Enrique Peña Nieto ’s ambitious reform agenda if he doesn’t take quick and decisive action to restore confidence. Until now the president has been able to ignore Mexico’s legendary lawlessness. He has been riding an international wave of excitement around the opening of the energy sector, with few questions asked. But unless he wants to make common cause with the hard left—which thinks it has him on the ropes because of the missing students—he needs to admit his mistakes, purge his cabinet and make the rule of law job No. 1.

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Mexico: Violent Protests Hit Acapulco’s Tourism

November 13, 2014

11/12/14 New York Times 

Mexicana PlaneMexico’s president has tried to keep the issue of violence issue separate from his focus on the economy, but the two are converging as violent protests over 43 disappeared students squelch tourism in Acapulco just before a major holiday weekend. As Mexico prepares to commemorate its 1910 revolution Monday, hotels in the Pacific resort city have seen a wave of cancellations after demonstrators temporarily shut down the airport, blocked highways and attacked government and political offices in the southern state of Guerrero. Acapulco hotel occupancy rates are currently at 20 percent, well short of the 85 percent expected for this long weekend when Mexicans typically flock to the beaches, Joaquin Badillo, president of the Employers’ Association for Guerrero state, said Wednesday. More cancellations have been registered for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year for Acapulco tourism, and Badillo said one company that operates 10 hotels has cut about 200 temporary jobs in recent weeks.

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Organised crime could undermine benefits of Mexico’s energy reform programme

November 12, 2014

11/12/14 Financial Times

energy - oil pumpsHow much of a risk are Mexican drug lords and the country’s volatile security situation for the landmark energy reform? The head of one company that has a services contract with Mexican state giant Pemex smiles ruefully. At its worst point – some three to four years ago – a full 40 per cent of the acreage the company is working on was a no-go area, and that was despite some of the processes being automated, says the executive, who asked not to be named. Things have improved somewhat, but it is all relative: the proportion of the area his company is working on that can only be visited with the army, in helicopters, has shrunk to 20 per cent. “Security will be a problem,” says the executive, highlighting the elephant in the room when it comes to the industry’s otherwise rapturous reception of Mexico’s energy reform.

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Op-Ed: Mexico’s security crisis and the role of the private sector

November 4, 2014

11/03/14 Financial Times

protests by Edu-TouristMexico has had several years of bad news on the security front. After decades of peace, the tide changed dramatically in about 2007. History will determine whether conditions at the time justified a decision of such magnitude; the reality is that the launching of an all-out war against drug cartels in that year sparked an upsurge in violence, murder and insecurity not seen since the post-Revolution years of the 1920s. The deterioration was, in many instances, concentrated in specific regions or states. But it also generated incidents that speak of a much more profound problem concerning the roots, scope and dimension of the criminal gangs and cartels. In particular, the incidents of September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero, when several people were killed and wounded and 43 students were kidnapped and remain missing, have brought worldwide visibility to the issues and put a cloud over the perceived success of structural reforms that were passed in many areas this year (including education, energy, telecommunications, antitrust and electoral reforms).

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A challenge for Mexican president as parents wait for news of missing students

October 16, 2014

10/16/14 The Christian Century

mexico-securityIn 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, Wood said.

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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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Now for the Hard Part: Renewing Regional Cooperation on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

September 23, 2014

09/22/14 Mexico Institute, Canada Institute and the Canadian International Council

wc_vert_colorCritical infrastructure security and resilience (CISR) has been one of the core priorities for North American regional security cooperation since 9/11. More than a dozen years later, extensive consultation within and between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has finally begun to generate some tangible results, including ongoing information-sharing, the development of cross-border emergency response procedures, and joint exercises. These have been touted by some as signs of meaningful progress, but the nature of the results says more about the weakeness of the regional effort than its strength.

To read the report…


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