July 2, 2013
Washington Office on Latin America, 7/2/2013
In his electoral campaign and after being elected to office on July 2, 2012, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto promised a new direction for Mexico. Seven months into his presidency, how much has Mexico changed its course? In this Q & A, WOLA’s Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America Maureen Meyer addresses key questions about security, drug-related violence, human rights, and security cooperation with the United States.
Since taking office in December 2012, Peña Nieto has emphasized that his priorities are to reduce crime and violence in Mexico, focusing particularly on murder, kidnappings, and extortion. Coupled with this, Peña Nieto promised to focus attention on the root causes of violence. This was clearly laid out in the February launch of the National Program for the Social Prevention of Violence and Crime (Programa Nacional para la Prevención Social de la Violencia y la Delincuencia).
February 7, 2013
The Washington Office on Latin America and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute are pleased to invite you to a discussion on the current state of police reform in Mexico, issues that the Peña Nieto government must address to create strong and accountable federal security forces, and ways the United States might support these efforts.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 12 // 9am to 10:30am // at the Woodrow Wilson Center
For more information and to RSVP visit the event page, Reforming the Ranks.
January 24, 2013
By Adam Isacson and Maureen Meyer, 1/24/2013
Since 2011, WOLA staff have carried out research in six different zones of the U.S.-Mexican border, meeting with U.S. law enforcement officials, human rights and humanitarian groups, and journalists, as well as with Mexican officials and representatives of civil society and migrant shelters in Mexico. As part of this ongoing work, the authors spent the week of November 26-30, 2012 in south Texas, looking at security and migration trends along this section of the U.S.-Mexico border. Specifically, we visited Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico.
We found that unlike other sections of the border, the south Texas sections have seen an increase, not a decrease, in apprehensions, particularly of non-Mexican migrants; migrant deaths have dramatically increased; and there are fewer accusations of Border Patrol abuse of migrants. We also found that the Zetas criminal organization’s control over the area may be slipping and drug trafficking appears to have increased, yet these U.S. border towns are safer than they have been in decades. Lastly, in spite of the ongoing violence on the Mexican side of the border and the failure of the Mexican government to reform local and state police forces, U.S. authorities are increasingly repatriating Mexicans through this region, often making migrants easy prey for the criminal groups that operate in these border cities.
July 25, 2012
If you only listen to campaign debates, congressional hearings, and popular media, you may think that the U.S.-Mexico border is a “war zone,” where a neglectful federal government is letting migrants stream across the border while leaving U.S. citizens at the mercy of thugs. Too often, completely unsubstantiated, politicized claims are treated as facts. This polarizing debate fuels calls for massive increases in security spending and more force—even military deployments—along the border.
WOLA has dedicated some of our top experts to study what is really happening in the borderlands. Our border security project interviews Border Patrol, military and other law enforcement personnel, partner organizations, and local experts to assess the true security situation and the real impact of our current border security policies on migrants.
To make WOLA’s border research readily accessible—and respond more quickly to false or misleading claims—today WOLA is launching a new blog: Border Fact Check: Separating Rhetoric from Reality.
To check out WOLA’s new blog click on the link: Border Fact Check: Separating Rhetoric from Reality.
September 14, 2011
El muro fronterizo que divide a México y Estados Unidos eventualmente terminará por caer aseguró Gael García Bernal ayer al recibir el Premio Anual de Derechos Humanos de la Oficina en Washington para América Latina (WOLA).
En una ceremonia en la sede de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), en Washington, el protagonista de La Mala Educación dijo emocionado que las fronteras no son lo que, en general, piensa la gente, sino lugares de encuentro y esperanza.
July 20, 2011
CNN México, 7/20/11
Photo by Flikr user americanistadechiapas
El esfuerzo por promover un cambio en la sociedad a través de historias contadas en el cine ha hecho merecedora a la gira de documentales Ambulante del premio de Derechos Humanos de la Oficina para Asuntos Latinoamericanos en Washington (WOLA).
Durante la clausura de Ambulante este martes, la directora ejecutiva de WOLA, Joy Olson, señaló que es un honor tener al festival creado por los actores mexicanos Diego Luna y Gael García como uno de los premiados de este año, porque la raíz de la organización está en el concepto de contar historias del festival.
November 3, 2010
John Walsh, Washington Office on Latin America, 11/3/2010
The California ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana under state law was defeated at the polls Tuesday, garnering about 46 percent of the vote. Over the course of the campaign, the measure achieved notoriety in Latin America , and provoked anxiety on the part of the Colombian and Mexican governments in particular. WOLA has long promoted more effective and humane drug policies in the Americas, and in recent years we have seen the debate begin to open, not least inresponse to Prop 19. So what does Prop 19′s defeat foretell for the debate over alternatives to marijuana prohibition?
As a practical matter, the likely impact of Prop 19′s passage on Colombian and Mexican illicit drug production and trafficking operations would have been slight. But at the symbolic level, Prop 19 took on great importance, in light of the U.S. government’s role as chief architect and promoter of the “war on drugs,” including the marijuana prohibition regime embedded in the UN drug conventions. To be sure, marijuana legalization under state law – even a state as large as California – wouldn’t have immediate consequences for federal law and for the U.S. commitment to marijuana prohibition under the global drug control system. But the measure’s mere presence on the California ballot generated enormous attention in Latin America, so it’s fair to ask what the voting results may signify.
October 25, 2010
Eric Olson, AL DÍA: News and Analysis from the Mexico Institute,* 10/25/2010
Long recognized as one of the few countries in Latin America to avoid the trauma associated with military governments, Mexico is on the verge of a major national debate about the proper role of the military in its democracy, at a time when the country struggles against brutal and increasingly powerful organized crime. Read the rest of this entry »
October 5, 2010
Photo by Flickr user Thraxil
Los Angeles Times Blog, 10/5/2010
A new report on human rights abuses by Mexico’s military in the country’s ongoing armed conflict with drug traffickers depicts in stark terms the air of fear and impunity that have come to define the drug war, particularly in violence-torn Ciudad Juarez on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Human rights claims against the military have jumped by 1,000% since President Felipe Calderon dispatched the army in December 2006 to combat drug gangs, and a variety of institutional reforms are crucial to reversing the trend, says the report released Tuesday by the liberal Washington Office on Latin America.
Mexico’s Constitution stipulates that crimes against civilians by members of the military must be tried within civilian institutions, but Mexico’s Code of Military Justice has been “broadly interpreted” to “assign jurisdiction of military discipline to include or encompass any disciplinary action against a soldier,” said Maureen Meyer, main author of the WOLA report.