NEW PUBLICATION: Violence and Insecurity in Guerrero

February 5, 2015

By Chris Kyle

Resilient Communities Series15This paper is a continuation of the series Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, a multiyear effort by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego to analyze the obstacles to and opportunities for improving citizen security in Mexico.

Insecurity and violence associated with organized criminal activity are pervasive in Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero.  The state’s homicide rate is the highest in the country and extortion and kidnapping are commonplace.  For perpetrators, there is near complete impunity.  The state is divided into territories within which either drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) or community policing networks exercise control over local policing functions.  Local, state, or federal authorities occasionally join this competition, but for the most part policing powers are held by others.  In rural areas competition between groups of traffickers over the state’s prodigious narcotics output has created violent no-man’s-lands in buffer zones between territories controlled by rival groups.  In cities violence is mostly a byproduct of efforts to establish and preserve monopolies in extortion, kidnapping, and retail contraband markets.  Despite claims to the contrary by state and federal authorities, there has been no discernible improvement in public security in recent months or years.

Restraining the violence in Guerrero will require that state authorities make a systematic effort to address two existing realities that sustain the criminal activities producing violence.  Thus, this paper examines the security situation in the state of Guerrero, including the operation of drug trafficking organizations, and proposes possible solutions to the security crisis.

Read the paper here.


Parents of Murdered Mexican Students Seek Justice at UN Watchdog

February 3, 2015

By Stephanie Nebehay, 2/2/2015

The Associated Press October 22, 2014

The Associated Press October 22, 2014

The parents of Mexican students believed murdered by a drugs gang appealed to the United Nations on Monday for help in seeking justice, saying they had no faith in the government’s ability to investigate the crime.

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government said last week that the 43 trainee teachers who disappeared four months ago were killed on the orders of a drug cartel who mistook them for members of a rival gang.

Read more…


UPCOMING EVENT! The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: 2014 in Review and the Year Ahead

January 15, 2015

security_lockWHEN: Tuesday, January 20th, 2:00pm-5:30pm

WHERE: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

2014 added new dimensions to the security picture. Despite significant reductions in violence in certain parts of the country, nine of Mexico’s cities ranked in the top 50 most violent cities worldwide, according to a study carried out last year by the Mexican organization Security, Justice, and Peace (Seguridad, Justicia y Paz). Meanwhile, the Mexican federal government intervened in Michoacán to address conflicts between vigilante self defense groups and local organized crime groups. The tragic killing and disappearance of student protestors in Guerrero, as well as the discovery of mass graves containing dozens of human remains, provoked massive outrage. Another, less measurable impact of organized crime-related violence has been the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Mexican citizens from their homes, as estimated by a number of human rights organizations.

To provide a careful examination of these security challenges, the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host its Second Annual Mexican Security Review, a forum with leading policy analysts from the United States and Mexico from 2:00pm to 5:30pm on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Of particular interest will be the available indicators of crime trends, analysis of the specific policy measures of the Peña Nieto administration, and the efforts of civil society to confront recent security problems in Mexico. Speakers include Mexico Institute staff, David Shirk, Alejandro Hope, Steven Dudley, and others.

To RSVP for the event, click here.


“Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence” Briefing Paper Series

January 14, 2015

Resilient Communities Series15This briefing series is a continuation of the project Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, a multiyear effort by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego to analyze the obstacles to and opportunities for improving citizen security in Mexico.

The first part of the series is a paper written by Sandra Ley on citizens’ political participation in the midst of Mexico’s current security crisis. The second piece, by Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David Shirk, discusses the efforts and challenges of the Mexican government and civil society to work together to establish order in Michoacán, a state that has long served as an important production and transit zone for drug traffickers.

Read the papers here:

1. Violence and Citizen Participation in Mexico: From the Polls to the Streets – By Sandra Ley

2. Citizen Security in Michoacán – By Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David Shirk


NEW PUBLICATION: Citizen Security in Michoacán

January 13, 2015

By Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David Shirk

Resilient Communities Series15Arguably the most intractable security issue facing the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has been the dynamic and dangerous situation in the state of Michoacán, located on the Pacific in the southwestern portion of the country. During Peña Nieto’s first two years in office, the state has seen a significant increase in violence and criminal activities; the emergence, evolution, and internal struggles of armed “self-defense” groups (grupos de autodefensa,commonly referred to as autodefensas); and concerted federal government efforts to gain control and restore order in certain parts of the state, particularly in the state’s western Tierra Caliente region. Developments continue to unfold as criminal organizations, self-defense groups, and government all vie for control of Michoacán, a state that has long served as an important production and transit zone for drug traffickers.

While certain crime indicators—notably homicide—have fallen significantly throughout much of Mexico since 2011, Michoacán is one of the states where problems of crime and violence have been most intractable. It is also one of the places where citizen mobilization has manifested most visibly through vigilantism, with entire communities rising up to take the law into their own hands because of the real or perceived inability of authorities to address the problem of organized crime. Over the course of 2014, the worsening situation in Michoacán led the Mexican government to intervene heavily and try to regain the trust of the citizenry. This report therefore pays close attention to the efforts and challenges of the Mexican government and civil society to work together to establish order in Michoacán, offering important insights and recommendations for continued progress to that end.

Read the publication here…


Mexico Police Held Over Abduction of Journalist Sanchez

January 9, 2015

1/8/2015 BBC News

police mexico scazonThirteen municipal police officers are being held in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz over the kidnapping of a journalist on 2 January.

Moises Sanchez was abducted from his home by armed men on 2 January.

Mr Sanchez works for a newspaper in the city of Medellin and is known for his coverage of drug-related violence.

The arrests come amid a series of horrific disappearances and murders in which the security forces are alleged to be involved.

Read more…


Human Rights Crisis in Mexico Demands Stronger Response from Mexican Government

December 10, 2014

12/9/2014 Washington Office on Latin America

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

On December 6, students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero announced that the remains of Alexander Mora Venancio had been identified. Alexander, along with 42 other students, disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26, 2014 at the hands of municipal police who were working on behalf of the local mayor, and who then handed the students over to a criminal group. The identification of Alexander’s remains came after over two months of an investigation into the students’ whereabouts; during this time numerous mass graves were discovered in the area. The whereabouts of the other 42 students remain unknown. This tragic case and the inability of the Mexican government to provide their families and Mexican society with prompt and clear information about the students’ whereabouts have unleashed a wave of massive protests in the country.

Read More…


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