Five Security Priorities for Mexico

1/27/2016 Viridiana Rios, The Expert Take

expert I (2)The Mexico Institute of The Wilson Center gathered a group of academics and experts on security issues, to discuss how Mexico’s security panorama has changed over the last year. The consensus is clear: Mexico’s violence issues are reviving. 

Homicides in Mexico increased by 11% during the last year, reversing the decline in violent crime that had started in 2012 (SNSP 2016). Mexico finished 2015 having about 46 homicides per day, 4 more than the 42 homicides per day that the country had in 2014. To put this number in perspective, from 2012 to 2014, on average, the total number of homicides has declined by about 2,400 every year, but in 2015 it increased by 1,360.

It is time for Mexico to take action. The last time that Mexico saw its homicide rate begin to tick up, rising from a low point in 2007, it took just three years for homicides to double (SNSP 2016). From 2007 to 2010, homicides increased from 10,253 to 20,680 in Mexico as a result of the fracture of large drug trafficking organizations into smaller rival ones. Mexico has still not fully recovered from such a spike in violence. The country is still 66% more violent than it was in 2007.

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Killings surge in Mexico state at tip of Baja

11/26/14 Washington Post 

bajacaliforniasurThe normally bucolic, vacationer-crowded state at the tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula has become a battleground, with dozens of killings in a power struggle following the capture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman nearly a year ago. The bloodshed has been concentrated in La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur state. In the latest killings, two men bound, gagged and showing signs of torture were dumped onto streets in exclusive neighborhoods Sunday and another person was found shot to death Tuesday. The local newspaper El Sudcaliforniano, which puts the mounting death toll in each headline on stories about violence, has reported 46 homicides in and around the city so far this year. That doesn’t include the apparent shooting victim on a La Paz sidewalk Tuesday. Federal statistics through October counted 48 killings for the entire state.

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Will tensions over security spoil the Obama-Peña Nieto Summit?

obama_nieto_featureAULA Blog, 4/16/13

The meeting in December between recently re-elected President Barack Obama and President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto was marked by cordiality and a desire to talk about anything but the often grisly drug-related violence in Mexico during the previous six years.  Since then, Peña Nieto has continued the changed emphasis, aided by headlines pivoting to positive stories.  Mexico has been recently hailed for its economic growth, particularly in export-oriented manufacturing, and for a series of political compromises that The Washington Post favorably compared with the U.S. Congressional stalemate.

Despite optimistic claims from the government, Mexican media reports indicate that drug-related violence continues at nearly the same pace as last year.  (Click here for a summary and analysis by our colleagues at InSight Crime.)  Moreover, pressure is growing on questions of human rights violations committed in the name of the war on drugs.  When Presidents Peña Nieto and Obama meet again in early May, holding back a renewed focus on security is likely to be a challenge.

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Lateral deportation: Migrants crossing the Mexican border fear a trip sideways

Border fenceThe Washington Post, 2/12/2013

While reporting on a story last week among the down-and-out (and recently deported) at a migrant shelter in Tecate, Mexico, I met a few men who had a whole new reason to dread re-arrest by U.S. Border Patrol. They were trying to sneak back into California. But if caught, they were likely to be transported hundreds of miles east by U.S. immigration authorities, where they would be released onto the streets of some of Mexico’s scariest border towns.

The procedure is known as Lateral Repatriation, or Lateral Deportation. It began a decade ago as a pilot program aimed at reducing migrant deaths in the blazing deserts of Arizona. The thinking was this: Instead of sending illegal migrants back to the Mexican side near their point of arrest, U.S. agents could break the catch-and-release pattern — and ties to local smuggling guides — by shipping deportees from the harsh deserts to more settled areas opposite south Texas.

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In Mexico’s murder city, the war appears over

The Washington Post, 8/20/2012

When this city was among the most murderous in the world, the morgue ran out of room, the corpses stacked to the ceiling in the wheezing walk-in freezers.

For all this, Mexico has not made much sense of one of the most sensational killing sprees in recent history, which has left 10,500 dead in the streets of Juarez as two powerful drug and crime mafias went to war. In 2010, the peak, there were at least 3,115 aggravated homicides, with many months posting more than 300 deaths, according to the newspaper El Diario.

But the fever seems to have broken.

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Mexico’s president says homicides down 15 percent to 20 percent in first half of 2012

The Washington Post/The Associated Press, 07/15/2012

Calderon said 2011 had proved “a climactic point” in drug-related killings, though he did not cite specific figures.

“Today, violence related to rivalries between criminals is declining,” he said. “It is higher than when I assumed the presidency, yes, but I insist it is a phenomenon that comes from the brutality and conflicts between cartels, and not precisely from the government’s actions.”

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Study: Mexico homicides rose 23 percent in 2010

Associated Press, 7/29/11

Photo credit: Kelly Donlan

The number of homicides in Mexico rose by nearly a quarter in 2010 compared to the year before as the drug war intensified across the country, Mexican statisticians said Thursday.

The National Institute of Statistics and Geography recorded 24,374 homicides over the course of last year, a 23 percent increase from 19,803 in 2009. Last year’s figure represented 22 killings for every 100,000 residents in the country.

Many but not all of the homicides were committed by organized crime organizations, the institute told The Associated Press.

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