NEW PUBLICATION: Violence and Citizen Participation in Mexico: From the Polls to the Streets

January 13, 2015

By Sandra Ley

Resilient Communities Series15How do citizens cope politically with violence? In the face of rising insecurity, Mexican citizens, particularly victims, have poured into the streets to demand an end to violence and ask for peace and justice. However, as organized crime groups attempt to influence local elections and target political candidates and public officials, citizens have not felt equally encouraged to cast ballots on election day.

Elections in Mexico, as well as in other Latin American countries such as Brazil and Guatemala, have been marked by criminal violence. Voters, public officials, and candidates alike have been threatened or attacked by organized crime groups. It is, therefore, important to examine how violence shapes various forms of participation. This paper seeks to provide a broad view of political participation in the midst of Mexico’s current security crisis, with the goal of understanding the effects of violence on civic activism.

This 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.

Read the publication here…


Mexico’s embattled government poised to unveil law and order measures

November 26, 2014

11/25/14 Reuters 

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Following mass protests in Mexico over the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers two months ago, the government will unveil measures this week designed to improve policing and fix a failing justice system, lawmakers said on Tuesday. Senate leader Miguel Barbosa of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution said the measures would focus on issues like streamlining the chain of command in the police as well as improving the penal system and access to justice. The government would present the plans on Thursday, Barbosa said in an interview with Mexican radio. Ricardo Pacheco, a lawmaker in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party who heads the justice committee in the lower house of Congress, said the plan was to give the state greater powers to combat organized crime and violence.

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Op-ed: In Mexico, guilty till proven innocent

June 5, 2013

justice - gavelBy Maureen Meyer, CNN, 6/5/2013

The case of Yanira Maldonado brought international attention once more to the innocent people getting caught in Mexico’s drug war. Maldonado, a U.S. citizen and mother of seven children, was released late last week after spending more than a week in a prison in Nogales, Mexico, accused of trying to transport marijuana aboard a bus.

She and her husband, Gary, were returning on the bus from a family funeral in Sonora, Mexico, when soldiers at a military checkpoint stopped them. The passengers were told to get out so that the soldiers and an official from the public prosecutor’s office could inspect it. She was arrested and handed over to the official because soldiers said marijuana was found under her seat — conviction could have meant a minimum of 10 years in jail. A surveillance video showing her boarding the bus with only her purse, blankets and two bottles of water apparently exonerated her.

Read more…


High-profile corruption cases collapse in Mexico as critics point to incompetence, vendettas

April 24, 2013

lawAssociated Press, 4/24/13

In just one week, some of Mexico’s most high-profile corruption cases have unraveled on thin or made-up evidence, reinforcing long-held notions that the Attorney General’s Office is more focused on political vendettas or favors than justice.

Two of the cases against public servants, a former drug czar and a former No. 2 in the Defense Department accused of links to drug cartels, were thrown out within days last week. In one, the judge determined that witness testimonies were false, and the other case dissolved because prosecutors couldn’t find evidence to support the charges. Many blamed the failed prosecutions on the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, which prepared the cases.

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EVENT: Mexico: Commitment to Security & Justice

April 17, 2013

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to watch the live webcast for “Mexico: Commitment to Security & Justice,” a presentation by Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. His address will cover the Peña Nieto administration’s security and justice strategies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 9-10:30am (EST)

Watch live here…

osorio chong

Follow the conversation live: @MexicoInstitute #Segob


Auto Defensa: Rough Justice in Mexico’s Lawless Mountains

February 12, 2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceTime, 2/12/2013

In late January I traveled along winding mountain roads in Guerrero state, Mexico, to witness the opening of a new chapter in the country’s enduring battle against organized crime. This was not, however, a drug eradication mission conducted by the Mexican Army, or an operativo by the Federal Police to nab cartel chiefs. Instead, I was there to document a burgeoning movement of “Auto Defensa,” or autonomous uprisings by campesinos who, pushed to the breaking point by criminal gangs operating in their communities, decided to take back control of their towns and villages.

The event generally credited with sparking this movement occurred on January 5th in Ayutla de los Libres, a town of roughly 30,000, when a local representative, or comesario, was kidnapped for ransom. A group of locals decided to combat the kidnappers. They armed themselves, closed roads into and out of the town, formed patrols and, before long, freed the comesario and took his captors prisoner.

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French woman freed in Mexico kidnapping case

January 24, 2013

justice-systemLos Angeles Times, 1/23/2013

In a surprising climax to a case that has strained Franco-Mexican relations for years, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a young French woman serving a 60-year sentence for her involvement with a Mexican kidnapping ring.

Cassez, 38, was arrested in 2005 along with her Mexican boyfriend, whom authorities said was the head of a kidnapping group called the Zodiacs. Although Cassez lived in a compound where victims were held, she maintained that she had committed no crimes.

Read more…


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