Youth Gang Prevention in Mexico

handcuffsBy Nathan Jones, 8/28/2013

Read Nathan Jones most recent paper “Understanding and Addressing Youth in “Gangs” in Mexico” published by the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute  

Mexico’s struggle with organized crime has consumed much of the policy agenda in the administrations of Felipe Calderón and now, Enrique Peña Nieto.  Academics and policy analysts looking beyond the battles with high-level organized crime groups have identified street gangs in Mexico as a potential looming security threat.

After conducting interviews with gang experts in Mexico, I discovered that security- centric responses often exacerbate the problem.  Mexico would be better served by a long-term development and human rights oriented strategy to address the problem of youths in gangs.  Indeed, at least rhetorically, the new Peña Nieto administration recognizes this and has discussed plans to apply this strategy more broadly.  Whether rhetoric will become reality will depend upon the administration’s commitment to these long-term policies.

Continue reading “Youth Gang Prevention in Mexico”

Applying Lessons from Colombia to Mexico

Nathan Jones, AL DÍA: News and Analysis from the Mexico Institute,* 12/3/2010

Mexican elites are naturally reticent when it comes to comparisons with Colombia.  They view their organized crime problem as very different from that of Colombia’s problems with the Medellin and Cali Cartels in the 1990’s and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas of the last decade.  For example, they say Colombia faced insurgency, not purely narco-violence, Colombia is more a drug producing state than a drug transit state and Colombia’s violence was largely rural not urban.  For Mexican elites the diagnosis of “narco-insurgency” is incorrect and thus the prescription of “counterinsurgency,” which embodied Colombia’s national security strategy under President Alvaro Uribe, known as “Democratic Security,” is also wrong for Mexico.

Quibbling about proper diagnosis may be a moot point.  Just as antibiotics can cure different ailments, counterinsurgency strategies can address a myriad of social ills. In the Mexican context, counterinsurgency should be viewed as a national institution-strengthening strategy that will remove the underpinnings of drug trafficking violence in Mexico. Continue reading “Applying Lessons from Colombia to Mexico”