EVENT TOMORROW! Criminal Justice in an Emerging Democracy: Perspectives from Mexico’s Inmates

March 26, 2015

prison cell blockWHEN: TOMORROW, Friday, May 27, 9:00-10:30am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s lower courts are undergoing a dramatic transformation, abandoning its behind-closed-doors, written criminal trials, and embracing a new criminal justice system (NCJS) with oral, adversary procedures. This reform template has been adopted by at least fourteen nations in Latin America. In order to measure the effects these reforms have on the criminal justice system, this event will present two studies that examine the system from an inmate’s perspective.

Roberto Hernández, the creator of the movies Presunto Culpable and El Tunel, will present a study that quantifies how authorities use their investigative powers to conduct eyewitness identification procedures; and interview or interrogate suspects. Elena Azaola will discuss a study conducted in 2014 in youth detention centers for adolescents who committed serious crimes. The study analyzes the background of these adolescents and the factors that contributed to their criminal actions.


Roberto Hernández 
Mexican Lawyer and Filmmaker

Elena Azaola
Psychoanalyst and Anthropologist


John Bailey
Professor, Georgetown University

Click here for more information, or to RSVP.

Mexico Steps Up Migration Enforcement, But Is It Working?

March 24, 2015

By David Agren, USA Today, 3/21/2015

Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_arrestSALTILLO, Mexico — Eulio Iglesias, 50, spent eight days traveling through Mexico last year in a bid to cross into the United States before he was stopped at the Texas border and returned to his native El Salvador.

This year, the same attempted journey — an effort to get back to New York City where he worked in hotels and restaurants for 20 years, and still has children — took him twice as long. That’s because Mexican authorities have increased immigration enforcement, forcing him to ride rickety vans and buses down back roads, bribe police to avoid being detained and ply circuitous paths on foot to evade patrols and checkpoints.

Read more…

Mexico Supreme Court Frees Man After 23 Years in Jail

March 20, 2015

BBC News, 3/19/2015

handcuffsThe Mexican Supreme Court has ordered the release of Alfonso Martin del Campo Dodd, a Mexican-American who was jailed in 1992 for the murder of his sister and brother-in-law.

The court ruled that Mr Martin del Campo’s confession had been extracted under torture and that there was no other evidence against him.

Mr Martin del Campo said police had placed a plastic bag over his head to make him confess to the double murder.

He is expected to be freed shortly.

Read more…

Group of Technical Experts Arrive in Mexico to Investigate Case of Disappeared Students

March 6, 2015

3/6/2015 Washington Office on Latin America

By Maureen Meyer and Hannah Smith

The Associated Press October 22, 2014

The Associated Press October 22, 2014

After the enforced disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero in September 2014, the Mexican government and the legal representatives for the students and their families requested technical assistance from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In November 2014, the three parties signed an agreement that led to the formation of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos y Expertas Independientes). This Group of Experts is tasked with reviewing and investigating the case of the disappeared students from the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, but its work could have broader implications for changing how Mexico handles other cases of disappearances, which have skyrocketed in recent years. On March 1, 2015, the Group of Experts traveled to Mexico to begin its work.

Read more…

Mexico: The Unbearable Cost of Distrust

March 5, 2015

By Arturo Franco, The Expert Take

justice - gavelTrust is at the heart of Mexico’s challenges today. The lubricant of the economic engine, trust enables market exchanges, reduces transaction costs for business, upholds security and peace, and makes institutions and the political system work. Distrust, in turn, creates unnecessary costs, incentivizes negative behaviors, and can become a huge burden for productivity and for growth.

Mexicans’ reported levels of trust and confidence in a wide range of institutions have been declining for many years. Between 2013 and 2014, virtually every institution, from the police to the church, from television stations and universities, to political parties, Congress and the president, have suffered from rising public distrust. What is worse, perhaps, is that investor confidence has also eroded.

Read the entire Expert Take here…

Book review: ‘A Mexican Utopia’, by Luis Rubio

March 5, 2015

3/3/2015 Financial Times

justice - gavel and bookLuis Rubio is one of Mexico’s most experienced and wisest commentators. As a group they are prone to periodic laments as to why their country, so rich in so many ways, remains so poor. Is it the DNA? Or the geography and history? Or is it because of a clash between the new and the old, the democratic and the authoritarian?

In his latest book, A Mexican Utopia, Mr Rubio takes a different approach. It is less about how to make Mexico rich than how to make it kinder and better. His utopian vision is slightly tongue in cheek; Mr Rubio admits readers may wonder what he “has been smoking”. Yet its thesis is serious and timely.

Read more…

Postcard Campaign Highlights Mexico’s Flaws

March 4, 2015

3/4/2015 Financial Times

mexican-flag1How should Mexico combat the “incredulity and distrust” that President Enrique Peña Nieto himself admits has swept the country? Answers on a postcard, please.

More than 8,000 people have done just that. In a campaign launched by civil society groups in November, Mexicans have vented their frustration with the ruling classes by sending in their own proposals for reforming the country. They will make uncomfortable reading for the government.

Read more…


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