9/16/2015  The Huffington Post 

15424774877_785a4e19a8_nFour men named by Mexican authorities as drug cartel members who allegedly killed 43 missing students are actually impoverished construction workers who confessed only after being tortured, according to a report published Sunday in Mexican magazine El Proceso.

The investigative report by journalists Anabel Hernández and Steve Fisher casts further doubt on the Enrique Peña Nieto administration’s already widely discredited investigation into what happened to the missing students. On Sept. 6, a panel of experts fielded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced that the Mexican government’s version of events has no basis in forensic science.

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Mexico’s Peña Nieto acknowledges ‘a difficult year’ and public anger

9/2/2015 LA Times

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters
Via Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday acknowledged that the nation has experienced a “difficult year” that has generated “anger” and damaged the public mood and trust.

The first half of his presidency has been characterized by a stagnant economy, corruption scandals and horrifying human rights abuses, as well as an agenda of constitutional reforms that have so far failed to deliver.

In his third state-of-the union address, Peña Nieto pledged to focus on strengthening Mexico’s rule of law and on reducing poverty and inequality during the three years remaining in his presidential term. He also said it was time for members of his administration to tighten their belts, promising austerity in public spending.

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Upcoming Event! Economics and Transparency: Meeting the Challenge in the Americas

justice - gavel and bookWHEN: Tuesday, June 9, 1:30-5:00pm

WHERE: 6th Floor Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars


Throughout much of Latin America, the “golden years” of economic growth during the last decade’s commodity boom have given way to economic decline or stagnation. At the same time, a mobilized citizenry is demanding better government performance. These two factors have focused unprecedented attention on rule of law deficits and official corruption. Meanwhile, relations among countries of the hemisphere have grown more complex. As much as the region has welcomed the normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations, the options for international insertion now extend far beyond the Western Hemisphere.

1:30-1:45pm: Keynote Remarks
The Honorable Juan Gabriel Valdés, Ambassador of Chile to the United States

1:45-3:15pm: Combatting Corruption and Building the Rule of Law
Alejandro Ponce, World Justice Project

Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Confidencial, Nicaragua

Eduardo Bohórquez, Transparencia Mexicana

Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Wilson Center

Daniel Zovatto, IDEA Internacional, Costa Rica

3:15-4:30pm: Hemispheric Relations in Leaner Times: What is the Path Forward?
Ambassador Gil Rishchynski, Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations

Roberto Russell, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Argentina

Richard Feinberg, University of California, San Diego

Maria Hermínia Tavares de Almeida, Centro Brasileiro de Analise e Planejamento, São Paulo

Cynthia Arnson, Director, Latin American Program, Wilson Center

4:30-5:00pm: Closing Keynote
The Honorable Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

*There will be a live webcast of this event. 

Mexico Nabs Cop Allegedly Involved in Disappearance of Students

Reuters, 5/8/2015

handcuffsMexican police arrested one of the senior police officers accused of involvement in the disappearance of a group of 43 student teachers last year, the country’s interior ministry said on Thursday.

Francisco Salgado, 41, was the deputy head of the police in the southwestern city of Iguala, where 43 student teachers went missing in September last year. The government says the group was detained by corrupt police officers who handed them over to a local drug gang that killed them and then incinerated their bodies.

Read more…

Law Will Let Some Foreign Agents Carry Weapons in Mexico

Reuters, 4/23/2015

youth with handgunMexico’s congress approved on Thursday a reform that lets some foreign agents carry arms inside the country, a significant change in a nation that has historically said the practice would violate its sovereignty.

Under the law, foreign customs and migration agents will be allowed to carry guns in previously established zones. Also, foreign leaders or heads of state will be able to enter Mexico with armed security details.

Officials say the presence of foreign agents in Mexico will speed up the joint inspection process and facilitate the flow of goods and people across borders. They also say foreign customs and migration agents at times need guns to guarantee their security given the problems of drug and human trafficking.

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Infographic: “Were You Mistreated?”

By Gabrielle Velasco, Mexico Institute intern

__Were_You________MistreatedThis new infographic by the Mexico Institute charts data gathered from a survey conducted by Roberto Hernandez that asks Mexican prison inmates in the State of Mexico and DF if they were mistreated during their interrogations.

Click here to see the infographic. 

Related material:

Video: Criminal Just in an Emerging Democracy: Perspectives from Mexico’s Inmates

Transparency and the Rule of Law Series

Inmate Experiences in Mexican Prisons

Mexico’s Prison Reform

Youth Incarceration in Mexico

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

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.