After president’s first year, Mexico still a mess by many measures

Los Angeles Times, 12/1/2013

Enrique PeñaNieto 2To President Enrique Peña Nieto’s supporters, his first year in office has been a time of bold promises kept as he pursues an ambitious agenda of reforms designed, in the long term, to bring peace and economic growth to Mexico.

But in the short term, by many measures, his country remains a mess. Though he promised to focus on Mexico’s economic potential, Peña Nieto has presided over an economy that has hardly grown at all. Though he vowed to reduce the kind of violence that affects innocent citizens, his record has been mixed, with kidnappings and extortion rising nationwide even as the number of homicides drops.

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Mexico clown convention condemns fancy-dress drug cartel killing

The Guardian, 10/24/2013

gun - crime sceneDelegates to a three-day Latin American clown convention in Mexico City have distanced themselves from the murder last week of a drug lord by a hitman in fancy dress, insisting no genuine member of their profession would have committed the crime. Convicted drug trafficker Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix was shot dead on Friday in the Baja beach resort of Los Cabos by a gunman wearing a clown costume, complete with wig and a rubber nose. The dead man was the eldest brother of Mexico’s once-feared Arellano Felix clan.

Clown leader Tomas Morales, a 21-year veteran of the trade who goes by the stage name Payaso Llantom, said he was certain the killer was not a professional clown. He said clowns in Mexico, especially in outlying states, know each other, and their costumes and makeup are individualized and recognizable.

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Out of sight, not out of mind

The Economist, 10/19/2013

Ttijuana-hillside1roubled by the bloody image this gave Mexico, Mr Peña has adopted a new approach since taking over in December. Its most eye-catching element is to pour 118 billion pesos ($9.1 billion) into the 220 most violent neighbourhoods in the country, offering more schooling, jobs, parks and cultural activities to stop them becoming “crime factories”. Footballers have joined in, providing soccer camps to slum kids who might otherwise want to become hired guns.

These are not new ideas. Efforts to mend the torn social fabric in the most crime-ridden cities, like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, started under Mr Calderón. Mr Peña has given them greater impetus, yet even his government recognises that they will not yield a quick pay-off. Meanwhile, it is under pressure to produce a coherent law-enforcement plan in a country where, according even to official statistics, almost nine out of ten crimes go unreported. Policing is a particular concern. “They are still in reactive mode. If there is a plan to go after drug-traffickers, it’s being kept super-secret,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a crime analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

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Infographic: Key moments from Peña Nieto’s First 100 Days (In Spanish)

peña-nietoReforma, 3/10/2013

Some of the key moments from Peña Nieto’s first 100 days in office have included: the Victims Law, the arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo, Florence Cassez’s release, the announcement of a new security strategy, among others.

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Weekly News Summary: February 15

Coffee by Flikr user samrevel

The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon, summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week, the Peña Nieto administration unveiled its new strategy to combat organized crime, promising the creation of a 10,000-strong gendarmerie by year’s end, as well as $9.2 billion for social programs aimed at the country’s most violent towns and neighborhoods.  Mexico’s booming auto industry surpassed tourism and oil exports to become the nation’s main source of foreign exchange. The government’s efforts to transform the Mexican narrative of violence into one of prosperity and social development, however, continued to suffer setbacks following the rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco last week. Auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero continued to hold over forty people accused of several crimes hostage. North of the border, talk of comprehensive immigration reform continued, with critics warning against conditioning reform efforts on the poorly defined notion of securing the border, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano added, has “never been stronger.”

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New Resources from the Mexico Institute


The Mexico Institute is pleased to announce a selection of new resources:

  • Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood provides commentary on the Pacto.
  • NAFTA 20 Years on: Time for a Change, analysis by Christopher Wilson.
  • Mexico Institute releases English translation graphic of new Mexican cabinet.
  • Mexico Institute releases 4 part video series on Latino electorate.
  • New addition to The Expert Take: Eric L. Olson provides commentary on President Peña Nieto’s Security Strategy

Issue Brief: Mexico’s Fight Against Organized Crime

Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates on behalf of the Enrique Peña Nieto Transition, 11/21/2012

Enrique Peña Nieto

On December 1, 2012 Enrique Peña Nieto will be sworn-in as Mexico’s next president. This is the third in a series of issue briefs covering some of his policy priorities. Each brief will outline the president-elect’s vision for Mexico and proposed policies.


Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto supports the decision made by President Felipe Calderón to confront the threat of organized crime head-on. As Peña Nieto has stated “the law is not negotiable, it is to be applied.” The president-elect believes that enforcing the law is not an option, but rather an obligation of the Mexican State and its authorities.

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