01/16/14 – On January 16, Justice in Mexico’s David Shirk and Octavio Rodriguez joined a group of experts on Mexico to brief staffers from the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. The group composed also by Duncan Wood (Woodrow Wilson Center), Alejandro Hope (IMCO), Steven Dudley (InSight Crime) and Matthew Ingram (SUNY, Albany) met with staffers of the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to discuss about the current situation in Mexico. Of special interest of the staffers of the U.S. Congress was the security strategy of President Peña Nieto, the current context on violence in the state of Michoacán, as well as better ways for the U.S. to cooperate with Mexico.
The experts expressed that there has been a continuation in the strategy to combat organized crime despite the government’s effort to shift the attention from security to other aspects such as the economy and the structural reforms recently approved in Mexico. The group coincided in the decrease of intentional homicides from 2012 to 2013, though they pointed out that this decrease was only of about 10% and in any case it followed a similar trend experienced from 2011 to 2012, the last year of the Calderón administration, which not necessarily means that this was a direct result from the strategy of the Peña Nieto administration.
The group commented that the situation of violence in Michoacán could reflect the incapacity of the government to grant security in certain regions, which led to the growing influence of self-defense groups aiming to free the states from criminal organizations. The experts coincided that while the government is now taking actions the risk remains on other regions of the country where the conditions are set to new outbreaks of violence. The groups finally expressed that the U.S. must keep supporting Mexico specially in pillars 2 and 4 of the Merida initiative, strengthening institutions, and building strong and resilient communities.