Discussing Mexican Elections with Dr. Denise Dresser

Dr. Denise Dresser Presents on May 8, 2018

Dr. Denise Dresser presenting at the University of San Diego on May 8, 2018

05/15/18 (written by Lucy La Rosa)- Last week, Justice in Mexico was honored to host Dr. Denise Dresser, a renown Mexican political analyst, columnist and academic, to speak on the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico. The event, “Discussing the 2018 Mexican Presidential Election,” gave a comprehensive snapshot of the context and challenges relevant to Mexico’s presidential candidacy. Held on the USD campus, Dr. Dresser’s presentation was attended by approximately 90 students, professors, government officials, media representatives and members of the general public from the San Diego/Tijuana region.

Dr. Dresser’s work is primarily centered on Mexican democratization, corruption, the construction of citizenship and political economy issues from a comparative perspective. She is a professor of political science at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She writes a political column for the Mexican newspaper, Reforma, and Proceso magazine. She also participates in the weekly political roundtable hosted by Carmen Aristegui and the political talk show “Es la Hora de Opinar” hosted by Leo Zuckerman. Dr. Dresser is a winner of the National Journalism Award and was awarded the “Legion of Honor” by the government of France for her work on human rights, freedom of expression and human rights in Mexico. Forbes magazine named her one of the 50 most powerful women in Mexico and one of the most influential people on Twitter. She is the author of the bestselling El País de Uno, reflexiones para entender y cambiar a México. Her forthcoming book, Manifiesto mexicano: cómo perdimos el rumbo y cómo lo recuperamos, will be published in May 2018.

To frame her political analysis of the 2018 presidential elections, Dr. Dresser began by outlining the public sentiments surrounding Mexico’s sitting President, Enrique Peña Nieto, and the impending conclusion of his term. She highlighted the unfavorable ratings of both Peña Nieto and his affiliated Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) due to a variety of tarnishing corruption scandals. Dresser noted that the current political climate features a disgruntled citizenry looking for an end to systemic issues of crony capitalism, rent-seeking elites, corruption and impunity.

Following this frame of reference, she outlined the political background and current opinion poll rankings of the following presidential candidates: Jose Antonio Meade, Ricardo Anaya, Margarita Zavala, and Andres Manuel López Obrador. She probed the intentions and track record of each political candidate, respectively analyzing their party platforms and proposals for change in Mexico. In her thorough appraisal of each candidate, Dr. Dresser emphasized the candidates’ proposed solution to the challenges facing Mexico’s democratic functionality. She specifically underlined candidates’ response to structural issues of corruption and impunity.

Dr. Dresser, in reference to scholar Guillermo Trejo, agreed that regardless of which candidate wins the presidential seat, Mexico needs an “accountability shock.” She highlighted the need for candidates to address the issues perpetuated by an ineffective judicial system and a lacking “institutional design”. Moving forward, she argued, Mexico and its presidential candidates need to focus on strengthening rule of law in Mexico and improving a fight for civil rights. Accordingly, she reasoned that the candidates’ political background and action plan for addressing these challenges should be at the forefront of voters’ judgements on election day.

Bringing her political discourse to a close and in a final reference to Mexico’s need for greater political accountability, Dr. Dresser concluded, “If we don’t look up, those who aspire to govern us won’t do so.”

Dr. Dresser with Justice in Mexico staff

Dr. Dresser with Justice in Mexico staff

The Mexican presidential elections will be held on July 1, 2018. Voters will elect a new president, 128 senators, and 9 governors for 6-year terms, 500 federal deputies, 982 local deputies, 1,612 mayors for 3-year terms and a number of other municipal level positions. Approximately 88 million Mexican will be eligible to cast their vote for a total of 3,416 federal, state and municipal positions, one of the largest elections in Mexican history. For an extensive and intelligible overview of the upcoming elections, electoral processes, candidate and party platforms, Justice in Mexico highly recommends the 2018 Elections Guide by the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute.

Justice in Mexico would like to thank Dr. Denise Dresser for her time and commitment to Mexico’s democratic development, as well as thank all of those who attended and supported the implementation of the event.

 

Sources:

Mexico Institute’s 2018 Elections Guide. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second OASIS workshop of 2018 is completed at UANL

03/09/18 (written by Genesis Lopez) – Justice in Mexico’s Oral Adversarial Skill Building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) program held its second oral advocacy workshop of 2018 from February 23- March 3, 2018, working collaboratively with the Department of Law and Criminology (Facultad de Derecho y Criminología, FACDYC) at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, UANL) in Monterrey. The OASIS program, funded through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, emphasizes oral litigation skills, which are provided through these workshops.

The extensive two-week workshop provided critical instruction regarding the oral techniques central to Mexico’s Criminal Justice System. Approximately 85 participants, law professors and students from UANL, attended the workshop. OASIS Training Director Janice Deaton led a diverse team of instructors from Colombia, Mexico, and the United States. These instructors included: Christopher Pastrana, Bertha Alcalde, Anthony Da Silva, Jorge Gutiérrez, Michael Mandig, Albert Amado, Adriana Blanco, Carlos Varela and Iker Ibarreche.

The instructors addressed seven major topics:

Theory of the case: The strategy behind the decisions and actions a lawyer takes. This assists the participants in making strategic decisions, which help solve a case.

Opening Statements: Understanding the importance opening statements have in regards to the trial, specifically the jury. Participants learned how to prepare and present an effective opening statement.

Interrogation: Establishing the credibility of the witnesses, laying out the scene, and introducing the events that took place in relationship to the case.

Cross-Interrogation: Questioning of a witness where the opposing party looks to discredit their testimony and credibility.

Introducing Evidence: Determining whether or not the evidence one wishes to present is real, testimonial, demonstrative, or documental.

Use of Depositions: Understanding how to utilize previous statements, especially to refresh a witness’s memory during trial.

Closing Statements: Reiterating the important arguments, theories, and evidence that are relevant to the case. Participants learned how to structure their closing arguments and strengthen their communication skills.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the participants attended a plenary session on ethics and applied the skills they learned in a mock trial. The simulation was designed specifically for the OASIS program and gave the participants the opportunity to showcase what they earned over the course of two weeks. They adopted specific roles and the instructors acted as judges, overseeing the trial and providing feedback.

At the closing ceremony, the FACDYC Director, Oscar Lugo Serrato spoke with Justice in Mexico’s Program Coordinator, Octavio Rodriguez and discussed the importance of practical trainings like the OASIS workshop. They also discussed the significance of bi-national relationships between universities. The next OASIS workshop will take place at the (Universidad de Guadalajara, UdeG), ­­­from April 13 –April 21, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2018: News Brief

 

03/08/18 (written by Genesis Lopez)

Discover the important headlines in Mexico from February 2018.

13 Police Officers Arrested in Veracruz

 

Picture by Victor Camacho. La Jornada

Picture by Victor Camacho. La Jornada.

On the morning of February 8, 2018 in Xalapa, Veracruz, 13 police officers were taken into custody due to allegations of involvement in over 54 forced disappearances. These forced disappearances were instances of imprisonment by the government that predominantly occurred during the tenure of former Veracruz governor, Javier Duarte (La Jornada). Duarte is currently detained and accused of being involved in organized crime, embezzlement and corruption. Previous to his arrest on April 16, 2017, he was hiding in Guatemala for almost six months (BBC).

Moreover, there are reports of an elite police force in Veracruz, headed by former director of Veracruz State Police, Roberto González Meza, that illegally detained civilians suspected of being involved with “Los Zetas”(Proceso). Among the 13 police officers arrested was former Veracruz Public Security Secretariat (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP), Nava Holguín and Arturo Bermúdez Zurita. It has been reported that during Duarte’s six-year term there were up to 200 cases of forced disappearances in Veracruz (La Jornada).

 

Sources:

Fugitive Mexican governor Javier Duarte arrested in Guatemala.” BBC News. April 16, 2017.

Gómez, Eirinet, “Detienen a 13 policías de Veracruz vinculados con Javier Duarte.” La Jornada. February 8, 2018.

López, Lourdes, “Implican a exfuncionarios de Veracruz en delitos desaparición forzada.” Excelsior. February 8, 2018.

Pérez, Edgar, “Investigan a ex mando de seguridad de Javier Duarte por desaparición forzada de 15 personas.” El Universal. February 8, 2018.

Zavaleta, Noé, “Policia élite de Javier Duarte: perseguía a Zetas, levantaba a civiles.” Proceso. February 10, 2018.

 

Current Leader of Cartél de Tláhuac is arrested

 

Picture by Cua Rtoscuro. El Universal.

Picture by Cua Rtoscuro. El Universal.

On February 16, 2018, José Eduardo Zamora “El Cholo” was arrested for being linked to the Tláhuac Cartel in the municipality of San José de Iturbide in the state of Guanajuato (Milenio). Zamora was captured in a joint operation between the Investigative Police (Policía de Investigación, PDI) and local police department (Excelsior). He is the alleged successor of Felipe de Jesús Pérez Luna “El Ojos”, the previous leader of the Tláhuac Cartel, who died in November of 2017.

Zamora was detained in 2013 and 2016, respectively for street-level drug dealing and destruction of property. In both cases, he was released on a judge’s order. Authorities say that Zamora held a significant role in the  distribution of drugs in the southeast region of Mexico’s capital. In addition, Zamora is allegedly linked to the homicide of an ex-commander of the Mexico City municipal police in Iztapalapa in February of 2016. As of August 2016, 74 people involved with the Tláhuac Cartel have been arrested (El Universal).

 

Sources:

Detienen en Guanajuato a operador de cártel de Tláhuac.” Milenio, February 16, 2018.

Roa, Wendy, “Fue capturado ‘El Cholo’, jefe de sicarios del Cártel de Tláhuac.” Excelsior. February 16, 2018.

Suárez, Gerardo, “Aprehenden a ‘El Cholo’ ligado a Cártel de Tlahuac.” El Universal. February 17, 2018.

 

 

Anonymous Jury is ordered for “El Chapo’s” Trial

 

Photo by U.S Law Enforcement. New York Times .

Photo by U.S Law Enforcement. New York Times.

New York federal judge Brian M. Cogan has ordered that the jury taking part in Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s upcoming trial in September will be anonymous and partly sequestered, citing potential danger to the jurors. Guzmán is facing 17 charges, which include leading a criminal enterprise, producing and exporting wholesale amounts of narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border, and ordering the targeted assassinations of people associated with  rival organized crime groups (LA Times).

Cogan cited Guzman’s history of violence as the main reason concealing the identities of the jurors. In addition, the selected jury will be under the protection of federal marshals throughout the duration of the trial, which is anticipated to last three to four months (NY Times). Guzmán’s lawyer, A. Eduardo Balarezo, countered that the judge’s order would give the jurors an unfairly perceive Guzman as a threat. Balarezo believes that keeping the jury anonymous will undermine the presumption of innocence, causing them to form a prejudiced opinion before listening to any evidence. “El Chapo” has a history of interference with the judicial processes in Mexico, prompting strict legal procedures following his extradition to the  United States (NY Times).

 

Sources:

Agrawal, Nina, “Citing potential danger, judge orders anonymous jury in ‘El Chapo’ trial.” Los Angeles Times. February 6, 2018.

Feuer, Alan, “El Chapo Jurors Will Be Anonymous During Trial.” The New York Times. February 6, 2018.

 

 

 

 

New Working Paper: Organized Crime and Violence in Baja California Sur

Spatial distribution of homicides in BCS in 2017. Source: SNSP, 2017. Map generated by Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

Spatial distribution of homicides in BCS in 2017. Source: SNSP, 2017. Map generated by Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

 

02/16/18 (written by Genesis Lopez) – A new Justice in Mexico working paper by Laura Y. Calderón, entitled Organized Crime and Violence in Baja California Sur, provides analysis on the elevated levels of violence directly impacting key Baja California Sur cities, Los Cabos and La Paz. Utilizing the latest information and statistics on this topic, Calderón found that much of the violence in Baja California Sur is linked to organized crime groups looking to control these key drug trafficking areas. The working paper further discusses the increase in violence linked to organized crime group rivalries and subsequent government action in these affected regions.

According to Calderón, Baja California Sur’s economy depends heavily on tourism and commerce. Historically, Baja California Sur is characterized by having some of the lowest rates of crime and violence in Mexico. The recent surge in violent crime over the last decade is connected to the region’s transformation into an important nexus for drug traffic operations in Mexico.

Since 2010, the Sinaloa Cartel has dominated the Baja California region- formally headed by drug trafficker, Joaquín “El Chápo” Guzmán. Guzmán’s organization looked to remove other competing organized crime groups in the region. Their success in consolidating a territory monopoly caused a drop in violence while opening their access to the U.S. market. The arrest and extradition of Guzmán caused a significant shift in the structure of Sinaloa, initiating internal competition between regional Sinaloan leaders. Additionally, with major kingpins like Guzmán being targeted by Mexican authorities, other cartels in the area took this as an opportunity to gain power. A new organized crime group called the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (Jalisco New Generation Cartel, CJNG), headed by Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes is rapidly becoming the main competitor to the Sinaloa Cartel.

In response to the increased violence, Mexican authorities deployed soldiers to Los Cabos and La Paz in an attempt to lower the rates of homicides through military presence in important hotspots. This deterrence tactic required the cooperation of municipal, state, and federal forces. However, local law enforcement is often under-trained and minimally equipped to meet the challenge presented by organized crime. Overall, the militarization approach has not proven to be successful.

Calderón posits that the recent violence seen in Baja California Sur could be linked to the spillover effect from other violent states nearby. According to scholars, Miming Pan, Benjamin Widner and Carl E. Enomoto, negative economic growth of one state exacts a consequence on neighboring states, causing the crime rates to increase. Although the Sinaloa cartel continues to hold dominance over almost the entire state, excluding the contested cities of La Paz and Los Cabos, there is a strong internal struggle over the lack of partnerships and centralized leadership for the organization. Moreover, the increasing prominence of the CJNG continues to challenge Sinaloa for the largest, operating organized crime group in Mexico.

Given the salient information presented in Calderón’s working paper, it is important to note that most of the violence happening in Baja California Sur is amongst individuals involved in organized crime. Tourists should exercise caution, but also keep in mind that the number of tourists of being targeted is currently low. Meanwhile, Mexican authorities in Baja California Sur, including local law enforcement and public officials, must be willing to engage in transparent and informed dialogue. Collaboration will be key to protecting the general citizenry and tourist flows, an important source of revenue to the state of Baja California Sur.

 

Sources

Pan, M., Widner, B. and Enomoto, C. E. (2012), GROWTH AND CRIME IN CONTIGUOUS STATES OF MEXICO. Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, vol 24: p 51–64.

 

 

 

 

Fourth year of OASIS workshops start at UdeG

OASIS workshop participants organize their defense for the mock trial02/06/18 (written by Genesis Lopez) – Justice in Mexico’s Oral-Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) program held its first oral advocacy workshop of 2018 from January 19- 26, 2018, in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara (Universidad de Guadalajara, UdeG). The workshop launched the fourth year of the OASIS program. The OASIS program, funded through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), emphasizes oral litigation skills through practical skill building exercises and theory instruction from experienced litigators.

The extensive 40-hour workshop provided crucial instruction on oral techniques central to Mexico’s Criminal Justice System (Sistema de Justicia Penal, SJP). The SJP, fully implemented in 2016, introduced an adversarial model of criminal procedure, replacing Mexico’s traditional framework. This reform aims to increase transparency within the Mexican judicial system while reducing corruption and impunity that undermine the country’s progress. According to a 2016 report by the Center for Investigation and Development, A.C. (Centro de Investigación para el Desarollo, AC, CIDAC) Mexico’s implementation of SJP lacks a national strategy, consolidation, and equal access to a quality defense. The OASIS workshops provide its participants with skills imperative to the implementation of Mexico’s judicial system. Approximately 80 law professors and students from UdeG attended the workshop.

OASIS instructors pose for a photo

OASIS Training Director Janice Deaton led a diverse team of instructors from Chile, Mexico, and the United States. These instructors, included: Eduardo Alonso Domínguez, Miroslava Pineda Zuñiga, Al Amado, Victor Torres, Michael Mandig, Bertha Alcalde, Carlos Espinoza Vidal, Frank Sánchez, and Alex Navidad. The instructors addressed five major topics: theory of the case, opening arguments, interrogation, cross-examination, and closing arguments. Through a diverse agenda of theory and practical exercises, the participants learned to analyze cases and improve their oral litigation skills.

 

At the conclusion of the workshop, the participants applied the skills they learned over in a mock trial. The simulation was specially developed for the OASIS program, with participants adopting various roles on behalf of the defense or prosecution. The instructors acted as judges, overseeing the trial and providing constructive feedback.

Since its inception, OASIS has worked with over 800 law students and professors from public universities in Mexico, promoting greater dialogue and legal training pertinent to Mexico’s criminal justice system. The next OASIS workshop will take place at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, UANL) in Monterrey, Nuevo León from February 23- March 3, 2018.

Sources

Hallazgos 2016: Seguimiento y Evaluación de la Operación del Sistema De Justicia Penal en México.” Centro de Investigación para el Desarollo, AC, CIDAC. June 18, 2017.