Justice in Mexico Director Provides Testimony on Capitol Hill

Dr. David Shirk, Maureen Meyer, and Richard Miles (from left to right) spoke on January 15, 2020 at the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ subcommittee hearing, Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico. Photo: YouTube.

01/27/20 (written by kheinle) — Justice in Mexico Director Dr. David Shirk recently provided expert testimony on Capitol Hill. On January 15, 2020, the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade, which falls under the House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, held a hearing on “Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico.” Dr. Shirk spoke alongside two other distinguished experts in the field, Maureen Meyer with the Washington Office on Latina America and Richard Miles with the Center for Strategic & International Studies. The written remarks submitted for the hearing can be found on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee Repository site.

The Resurgence of Violence

Dr. Shirk’s presentation looked specifically at the public security in Mexico. He began by contextualizing today’s historic levels of violence, which have been on the rise the past decade despite a brief lull from 2012 to 2014. While final figures are still being tabulated by the Mexican government’s National Public Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP), the number of homicide cases reported for 2019 increased to a record of more than 34,000 victims, up from the previous peaks of 33,341 victims in 2018 and the 28,734 in 2017.

There have also been several high-profile displays of extreme violence this past year, noted Dr. Shirk, including the November 4, 2019 killing of nine women and children with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship in two ambush attacks by an organized crime group in Northern Mexico. The botched catch and eventual release of Ovidio Guzman, son of notorious Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in October in Culiacán was also highlighted, which showcased the serious levels of corruption ingrained in Mexico. Thirteen individuals were also killed during that incident. Read more about the record-breaking levels of violence in 2019 here.

Contributing Factors

The presentation then turned to outlining several systemic factors that contribute to this violence. Dr. Shirk first noted the impact of market shifts and innovations in the production of illicit drugs. Changes in the market for illicit psychotropic drugs (including the proliferation of synthetic drugs, like methamphetamine and fentanyl), have led to a restructuring of Mexican drug production and trafficking networks, resulting in newfound competition and violence.

Second, he pointed to the unintended consequences of counter-drug measures. The policy targeting high level leaders for arrest, known as the “kingpin strategy,” has long been questioned by security experts. It often fails to dismantle the mid-level organizational structures and ancillary support that allow organized crime groups to thrive in Mexico. This leads to newfound competition and violence.

Third, one must consider the changing strategic dynamics among organized crime groups, he said. The last few years have seen greater competition, splintering, and diversification among Mexico’s organized crime groups seeking profitability through extortion, kidnapping, robbery (including fuel theft), and local drug dealing.

Finally, Dr. Shirk called attention to the impact of the changes in Mexican government and policy, which has had disruptive effects on existing organized crime and corruption networks, thus leading to greater violence. He specifically highlighted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s election in December 2018, as well as the unprecedented number of Mexican federal, state, and local offices that also turned over that year. In addition, the president had promised a new, more benevolent approach than his predecessor’s militarized security strategy, dubbing his plan “hugs, not gunfights” (“abrazos, no balazos”). With President López Obrador’s first full year in office as the most violent on record, the effectiveness of the government’s security strategy has certainly been called into question. 

Dr. Shirk concluded his testimony with ten key recommendations for U.S. authorities:

  1. Promote better monitoring and analysis of Mexico’s rule of law challenges;
  2. Assist Mexico in enhancing police and prosecutorial agencies;
  3. Aid Mexico’s fight against corruption;
  4. Strengthen controls to prevent illegal exports of firearms to Mexico;
  5. Establish better controls on money laundering and DTO financial operations;
  6. Strengthen cross-border cooperation and liaison mechanisms;
  7. Prevent blowback from U.S. deportations of criminal aliens;
  8. Allow Mexico to focus its scarce law enforcement resources on domestic security;
  9. Develop explicit performance measures for the fight against organized crime; and
  10. Evaluate alternatives to current counter-drug policy.

Other Observations and Recommendations

Maureen Meyer, WOLA’s Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights, also shared her expertise testimony on security and rule of law in Mexico. Her presentation focused more on justice in Mexico, specifically looking at the country’s “weak rule of law.” She covered topics including human rights violations, the National Guard, criminal justice reforms, the autonomy of justice institutions, government collusion, and the role of U.S. engagement in Mexico.

Richard Miles, the Senior Associate of the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Americas Program, spoke about the 2008 Merida Initiative – the shared agreement between the United States and Mexico that seeks to decrease violence and curtail drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico. Although the Merida Initiative has failed to reach its goal, he argued, it has certainly improved bilateral security cooperation. This in turn has led to further commitments from the U.S. government to continue supporting Mexico’s security and stability – commitments that he recommended need to be dutifully “tracked and measured.”

Conclusion

The three expert testimony witnesses approached the question of strengthening security and rule of law in Mexico from their own lens: Dr. Shirk emphasizing patterns of crime and violence, Maureen Meyer focusing on the weak rule of law and judicial angle, and Richard Miles noting the need to evaluate and reinvigorate efforts under Merida Initiative. Yet there was strong consensus in the hearing on the idea of “shared responsibility” between the United States and Mexico. There was also general agreement that recent discussion about designating Mexican organized crime groups as “terrorist” organizations were misplaced and could lead to an unnecessary diversion of funds from current U.S. counter-terror efforts. When asked why the U.S. government should not deploy all available tools to fight the cartels, Dr. Shirk noted that it is unwise to try to fix a cell phone with a hammer.

Moreover, there was general agreement that the approaches taken by the U.S. and Mexican governments to reducing violence in Mexico have not worked. This includes the failure to address systemic challenges like southbound firearms trafficking coupled with high demand for illicit drugs (United States), the kingpin strategy and “hugs, not gunfights” strategy (Mexico), and the Merida Initiative (bilateral). Given Mexico’s deadliest year on record in 2019, it is clear there is a long road ahead to strengthening the country’s security and rule of law.

Sources:

“Homicides and Disappearances Reach New Levels in 2019.” Justice in Mexico. January 14, 2020.

Meyer, Maureen. Testimony for the House Committee on Foreign Affair’s Sub-Committee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade hearing on “Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico.” U.S. House of Representatives. January 15, 2020.

Miles, Richard. Testimony for the House Committee on Foreign Affair’s Sub-Committee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade hearing on “Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico.” U.S. House of Representatives. January 15, 2020.

Shirk, David A. Testimony for the House Committee on Foreign Affair’s Sub-Committee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade hearing on “Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico.” U.S. House of Representatives. January 15, 2020.

Website. Committee Repository. “Hearing: Strengthening Security and the Rule of Law in Mexico.” U.S. House of Representatives. Last updated January 15, 2020.

Washington Office on Latin America. “WOLA’s Maureen Meyer Testifies to House Subcommittee of Rule of Law, Security in Mexico.” YouTube. January 16, 2020.

Alleged Mexican Government Corruption Exposed During the El Chapo Trial

Trial of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Image Source: USA Today.

Trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Source: USA Today.

02/11/19 (written by aferrez) The evidentiary phase of the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the purported leader the of the Sinaloa drug cartel, came to a conclusion on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 after having raised newfound speculation about the extent of the corruption in Mexico.

The trial included testimony from at least 16 of Guzmán’s “underlings and allies, some of whom served as cartel bag men.” Several of these witnesses are among those who made allegations of corruption about Mexican government officials, including members of the current and past Mexican presidential administrations.

According to Alan Feuer of The New York Times, “It is no secret that Mexico’s drug cartels have, for decades, corrupted the authorities with dirty money.” Nonetheless, the testimony of some witnesses brought several shocking allegations. For example, the testimony of Vicente Zambada, son of Ismael Zambada an alleged partner of Guzmán. On the witness stand, Zambada claimed his father had a bribery budget of one million dollars a month, and all of it went to high ranking government officials.

In addition to allegations brought forth by Zambada, another witness named Miguel Angel Martínez brought further allegations against Mexican authorities. According to Martínez’s testimony reported by again by Alan Feuer of The New York Times, the chief of Mexico City’s federal police, Guillermo González Calderoni, was the first official on Guzmán’s payroll in the late 1980s, and has since allegedly provided Guzmán with “secret information on an almost daily basis.” This information included, but was not limited to, the disclosure of a radar system installed on the Yucatán Peninsula by the United States government to track Guzmán’s drug flights from Columbia.

The testimony of such witnesses underscored the fact that major drug trafficking operations necessarily involve some significant level of government complicity. This was point was made especially clear by Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadía, a Columbian supplier of Guzmán, who was quoted by The New York Timesas stating that “It’s impossible to be the leader of a drug cartel in Columbia without having corruption…they go hand in hand.” Abadía testified that in order to traffic drugs internationally, his organization paid off everyone from journalists to tax officials.

As revealing as the trial has been with such examples, some experts think the revelations of corruption only scratch the surface. Feuer notes “the trial is offering a public airing of the crimes of the Sinaloa drug cartel –– but is only revealing ‘what the government would like us to hear.’” Indeed, Judge Brian M. Cogan, who presided over the case, had initially instructed some witnesses that they must refrain from discussing alleged corruption of government officials in Mexico because, “It would needlessly embarrass certain individuals and entities.” Nonetheless, the trial brought forth numerous specific details that suggested high level government involvement in the drug trade.

Perhaps the most shocking allegation of the trial was the claim that Guzmán directed a payment of $100 million dollar to then-sitting president Enrique Peña Nieto. Alex Cifuentes Villa, the Colombian drug lord who delivered the testimony against Peña Nieto, is recorded to have saidthat the Sinaloa cartel was initially contacted by Peña Nieto about the time he was elected president in late 2012, according toAlan Feuer at The New York Times. Feuer also notes that Cifuentes Villa testified that Enrique Peña Nieto asked Guzmán for $250 million in exchange for calling off a nationwide manhunt for himduring the campaign. Both Peña Nieto and the López Obrador government vehemently refuted the allegations brought against them and their administrations on social media and in public statements to the press.

In response to these allegations, the defense counsel representing Guzmán raised questions about the credibility of the witnesses for the prosecution. In a quote for an article produced by BBC News Mundo, lead defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman asserted that those testifying against Guzmán are, for the most part, members of the Sinaloa cartel themselves and their testimony is likely intended to gain them leniency on sentences that they are currently serving. Lichtman believes the level of legitimacy of the witnesses is tainted by the fact that they are “men who have cheated all their lives.” Indeed, several witnesses who testified during the trial reportedly struck deals with the prosecution in an effort to receive reduced sentences or U.S. visas.

The final ruling on Guzmán’s fate remains in the hands of the jury, which at the time of this posting was still deliberating on a verdict.  Regardless of the outcome, some analysts raised questions about whether there would be a reckoning for corrupt officials, given the details that were revealed at trial. In an interview with CBC Radio, Anabel Hernández, author of Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers, stated, “The trial of El Chapo Guzmán is very symbolic…but the problem is that [it] will not resolve all the corruption, all the laundering of money that exists in Mexico, and that helps the Sinaloa Cartel, and also other cartels, to exist.”

Meanwhile, the trafficking of drugs to the United States continues unabated. Guzmán’s alleged partner, Ismael Zambada, remains at large and numerous other drug trafficking organizations continue to thrive in Mexico. Numerous sources reporting on the Guzmán trial note that this drug trafficking activity and the corruption that results is likely to continue as long as there is a voracious appetite for narcotics in the United States.

Sources:

Lissardy, Gerardo. “Juicio a ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán: La Batalla Clave De Los Testigos Comienza Con Relatos Épicos De Envíos De Cocaína, Dinero Sucio y Corrupción – BBC News Mundo.” BBC News, BBC, 15 Nov. 2018.https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-46217746

Feuer, Alan. “El Chapo Trial Shows That Mexico’s Corruption Is Even Worse Than You Think.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Dec. 2018.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/nyregion/el-chapo-trial-mexico-corruption.html

Tremonti, Anna Maria. “The Current: Trial of El Chapo Won’t Resolve the Corruption That Empowered Him, Says Journalist | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Jan. 2019.https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-january-7-2019-1.4963706/trial-of-el-chapo-won-t-resolve-the-corruption-that-empowered-him-says-journalist-1.4968242

Feuer, Alan. “Former Mexican President Peña Nieto Took $100 Million Bribe, Witness at El Chapo Trial Says.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Jan. 2019.

 www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/nyregion/el-chapo-trial.html.

 

 

New Working Paper: Immigration and National Security: An Empirical Assessment of Central American Immigration and Violent Crime in the United States

 

January 25, 2019- In his first primetime Oval Office address, President Donald Trump called on Congress to address what he called a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” at the United States’ southern border, spawned in part by the recent arrival of a caravan of 6,500 migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle region.[1] In her paper, titled “Immigration and National Security: An Empirical Assessment of Central American Immigration and Violent Crime in the United States,” Daphne Blanchard examines the extent of the potential threat by gathering quantitative data of previous Central American migration flows and the impact they have had on violence in American communities. The author contends that as rhetoric from high-level politicians and news media makes connections between violent crime and immigration, political parties’ stances on immigration become more divergent — leading to the inability to agree on comprehensive immigration reform. Not only does this research add to the understanding of the potential threat of these particular migrants to U.S. communities, its findings can be generalized to the overall public debate of the nature of immigration and national security.

 

Foreign-born populations in the US

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau

Ms. Blanchard found that Central American migration has been hyperinflated in scope and potential for insecurity. Migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) region, formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have indeed surged over the past two decades–their numbers more than double the estimated 1.5 million people from that region in 2000–and the number of unaccompanied minors and families crossing the US-Mexico border has dramatically increased since 2008.[2] However, the author argues the importance of putting their numbers in perspective, noting that this subset of immigrants constitutes less than one percent of the share of the overall U.S. population.

 

The evidence compiled by Ms. Blanchard suggests that the surge in migration from the Northern Triangle to the United States has not been accompanied by increases in violent crime that would warrant sounding the national security threat alarm. Not only did overall U.S. violent crime rates descend as Central American migration share rose; but the influx of these foreigners in 27 metro areas showed no correlation when compared to the violent crime rate changes during 2012 to 2017. When compared to homicide rate changes, the weak correlation is even more evident; and in the vast majority of cases, homicide rates declined as immigration climbed significantly. It is interesting to note that the only metro area to experience a reduction in Northern Triangle concentration was Columbus, Ohio, which also experienced a 20 percent rise in homicide rates. Not one of the 27 metros with high concentration of immigrants from the NTCA region is within the top ten of the most violent metros in the United States.

 

Northern Triangle Immigration and Homicides

Data Source: US. Census, FBI Uniform Crime Report

 

The brutal gang of El Salvadoran origins, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and claims of it infiltrating American communities, has received high level attention in social and news media. Ms. Blanchard compiled data to understand the scope and reach of this transnational gang to ascertain its potential ability to disrupt the stability and security of the nation. In her study, Ms. Blanchard found that according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), approximately ten thousand MS-13 members inhabit the United States, amounting to 0.3 percent of the overall U.S. population.[3] By comparison, there are approximately 1.4 million gang members living in the United States that make up more than 33,000 gangs.[4]  The Cato Institute reports that 0.1 percent of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrests at the border mid-year in 2018 were MS-13 gang members, similar to the statistics from prior years.[5] Of the 1.2 million violent crime offenses committed in the United States between 2012 and 2017, 345 were committed by members of the MS-13 gang.[6] Therefore, the author contends that although a legitimate concern for the communities which it inhabits, this criminal organization does not have the potential to disrupt the security of the United States as a whole. She suggests that the violence of this subgroup of a subgroup should be addressed at a local level and separated from the immigration dialogue. Ms. Blanchard contends that the conflating of all immigrants with the MS-13 gang, as has been done repeatedly through President Trump’s tweets and speeches, is unfounded and problematic.

The author offers several policy recommendations to address the surge in Central American migration, to reduce the burden on host countries, and to facilitate balanced immigration dialogue. First, the author suggests engaging media, community, and non-governmental organizations in an effort to balance the dialogue surrounding the migrants and inform the American public of the extent of the threat, thus encouraging fact-based immigration policy-making and aiding in the migrants’ assimilation. The author also urges these groups to highlight the positive results occurring in the Northern Triangle region to audiences in both in the NTCA and the United States. She contends that the hopelessness that drives migrants from their homes could be replaced with increased confidence in local governance and civic action to support the ongoing efforts towards stability and economic opportunities.

Ms. Blanchard calls on the United States government to offer sustained and increasing support to sending communities to reduce the push factors of migration. In addition, Ms. Blanchard urges the United States to support other host countries to create additional safe havens in the region through the offsetting of the onboarding costs and engaging in cooperative security initiatives. She points out that if Mexico is unable to shoulder the burden of absorbing the new arrivals or if the migrants are unable to find safe haven in Mexico, the United States is obligated by international law to hear their asylum claims on U.S. soil. Another recommendation the author offers is to give priority to bilateral workforce development initiatives that have the potential to reduce the need to migrate northward. Finally, Ms. Blanchard suggests that the United States reevaluates the traditional resettlement-based international refugee policy and consider a development-based one, which can transform refugees from a burden to a benefit for the host country.

 

 

Works Cited

[1] Times, The New York. 2019. “Full Transcripts: Trump’s Speech on Immigration and the Democratic Response.” The New York Times, January 9, 2019, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/us/politics/trump-speech-transcript.html.

[2] Lesser, G, and J Batalova. “Central American Immigrants in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute, April 5, 2017.

[3] Cara Labrador, R., and D. Renwick. “Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle.” Council on Foreign Relations, June 26, 2018, Backgrounder edition. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/central-americas-violent-northern-triangle.

[4] “2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.” U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment.

[5] Bier, David. 2018. “0.1% of Border Patrol Arrests Are MS-13.” https://www.cato.org/blog/01-border-patrol-arrests-are-ms-13.

[6] Vaughan. n.d. “MS-13 Resurgence: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Take Back Our Streets.” Center for Immigration Studies. Accessed October 26, 2018. https://cis.org/Report/MS13-Resurgence-Immigration-Enforcement-Needed-Take-Back-Our-Streets.

Panel analyzes the 2018 Mexican Election

From left to right, moderator Dr. David A. Shirk and election panelists, Amb. Jeffrey Davidow, Dr. Victor Espinoza, Dr. Clare Seelke, and Dr. Emily Edmonds-Poli.

From left to right: moderator Dr. David A. Shirk and panelists, Amb. Jeffrey Davidow, Dr. Victor Espinoza, Dr. Clare Seelke, and Dr. Emily Edmonds-Poli.

10/03/2018 (written by Rita Kuckertz) – On Thursday, September 20, 2018  Justice in Mexico, in collaboration with the University of San Diego’s Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) program, hosted a panel of experts in order to discuss the significance of Mexico’s 2018 Presidential Election and what to expect from the incoming administration. Panelists included Clare Seelke of the Congressional Research Service; Dr. Victor Espinoza, Director of the Department of Public Administration at the Northern Border College (El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, COLEF); Amb. Jeffrey Davidow, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; and Dr. Emily Edmonds-Poli, faculty member in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego (USD). Dr. David A. Shirk, Director of Justice in Mexico and the Master of Arts in International Relations program, moderated the panel discussion.

A Watershed Election

Each guest speaker shared their expertise on the topic of Mexican politics in order to reflect on the nature and outcomes of Mexico’s July 1st vote. Given the exceptional nature of these elections, Dr. Shirk asked the panel of experts to especially consider the historic upset of traditional party alignments, the future of the U.S.-Mexico relationship, and the observed increase in political violence leading up to July, 2018.
Clare Seelke explained the triumph of Morena party candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the result of the public’s desire for radical political change. Seelke posited that other candidates running for the Mexican presidency, including Ricardo Anaya and José Antonio Meade, were essentially the same in the public eye. According to Seelke, the simple fact of López Obrador’s singularity amidst other traditional candidates may explain the “magnitude of the victory” at approximately 53% of the total vote.

The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations

Reflecting on the implications of this outcome, Seelke questioned the future of U.S.-Mexico relations in the context of the shared drug and security crisis, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Mexico’s energy reform enacted during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s tenure. While Mexico has collaborated with the United States on each of these dimensions under Peña Nieto’s term from 2012 to 2018, Seelke expressed uncertainty regarding future bilateral cooperation on these matters.

The Vote from Abroad

Dr. Victor Espinoza from COLEF spoke at length about the significance of votes from abroad during the 2018 election. He explained that since 2006, there have been a total of twenty-six presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial, and local elections that allowed voters to participate from abroad. However, increasingly, the percentage of eligible voters living outside of Mexico has declined since 2006. In the July elections, Dr. Espinoza noted that this figure was “infinitesimal,” at less than 1% turnout. With 97% of eligible abroad voters living in the United States, this raises questions about the specific factors that have so drastically reduced the participation of eligible Mexican voters there. However, as Dr. Espinoza explained, other trends characterizing the abroad vote in previous elections were reversed; while Mexican voters living outside the country typically opt for conservative candidates, in 2018, the vote leaned left with Morena’s López Obrador.

Radical Change or Return to Ruling Party Politics?

While a historic election, Former Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow argued that, in general, we tend to overanalyze the election of politicians. According to Amb. Davidow, López Obrador won the election because the vast majority of Mexicans who registered to vote were disillusioned with traditional political parties. Concerned about high levels of corruption and what they perceived to be a “rigged” system, the Mexican public opted for a new approach to politics. As such, Amb. Davidow argued that voters did not necessarily stand behind all of López Obrador’s policies; they simply wanted to prevent traditional party candidates from entering office.

However, despite his candidacy representing a change in the political order to many Mexicans, Amb. Davidow argued that López Obrador’s policies are reminiscent of the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (Partido Revolucionario Insitutional, PRI) “ruling party” politics of the 1970s and 1980s. In his words, Amb. Davidow described López Obrador as “[tending] to view Mexican politics and policies not as a radical, but as someone who has never really accepted the modernization of Mexico.” Thus, while some have likened the incoming president to Hugo Chávez, Amb. Davidow argues that López Obrador hardly fits this characterization. Much like his PRI predecessors, López Obrador’s platform rests on the centralization of authority and the invigoration of state enterprises. As such, recent reforms, such as the historic energy and criminal procedure reforms, may see changes under the new administration. As Amb. Davidow put it, “Will it be devastating? We don’t know. But it will be different.”

Looking Ahead: Implications of an AMLO Presidency

Dr. Emily Edmonds-Poli, adding to Amb. Davidow’s analysis, reminded those in attendance that López Obrador was once a “staunch priista,” and much of his political behavior today is similar to that of thirty years ago. However, despite López Obrador’s steadfastness, Dr. Edmonds-Poli argued that his election was unprecedented in Mexico’s democratic era. As she explained, historically, those observing Mexican politics have argued that no candidate would ever win with a majority in the multi-party system, especially with a majority in Congress. Thus, the July 1 election was unprecedented in and of itself.

Given his election by majority, Dr. Edmonds-Poli contended that López Obrador does indeed have a mandate. However, what remains to be seen is whether the future president will be able to successfully fulfill this mandate. According to Dr. Edmonds-Poli, the stakes are certainly high; with the “groundswell of excitement” that accompanied the rise of Morena, López Obrador supporters (i.e., the majority of those who participated in the July 1 elections) are expectant of change. Should the future president remain in his 1970s political mold, this could severely damage not only his base of support and future legacy, but also, Mexico’s democracy itself. As Dr. Edmonds-Poli reminded viewers, recent public opinion polls found that only 49% of people expressed faith in democracy in Mexico. As such, given this fragile perception, any failure by the incoming government to fulfill its imperatives could inflict significant wounds on Mexican democracy. As with all matters discussed throughout the course of the panel, analysts will have to wait until December 1 to reevaluate Mexico’s course moving forward.

Please find the archived Facebook Live video below:

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Exitoso IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales

09/25/2018 (escrito por Alejandro Morán) – Durante los días 6 y 7 de septiembre de 2018, se llevó a cabo el IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales en el marco del programa Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersion Seminar. El evento fue organizado por el programa Justice in Mexico de la Universidad de San Diego en colaboración con la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), la Universidad de Guadalajara (UdeG), la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), y el Instituto Belisario Domínguez del Senado de la República. En el evento de dos días de duración, se expusieron temas relevantes al funcionamiento y la evaluación del Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorio (SJPA) en México.

Dr. Sergio García Ramírez analiza el NSJP en IV Simposium

Conferencia Magistral del Doctor Sergio García Ramírez

El Simposium dio inicio con una Conferencia Magistral a cargo del Doctor Sergio García Ramírez en la que desarrolló un profundo análisis del SJPA. El Dr. García Ramírez habló acerca de las herencias de los siglos pasados, la liberal y la positivista y la necesidad de armonizarlas. Criticó al sistema de justicia como uno punitivo y no de justicia, haciendo énfasis en la palabra reinserción dentro del sistema y expuso la necesidad de generar especial énfasis en la seguridad humana y la justicia formal. De igual forma García Ramírez cuestionó la capacidad operativa de los principales actores dentro del sistema, usando una analogía de una obra de teatro, brindando especial atención a la figura del policía como “el actor principal de la obra”.

En el panel“Retos y avances en el sistema de justicia en México”,   el ex Embajador de México en los Estados Unidos, Miguel Basáñez, expuso los resultados de un programa de capacitación a jueces mexicanos llevado a cabo en las ciudades de Boston (E.E.U.U.), Santiago (Chile) y Bogotá (Colombia) que permitieron identificar los 15 eslabones principales para poder afianzar la transición al SJPA: 1) respaldo político total; 2) exigencia de la sociedad civil; 3) reformas legales; 4) plataforma informático-tecnológica; 5) responsabilidad mediática;  ; 6) apoyo académico; 7) colegiación obligatoria; 8) profesionalización de policías; 9) profesionalización de fiscalía y defensoría; 10) Infraestructura; 11) símbolos e incentivos a operadores; 12) estadística; 13) capacitación permanente; 14) administración especializada; y 15) ejecución de penas y sistemas carcelarios.  Dentro de ellos, el Embajador Basáñez destacó como los principales el respaldo político y el apoyo de la sociedad civil. Posteriormente, la Doctora María de los Ángeles Fromow Rangel, ex Directora de la Secretaría Técnica para la Implementación del Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorio (SETEC), se enfocó en la importancia de establecer un modelo de conformación del servicio profesional de carrera, sobre un sana y operativa trilogía de investigación (policía, ministerio público y peritos), así como en la importancia de homogenizar las carpetas de investigación en el país. Por su parte, el Maestro Juventino Pérez Gómez, encargado de la Fiscalía Especializada para la Atención a Delitos de Alto Impacto en el estado de Oaxaca, mencionó que para la etapa de consolidación del sistema se tienen que considerar las relaciones de los principales operadores, poniendo especial análisis en la relación ministerio público-policía, recalcando que aún falta un plan de investigación, y además, que existen problemas serios en la operación del SJPA, en especial en el caso de Oaxaca y sus 570 municipios. Asimismo el Mtro. Pérez Gómez se unió a la conclusión del importante papel que juegan la sociedad civil, y las partes en general dentro del proceso.

En la mesa panel “Justicia en Marcha” se expusieron los resultados preliminares de un proyecto de investigación estadística del SJPA desarrollado por Justice in Mexico, el cual reúne a un grupo de destacados egresados de la UNAM que además, fueron participantes en los distintos seminarios de litigación que dicho programa de la Universidad de San Diego, lleva a cabo a través de su proyecto OASIS. En la mesa, moderada por el  Maestro Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, el Licenciado Alfredo Ramírez Percastre comenzó resaltando la falta de indicadores suficientes para evaluar el SJPA de una manera eficiente y que los existentes no son útiles para el diagnóstico. El ponente presentó los resultados de una encuesta piloto sobre los retos y losgros del SJPA, y señaló como principales retos la corrupción, los medios obsoletos de investigación y la no utilización de mecanismos alternativos. De la misma forma resaltó mayor honestidad en los operadores, comparando con indicadores que sugieren que el 76% de los operadores afirman sentirse preparados para el SJPA a diferencia del 93% de los operadores encuestados en 2016 por Justice in Mexico, a través de la iniciativa Justiciabarómetro. Acto seguido, El Licenciado Héctor Esteban García destacó varios problemas actuales en la operación del SJPA, como es el poco uso del procedimiento abreviado que en México apenas alcanza un 40% mientras que en otros sistemas (por ejemplo en los Estados Unidos) la media nacional sería de un 93 a un 97 porciento. También se identificó el uso excesivo de la prisión preventiva en varios estados de la república, destacando a Jalisco con un 46 porciento de uso de la medida precautoriua y a Puebla con un 41 porciento. Como parte de la misma iniciativa “Justicia en Marcha”, el Maestro Juan García expuso los resultados de un estudio comparado de casos tanto en el sistema tradicional, como en el SJPA, en donde cotejó diversos aspectos dentro de ambos sistemas, como las duración del  proceso; el tamaño de los expedientes en cuanto su número de fojas; así como la cantidad de pruebas presentadas en juicio. El maestro García destacó una mayor rapidez y eficiencia del SJPA, en donde, sólo por mencionar un ejemplo, se excluyen un gran número de pruebas irrelevantes, a diferencia de lo que ocurría en el sistema tradicional. Para cerrar dicho panel, la Licenciada Pamela Soto Valdivieso, habló de la importancia de la capacitación de los operadores, y destacando que, de acuerdo a los resultados preliminares de la iniciativa “Justicia en Marcha”, apenas el 23 por ciento de capacitaciones son realizadas por parte del gobierno federal, mientras que el 77 por ciento,  son realizadas por instituciones extranjeras, como lo es OASIS. Con respecto a esta iniciativa de capacitación de Justice in Mexico, la Lic. Soto anunció el desarrollo de un manual para la capacitación en destrezas de litigación oral, que contendrá todos los elementos  del procedimiento, y cual estará disponible para todo el público.

Estudiantes, profesores y académicos del derecho se sumaron a la discusión del IV Simposium

Más de 200 profesores, estudiantes y académicos atendieron al IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales

El primer día de actividades concluyó con el panel “Riesgos de contra reforma”, moderado por la Maestra Susana Martínez Hernández, investigadora del Instituto Belisario Dominguez. En dicho  panel, el Mtro. Carlos Ríos Espinosa, investigador de Human Rights Watch y experto en reforma penal, expuso sobre la historia de la reforma y su recibimiento, abundando en los intentos de contra reforma desde 2014. El Mtro. Ríos Espinosa comentó acerca de la ampliación de un régimen de excepción dentro del mismo SJPA, en el que “se crea un régimen paralelo al sistema y este sólo lo entorpece generando leyes que violan DDHH” y puso como ejemplo la ley de seguridad interior. Según Ríos Espinosa, otro factor altamente problemático es el de las resoluciones de los jueces que tienden a ser contrarias al sistema, lo que genera que la credibilidad social se pierda.  A su vez, el Dr. Carlos Galindo, investigador del Instituto Belisario Domínguez, expuso cómo se ha ido modificando el SJPA atendiendo a temas políticos y a presión social, como en el caso de Chihuahua, que a pesar de no haber redactado originalmente un catálogo para la prisión preventiva oficiosa, a raíz de un caso se terminó por redactar uno, como ha ocurrido en todos los estados del país. El Dr. Galindo habló  también de varios casos de intentos de contra reforma de baja escala, como el último del 30 de agosto del presente año, que propone introducir los delitos de corrupción al catálogo de prisión preventiva oficiosa. Haciendo eco de la misma problemática, la Maestra María Novoa, Coordinadora del Programa de Justicia, en México Evalúa, comentó  resaltó la presión social en contra del SJPA, e identificó varios factores (como el incremento en la violencia) que se han relacionado de manera imprecisa con la implementación del SJPA y del principio de presunción de inocencia, provocando que:  “socialmente se [haya] generado la idea de que a más encarcelados, más justicia”, lo que harepercutido de manera negativa en las resoluciones de los jueces, pues a nivel federal, manifestó Novoa, “7 de 10 solicitudes de prisión preventiva son otorgadas y a nivel estatal 9 de 10”. Novoa además desarrolló otros temas importantes como el fenómeno de la puerta giratoria, el tema de la reincidencia delictiva, concluyendo que lo anterior ocurren en un mayoría por una mala operación y falta de implementación, más que por un problema del sistema en sí, poniendo en evidencia que, por ejemplo, de las 32 Unidades de Medidas Cautelares (OMECAS) posibles, a la fecha sólo existen tres en el país.

El segundo día de actividades del Simposium inició con la mesa panel: “Reformas procesales en Latinoamérica”, moderada por el Mtro. Pablo Héctor González Villalobos, Magistrado Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Chihuahua, en la cual se expusieron las perspectivas comparadas de Chile, Colombia y Argentina, en sus reformas procesales. El Maestro Claudio Pávlic, defensor público en la reforma chilena, abrió la mesa hablando de la implementación del sistema en Chile en el 2000, y de cómo desde los cinco años de su entrada en vigor ya se veía una considerable disminución en la población penitenciaria. Expuso que consideraba  como factores importantes el hecho de que existió un apoyo político significativo, de que había transparencia y publicidad en las audiencias—lo cual provocó críticas de los medios de comunicación y del público en general que detonaron cambios importantes al sistema. De la misma forma, Pavlic destacó la gran cantidad de información estadística disponible, que identificaba los problemas del sistema y la evaluación de los operadores, esta última realizada por inspectores que eran los mismos operadores del sistema. Posteriormente, La Mtra. Ana María Ramos, Directora Ejecutiva de la Corporación Excelencia en la Justicia, expuso que existen serios problemas con el sistema colombiano, siendo el problema principal la eficacia. Dijo también que existe un descontento social que ha generado que se promuevan reformas como reducción de beneficios al imputado o quitar el procedimiento abreviado, que terminan por entorpecer el sistema. Ramos advirtió que identifica muchas similitudes en las discusiones actuales en México con las que Colombia tuvo hace unos años. Por último, el Dr. Máximo Langer, Director del Programa de Justicia Penal en la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA), señaló que existen problemas parecidos en Argentina y en México. Mencionó que si bien la celeridad de los procesos aumentó, aún existen problemas en cuanto a la investigación, particularmente de los delitos graves, e igualmente identificó la eficacia como el principal problema de los sistemas de corte acusatorio. El Dr. Langer continuó hablando de la importancia del procedimiento abreviado y dijo que, para muchos, es este el sistema, y no tanto la oralidad del proceso. Según Langer, apenas el 45 por ciento de los casos en Argentina, se van por esta vía.

UNAM, UANL y BUAP discuten planes de estudio durante IV Simposium

Directores de las Facultades de Derecho discuten los retos a la reforma de planes de estudios

El Simposium concluyó con el panel “Retos en la reforma a los planes de estudio”, que reunió a directores de las facultades de derecho de la UNAM, el Dr. Raúl Contreras Bustamante; la UANL, el Mtro. Oscar Lugo Serrato; y la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), Dr. Luis Ochoa Bilboa; y moderada por la Maestra Trilce Ovilla Bueno, Coordinadora de Asuntos Internacionales y Multidisciplinarios en la Facultad de Derecho de la UNAM, en la que se analizaron los retos de la reforma a los planes de estudio en las facultades de derecho mexicanas. Dr. Raúl Contreras expuso los cambios que se han generado en la UNAM respecto a su plan de estudios. Comentó que la Facultad busca un enfoque transversal enfocado en temas como los derechos humanos, la equidad de género y las convenciones internacionales,  poniendo especial atención en los temas de la constitucionalidad y la convencionalidad. Afirmó que se buscan sistemas de estudio flexibles y  rescató el hecho de la autonomía de la UNAM para realizar estas acciones a diferencia de otras instituciones internacionales. El Mtro. Oscar Lugo expuso que en la UANL se ha estudiado el perfil que se necesita para el abogado, y que se ha buscado un estudio multidisciplinario adecuándose a los cambios al sistema de justicia, introduciendo materias como la de Mecanismos Alternativos de Solución de Controversias (MASC) , así como la materia de litigación oral, como obligatoria para los ocho mil estudiantes de la licenciatura de derecho de la UANL. Por último, el Dr. Luis Ochoa se enocó en la renovación de los planes de estudio que se lleva a cabo cada 5 años en la BUAP. Sin embrago el Ochoa alertó sobre la poca cantidad de investigadores con los que cuenta la carrera de Derecho en la BUAP, y sobre  “resistencia por investigar”, en donde los alumnos dan mayor importancia a las cuestiones prácticas que enseñan los abogados litigantes, antes que en el desarrollo de investigación original, concluyendo que este es un problema importante para la implementación y modernización de de planes de estudio a la luz del SJPA.

El IV Simposium Internacional sobre Sistemas de Justicia Orales Adversariales marcó la conclusión de otro exitoso año de actividades del proyecto OASIS de Justice in Mexico de la Universidad de San Diego, en su colaboración con las facultades públicas de derecho más grandes de México. En los próximos meses, el proyecto estará arrancando los Talleres de Litigación Oral en la UANL, la UdeG y la BUAP, continuando con su esfuerzo permanente para la actualización y capacitación continua de los operadores del sistema de justicia en México.