A lecture by Dr Alejandro Hope, Director of Proyecto MC2 (Menos Crimen, Menos Castigo), a joint security policy initiative of two Mexico City-based think tanks, the Mexican Competitiveness Institute (IMCO) and México Evalúa.
Over the past five years, Mexico has experienced an unprecedented surge in criminal violence. Between 2007 and 2010, the homicide rate tripled, the number of kidnappings almost quadrupled, and extortion reached epidemic proportions. There is a lively debate, both in Mexico and abroad, as to the causes of this phenomenon, but, until recently, there was a consensus that violence would remain at high levels for the foreseeable future. Conventional wisdom posited that criminal violence would not recede until Mexican institutions completed a massive, decades-long overhaul. However, over the past nine months, the tide has seemingly turned and the number of homicides has declined gradually but steadily.
What are the drivers behind this unexpected development? Is this just a brief pause in an upward trajectory or are we seeing the beginning of the end of Mexico's security crisis? If the latter, what does that say about the nature of Mexican organised crime and the response of the Mexican state to its challenge? Is it wrong to compare Colombia's drug war between the 1980s and early 2000s with Mexico's crackdown on organised crime? Is the drug violence spreading through Central America? Are there lessons to be transferred to other countries facing high-levels of organised-crime-related violence?
Dr Alejandro Hope is a political scientist who holds a PhD from Princeton University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his current assignment, between 2008 and 2011, he held a number of executive positions at the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN), Mexico's civilian intelligence agency. Between 2001 and 2008, he was a partner at GEA Grupo de Economistas y Asociados, a leading Mexico City-based economic and political consulting firm. From 1998 through 2000, he served as chief of staff of Senator Adolfo Aguilar Zinser and worked in the transition team of then President elect Vicente Fox. Between 1994 and 1996, he held a number of junior staff positions at BANOBRAS, a Mexican infrastructure development bank, as well as in the Ministry of Energy. He is a frequent contributor at a number of Mexican media outlets, including Milenio Diario, The Economist and Nexos, and runs a security policy blog (www.animalpolitico.com/blogueros-plata-o-plomo).
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