Citizen Security & Organized Crime

Latin American Program in the News: Time is right, but past failures haunt Colombia peace talks

Aug 30, 2012
Santos has made ending the conflict a goal of his administration, and the challenge has been operating under conditions that are conducive for meaningful talks and not for a charade.

Latin American Program in the News: Colombia exploring peace talks with FARC

Aug 30, 2012
The Colombian government says it has embarked on “exploratory talks” with rebel commanders to end one of the world’s oldest armed conflicts.

Latin American Program in the News: Is Colombia's conflict coming to an end?

Aug 30, 2012
Director Cynthia Arnson was invited onto Al-Jazeera to discuss the negotiations with FARC insurgents begun by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Americans Shot in Mexico Were C.I.A. Operatives Aiding in Drug War

Aug 29, 2012
The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday...The Mexico Institute's Eric L. Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico Says Police Shot U.S. Officials

Aug 28, 2012
Vice President for Programs and Senior Advisor of the Mexico Institute, Andrew Selee comments on Friday mornings incident in which two employees of the U.S. embassy in Mexico City were shot by Mexican federal police who may have confused them for organized crime members.

Mexico Institute in the News: Amid drug war, Mexico homicide rate up for fourth straight year

Aug 22, 2012
Mexico Institute's Eric Olson provided commentary on this story about Mexico's homicide rate. This article was also published in UPI.com and on Hispanic Business.

Mexico Institute in the News: With a lull in violence, Ciudad Juárez looks for a comeback

Aug 22, 2012
Eric Olson provided commentary on this story in a drop in violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Mexico Institute in the News: Sharp drop in the murder rate in Juarez, thanks to the cartels?

Aug 22, 2012
Eric Olson and Molly Molloy comment on the drop in murder rates in Juarez, Mexico for “AirTalk.”

Mexico Institute in the News: Van tras la pista de 'El Chapo'

Aug 16, 2012
Mexico Institute Associate Chris Wilson was quoted on the recent application of the Kingpin Act to three individuals in Belize with links to the transnational criminal organization led by El Chapo Guzman. This article is in Spanish.

Latin American Program in the News: Former Presidents Arias and Cerezo and OAS Secretary General Insulza Commemorate the Anniversary of the Esquipulas Agreements

Aug 14, 2012
Cynthia Arnson participated in the 49th Lecture of the Americas on the theme “25 Years After the Esquipulas Agreements: Opportunities and Challenges in Central America.”

Latin American Program in the News: Central American peace accord celebrates 25 years, but has it brought peace?

Aug 09, 2012
Twenty-five years have passed since the Esquipulas peace agreement signing, which ended political turmoil but did not lead to peaceful societies.

Latin American Program in the News: As Central America heads towards lawlessness a new drug strategy is needed

Aug 02, 2012
The growing drug problem has brought increased attention to Central America. A change in U.S. policy is necessary to help the region, and with such change there is potential to reduce the problem.

Mexico Institute in the News: Nombres y apellidos en Rapido y Furioso

Aug 02, 2012
Program Asssociate Christopher Wilson was interviewed by MSN Latino about the new report released by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley on the botched anti-weapons trafficking operation, Fast and Furious. Both interviews were conducted in Spanish.

Latin American Program in the News: OEA presencia desarme de pandillas en El Salvador

Jul 31, 2012
The largest gangs in El Salvador, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, have asked for the help of the Organization of American States in the peace process.

Latin American Program in the News: White House says Colombia not leader in cocaine

Jul 31, 2012
The White House Office on National Drug Control Policy said that Colombia is no longer the largest producer of cocaine in the world. Peru and Bolivia produced more cocaine in 2011 than Colombia.
Cynthia J. Arnson

Latin American Program in the News: Coca planting rises in Colombia, cocaine production falls

Jul 27, 2012
Colombia saw an increase from the previous year in the amount of coca planted in 2011 though the amount of cocaine produced fell.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico's Drug Murders Down 15-20 Percent, President Says

Jul 16, 2012
Homicides in Mexico have dropped 15 percent to 20 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period of 2011, according to Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Mexico Institute's Eric Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Rise in Pill Abuse Forces New Look at U.S. Drug Fight

Jul 16, 2012
America’s drug problem is shifting from illicit substances like cocaine to abuse of prescription painkillers, a change that is forcing policy makers to re-examine the long and expensive strategy of trying to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States. Mexico Institute's Eric Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Elite units proposed to tackle Mexico crime

Jul 08, 2012
The top security adviser for Mexico’s next president said on Friday that he is recommending the creation of elite units of police and troops who will target not just major drug traffickers but also lower-level cartel hitmen as a way of swiftly reducing violence...The Mexico Institute's Eric Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: New Mexican president could target small gangs

Jul 05, 2012
Mexico's next president has boldly promised to halve the number of kidnappings and murders during his six-year term by moving law enforcement away from showy drug busts and focusing on protecting ordinary citizens from gangs. The Mexico Institute's Eric Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Kings of War - Mexican Cartels: Crime or Terrorism?

Jul 02, 2012
Whereas high homicide rates are common side-effects of drug conflicts throughout Latin America, Mexico has caught the world’s attention due to the brutality that has come to dominate cartel tactics. Despite the widespread assumption that organized crime belongs to a completely different category of threat, it has become clear that brutal violence in Mexico has many similarities to terrorism tactics. In this analysis of Mexican cartels, Antonio Sampaio cites Eric Olson’s report entitled “Considering New Strategies for Confronting Organized Crime in Mexico.”

Mexico Institute in the News: Outgoing President Calderon reportedly fears staying in Mexico

Jul 01, 2012
For the commander-in-chief of Mexico's U.S.-backed drug war to suggest he has not provided enough security to live in his country is a stunning revelation. This article looks at general public attitudes towards the outgoing administration and the incoming PRI administration. "Pena Nieto essentially proposes much the same policies that Calderon himself has endorsed," said Andrew Selee, Director of Mexico the Institute. "But in the case of PRI, they promise to get things done."

Mexico Institute in the News: A new anti-drug strategy in Mexico?

Jun 26, 2012
This post recommends four possible counter-violence strategies, and cites Associate Director of the Mexico Institute Eric Olson’s recent report when it suggests that the Mexican government could target the most violent trafficking groups.

Mexico Institute in the News: No clear choice in Mexico’s election for new president amid drug wars

Jun 22, 2012
Three towns, three horrors — and business as usual in the Mexican drug wars.As the country’s 114 million long-suffering citizens stumble toward presidential elections set for July 1, drug crime remains the issue uppermost in their minds — and no wonder. Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Mexico Institute, comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexican Presidential Candidates: Change is Needed to Stop Drug Wars

Jun 11, 2012
Could it be that the Mexican people have finally had enough with the drug wars in Mexico? Enough to scrap the current policy of pitting the Mexican army against the drug lords and cartels? The Mexico Institute's Eric L. Olson comments.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico election: Economy matters as much as security

Jun 11, 2012
As Mexico's presidential race enters its home stretch towards the vote on 1 July, the issue of drug-related violence has not, as widely expected, dominated the campaign. The Mexico Institute's Duncan Wood explains how the economy is as important as security.

Latin American Program in the News: Why is Venezuela so violent?

Jun 05, 2012
Venezuela, which had over 19,000 murders last year, has banned private gun ownership. Only army, police, and certain security companies will be allowed to purchase guns.

Mexico Institute in the News: 5 bodies found in Ariz may be latest drug violence

Jun 04, 2012
Five bodies were found in the Arizona desert, the authorities suspect Mexican cartel involvement, the Mexico Institute's Eric Olson discusses the probability of more cartel violence on the U.S. side of the border.

Mexico Institute in the News: Drug war key issue in Mexico elections

May 31, 2012
The Mexico Institute's Christopher Wilson comments on the impact of the drug war on the Mexican electorate's preferences in the upcoming election.

Latin American Program in the News: Ex-minister target of Colombian bomb

May 16, 2012
A former top Colombian official survived an assassination attempt on May 15 after a daylight bombing in the country's capital.

Latin American Program in the News: Business: A welcomed new partner in citizen security

Apr 20, 2012
A good effort in this direction is the "Central American Regional Security Policy Center", an initiative by INCAE and the Woodrow Wilson Center, with World Bank and donor support. It proposes a platform for permanent dialogue between stakeholders and governments in order to generate ideas that can feed into policy-making dialogues or processes in a more systematic way.

Mexico Institute in the News: Security 'quagmire' for Mexican presidential candidates

Apr 18, 2012
Many Mexicans are weary of the sharp rise in violence that has accompanied Calderón's military-led strategy against drug traffickers. So why aren't presidential hopefuls offering alternatives?

Latin American Program in the News: Regional Security, Not Iran, a Primary Focus in South America

Apr 17, 2012
According to Arnson, though the issue of Iran is not salient compared to other issues in Latin America, its inconsistent relationship with the region highlights the already existent divisions in attitudes toward the United States. Though countries like Venezuela also reject the influence of the United States worldwide, she says, the broader region does not share Iran's hostilities.

Mexico Institute in the News: Obama Keeps Eye on U.S. Politics at Latin America Summit

Apr 13, 2012
President Barack Obama attended a summit in Latin America that may have as much resonance in domestic politics as in hemispheric economics. Discussions at the meeting of North and South American leaders in the resort city of Cartagena, Colombia, covered trade, economic growth and the battle against drug trafficking.

Latin American Program in the News: Gorilla in the Room: Guatemala Takes the Lead

Apr 12, 2012
Just what that means in practice is harder to say. For a deeper understanding of how Guatemala sees itself within the debate, we turn to Guatemalan Secretary of Planning Fernando Carrera. Carrera is the man who many say is the architect of Perez's proposals on drug-related issues. He recently gave a talk at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars entitled "Drug Policy and Democracy in Central America: A View From Guatemala," that provides a crucial insight into how Guatemala is positioning itself in the ever-turbulent discourse on drug legalization

Latin American Program in the News: Guatemala: capturan presunto jefe narco buscado en EEUU

Apr 06, 2012
On Tuesday Authorities captured alleged drug lord Guatemalan Horst Walther Overdick. “His capture is certainly a welcome development, but its impact on drug trafficking in Guatemala or levels of violence overall remains to be seen. In Mexico, the strategy of going after drug kingpins has been one of the factors contributing to the rise in violence,” Director of the Latin America Program Cynthia Arnson told the Associated press. [Original Article in Spanish]

Mexico Institute in the News: For Mexican police, splashy arrests trump criminal convictions

Apr 04, 2012
Mexican law-enforcement officials routinely parade detainees in public ‘perp walks’ and news conferences in the hope of regaining the trust of a citizenry besieged by organized crime.

Latin American Program in the News: Caracas: “A War Zone”

Apr 03, 2012
“Caracas is the most dangerous capital city in the world, more dangerous than Baghdad,” says Fellow Roberto Briceño Leon, who heads the Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia, a non-government watchdog that monitors crime in the country… Crime has also become more organized and lethal, Briceño Leon says. Chavez’s policies have also facilitated the increase. The president has taken over a number of local police forces, while weakening state governments, especially those whose leaders belong to the opposition.

Mexico Institute in the News: Wilson Center Proposes Hyper-Focused Mexico Crime Strategy

Mar 30, 2012
Mexico may make serious headway in its fight against organized crime by designating one criminal group as the "most violent," and then focusing most of the government's resources against them, according to a new report by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Transnational Crime: The Americas’ Leading Security Threat

Mar 29, 2012
Aiding regional governments with intelligence and training, air and sea patrols, and guiding the interagency process are essential to beating organized crime. SOUTHCOM Commander Douglas M. Fraser discusses strategies to dismantle extortion, kidnapping, and drug-running bands.

Latin American Program in the News: Death of Consul's Daughter Spurs Venezuela Outcry

Mar 20, 2012
Latin American Program Scholar, Roberto Briceño-Leon, comments on high murder rates in Venezuela.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexican Election May Change How War on Drugs is Fought

Mar 09, 2012
Whoever is elected President of Mexico is likely to continue the war on drugs with a strategy that may shift to using more civilian police or a focus on preventing youth from joining cartels.

Mexico Institute in the News: A New Strategy on the Border

Mar 13, 2012
US Border Patrol implements new strategy to secure the border, even though there are critics against it.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico Drug Lord's Fate is Focus of Election Year Speculation

Mar 12, 2012
If Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most wanted drug suspect, were to be captured before the Presidential elections, views of current President Calderón would be better, which would in turn help the PAN candidate.

Mexico Institute in the News: Biden Talks of War on Drugs with Calderón

Mar 06, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Mexican President Calderón and the three presidential candidates. The two governments work closely to fight the War on Drugs; Obama’s administration is hopeful that they will continue to work closely when a new President is elected.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico Prison Riot Leaves 44 Dead

Feb 20, 2012
Prisoners in an overcrowded prison in Nuevo Leon break into a deadly riot, possibly as part of a feud between the Zeta and Gulf cartels.

Mexico Institute in the News: Is Mexico's drug war strategy working?

Feb 16, 2012
President Calderon has used a military approach to combat the drug cartel problem in Mexico. Some wonder if tolerance or legalizing drugs would be a better approach.

Latin American Program in the News: Pérez, abierto a la legalización

Feb 14, 2012
Otto Perez Molina will likely propose drug legalization at the next summit of regional leaders. Dr. Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program, discusses how the initiative comes in response to the frustration over the current drug policy that has defined the region over the past few decades. She argues that even though it may not be implemented, it is a message that is icreasingly becoming part of the discussion in the region. [Article is in Spanish]

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexican Vote May Determine Future of Drug War

Feb 03, 2012
Enrique Pena Nieto, a front-runner in the Mexican presidential race, is in the PRI, which is known for allowing drug cartels power. U.S. policy-makers are concerned for what may happen with the drug war if he wins the election.

Latin American Program on the news: Why would Colombia's FARC sell cows?

Jan 25, 2012
"FARC has been under unrelenting military pressure for over a decade," said Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "But FARC is still an enormously wealthy insurgent organization because of revenues from the drug trade. It still retains a capacity to commit acts of violence and harm people."

Latin American Program in the News: New Guatemala president wants to regain US military aid

Jan 12, 2012
Many in the U.S. are taking a wait-and-see approach to Perez given his military background. President Barack Obama took two weeks to congratulate Perez on his November election victory, something some read as a chilly sign. "They want to sort of say, look, we're prepared to cooperate, but it depends on who is in the government, what priorities they have," said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center in Washington. "It doesn't come with a free ride."

Mexico Institute in the News: Drug-Related Violence Soars in Mexico

Jan 12, 2012
Violence in Mexico continues to increase and spread as the drug war in Mexico continues.

Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico Updates Death Toll in Drug War to 47,515, but Critics Dispute the Data

Jan 11, 2012
The Mexican government released high death toll for drug war. The accuracy of these numbers is questioned.

Mexico Institute in the News: 2011 Drug Violence Kills Nearly 13,000 in Mexico, New Figures Show

Jan 11, 2012
The rate of drug related killings continues to increase, though at a slower rate than in 2010.

Mexico Institute in the News: Have the Zetas Replaced the Sinaloa as Mexico's Most Powerful Cartel?

Jan 03, 2012
While the Zetas now have control in more territory, their power still may not be as strong as the Sinaloa Cartel.

Mexico Institute In the News: García Luna presentará libro sobre seguridad en Washington

Jan 01, 2012
Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, has been featured in the Mexican newspaper "El Diario de Yucatán". The article covered the recent visit by Genaro García Luna to the Woodrow Wilson Center on January 11th, 2012.