The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: 2014 in Review and the Year Ahead | Wilson Center
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The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: 2014 in Review and the Year Ahead

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

The end of 2014 marked the second full year of Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term as Mexico’s president. While last year saw a victory for his administration with the February arrest of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, President Peña Nieto was also faced with major challenges and substantial public frustration due to Mexico’s on-going rule of law and security problems. 

Many of these challenges pre-date the current administration. Indeed, over the last decade, Mexico has faced continuous law enforcement and security challenges, due to heightened violent crime and limited institutional capacity in the criminal justice sector. The challenges include improving basic law enforcement, confronting powerful organized crime networks, professionalizing police and judicial sector, protecting human rights, and promoting a culture of lawfulness.

Yet, 2014 added new dimensions to the security picture. Despite significant reductions in violence in certain parts of the country, nine of Mexico’s cities ranked in the top 50 most violent cities worldwide, according to a study carried out last year by the Mexican organization Security, Justice, and Peace (Seguridad, Justicia y Paz). Meanwhile, the Mexican federal government intervened in Michoacán to address conflicts between vigilante self defense groups and local organized crime groups. The tragic killing and disappearance of student protestors in Guerrero, as well as the discovery of mass graves containing dozens of human remains, provoked massive outrage. Another, less measurable impact of organized crime-related violence has been the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Mexican citizens from their homes, as estimated by a number of human rights organizations.

To provide a careful examination of these security challenges, the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted its Second Annual Mexican Security Review, a forum with leading policy analysts from the United States and Mexico from 2:00pm to 5:30pm on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Of particular interest were the available indicators of crime trends, analysis of the specific policy measures of the Peña Nieto administration, and the efforts of civil society to confront recent security problems in Mexico. 


Introduction and Background Discussion

  • Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute
  • David Shirk, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute

Panel 1: Crime, Violence, & Security in 2014

  • David Shirk, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute
  • Chris Kyle, Associate Professor, University of Alabama
  • Kathryn Haahr, Specialist, International Security Threat and Risk Management
  • Moderator: John Bailey, Emeritus Professor, Georgetown University

Panel 2: Policy Implications for the Peña Nieto Administration

  • Christopher Wilson, Senior Associate, Mexico Institute
  • Sandra Ley, Visiting Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Alejandro Hope, Director de Política de Seguridad, IMCO
  • Steven Dudley, Co-Director, InSight Crime
  • Moderator: Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute


To view Alejandro Hope's presentation, click here.


  • Duncan Wood

    Director, Mexico Institute
  • David Shirk

    Global Fellow
    Associate Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, University of San Diego; Director, Trans-Border Institute, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego.
  • Chris Kyle

    Associate Professor, University of Alabama
  • Kathryn Haahr

  • John Bailey

    Professor, Georgetown University
  • Christopher Wilson

    Deputy Director, Mexico Institute
  • Sandra Ley

    Visiting Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Alejandro Hope

    Editor, Security and Justice, El Daily Post
  • Steven Dudley

    Former Fellow
    Co-Director, InSight Crime
  • Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales

    Minister for Public Affairs, Embassy of Mexico in the U.S.