Violence in Mexico has been on the rise and it is increasingly difficult to understand. Though popular portrayals of the bloodshed depict it as a product of Hollywood-esque conflicts between cartels, experts now recognize that the drivers of violence are more nuanced.
The Mexico Violence Resource Project, a new initiative from the University of California San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, launched last fall with the goal of facilitating better analysis of the facts on the ground. The project recently announced a partnership with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime to support new research and policy advocacy on issues surrounding violence, crime and governance in Mexico.
The new funding from the Global Initiative will allow the research effort to establish new projects with journalists and other partners in Mexico. Working outside the daily news cycle, these collaborators will conduct investigations into the causes and consequences of violence in regions, which are often rarely examined and poorly understood.
“The Mexico Violence Resource Project is a collaborative effort to connect researchers, policymakers, civil society and the media and provide clear analysis of security issues in Mexico,” said Rafael Fernández de Castro, director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (USMEX), which is based at the School of Global Policy and Strategy. “We are very grateful for the support from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the innovative partnership we have formed with the organization on its first long-term project researching crime and violence in Mexico.”
The agreement represents a major step in expanding the Global Initiative’s work in Latin America. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the partnership with USMEX signifies a commitment from the organization to produce original insights on the causes, consequences of, and responses to organized crime in Mexico.
“Mexico is a key country to understand the transnational dynamics of organized crime,” said Mark Shaw, director of Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. “It is also a great place to learn about resilience and community responses to crime. This partnership will help us further our dialogues with the different actors engaged in countering violence and its effects on local communities.”
The Mexico Violence Resource Project serves as a reliable go-to source for statistics on crime and violence, providing information such as the number of homicides, missing persons, costs of violence, judicial records, firearm information and more. With the new partnership, the project will broaden its data collection and mapping efforts to generate new evidence-driven analysis on trends in crime.
One of the first initiatives from the partnership will be a dossier explaining violence in Tijuana.
“Because of where we are located, we really want to leverage our collective expertise to explore what is going on here in the region,” said Cecilia Farfan-Mendez, head of Security Research Programs at USMEX and co-founder of the Mexico Violence Resource Project.
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The research in Tijuana will take a similar approach to the project’s analysis of violence and organized crime in Culiacán. On the one-year anniversary of the daylong clash between security forces and Sinaloa cartel gunmen, the project offered new insights from researchers as well as members of Culiacán community who witnessed the events.
The events in Sinaloa were widely covered when cartel gunmen successfully thwarted the government’s attempt to arrest one of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons. One year later, the Mexico Violence Resource Project featured more in depth analysis including a photo essay from Héctor Parra, first-person accounts, and an artistic interpretation of the timeline of events from artists with Machateo Studio.
With the support of Global Initiative, the project will be able to strengthen collaborations with photographers, artists, and civil society activists to take a deeper look at violence in Tijuana and the larger Mexico region, beyond a narrative that almost exclusively focuses on narcotrafficking.
“This gives us the opportunity to help journalists work outside the news cycle, and work on in-depth stories that would not otherwise be developed,” said Michael Lettieri, senior fellow for Human Rights at USMEX and project cofounder. “These on-the-ground relationships are at the heart of the mission of the Mexico Violence Resource Project, and a core part of the Global Initiative’s strategy.”