Top security officials in Brazil and Mexico are questioning traditional strategies towards combating organized crime, but it’s unlikely that these concerns will translate into real changes on the ground.
Through sharp public statements recently made in Brazil and Mexico, officials seem to be asking broader questions about the ways in which resources are deployed, money is spent and security strategies are implemented.
At a January 31 press conference, Brazil Defense Minister Raul Jungmann spoke about the deteriorating state of Brazilian security, Estadão reported.
“This current system is broken, and what we are experiencing today is the result, not just of financial woes, but of the design of the system itself,” Jungmann said.
Similarly, in an interview with El Universal published February 1, Mexico Federal Police Chief Manelich Castilla Craviotto also criticized the country's prior approach to fighting crime amid the launch of a new strategy aimed at restoring order.
“For a long time our work has been focused on generating security conditions in the areas where violence occurs,” Castilla Craviotto said. “We need to move from an approach focused on fighting criminal structures, often targeting some individuals instead of fully improving the conditions in the places where they were operating.”
Officials in Brazil and Mexico have both struggled lately to combat growing insecurity in their respective countries. Brazil’s President Michel Temer recently declared that the security situation in the country constituted a “national emergency,” while Mexico recorded its most homicidal year in recent history in 2017.
InSight Crime Analysis
The recent comments from top officials regarding current security strategies in Brazil and Mexico suggest that authorities recognize shortcomings in their efforts to combat organized crime and violence. But it's unclear if this acknowledgement will lead to a different approach or if they will revert to the norm of hard-line security policies.
Brazil’s security strategy has often emphasized the utilization of heavily armed troops to enforce public order, resulting in complaints of human rights violations and sometimes even exacerbating criminality. The federal government often deploys the armed forces in support of local police efforts, but results show that it does little to fight criminality or sustain long-term security improvements.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy
In Mexico, officials have relied on militarization for more than a decade to no avail. More recently, however, civil society organizations and opposition lawmakers have pushed back against increased militarization, specifically regarding the Internal Security Law approved in December 2017, which effectively codified the armed forces’ role in intervening in domestic security issues. There have also been proposals to grant Mexico’s drug cartel leaders an amnesty as an alternative approach to improving security.
However, Mexican officials began 2018 with the deployment of even more troops to various criminal hotspots throughout the country, suggesting that a heavy-handed strategy to fighting crime is likely to continue despite calls for more holistic measures.