Mexico’s Struggle for Public Security: Organized Crime and State Responses
George Philip, Susana Berruecos, eds.
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 204 pages.

Mexico’s Struggle for Public Security: Organized Crime and State Responses—a new examination of Mexican organized crime—stands above the many publications already issued on this subject. A product of the London School of Economics’ (LSE) annual Conference on Mexico, this publication is an insightful and multidisciplinary analysis on Mexico’s public security issues, which provokes thoughtful reflection on a complex reality.

The book’s opening chapters focus on understanding the causes behind the increased levels of violence. Contrasting viewpoints pit the current administration’s strategy of countering organized crime through security policy, social policy, and institutional reform, put forth by the current Minister of Government Alejandro Poiré, against a framework that challenges the government’s strategy of capo arrests and cartel fragmentation. The conflicting arguments presented here speak to an unbiased commitment to promoting a thoughtful debate on central questions, namely: What are the implications of today’s security policy efforts for the future, and how do they point a way forward?

A particularly interesting section of the book provides an analysis of reforms undergone by the criminal justice system and by Mexico’s autonomous statistical agency, Instituto Nacional de Estatistica y Geografia (INEGI). These chapters speak to constraints in institutional design and implementation of reforms for the criminal justice system as well as for statistical agencies. Mario Palma, INEGI’s director, points to the lack of an information-gathering culture on key subjects such as government, security, and justice, and how Mexico’s efforts in this area may serve as a lesson for other countries.

Throughout the publication, the importance of promoting continuity in Mexico’s current path of institutional reforms is paramount. Encouraging society’s active involvement in the process of strengthening public institutions is highlighted as the core of improving public security policies.

This engaging publication, edited by LSE scholars Philip and Berruecos, provides a candid all-around perspective of Mexico’s challenges in public security and offers feasible paths to progress that emphasize a shared responsibility in confronting the complex problem of organized crime.