Notre Dame professor lectures on large-scale criminal violence in Mexico

Kahlil Said

The Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies Speaker Series presented a talk on the outbreak and escalation of large-scale criminal violence in Mexico that has occurred during the country’s transition from authoritarian rule to a democracy.

Guest speaker Guillermo Trejo, associate professor at Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute, spoke about the spread of the electoral competition and how it has affected the evolution of criminal violence.

Trejo said one problem with the criminal violence in Mexico is caused by the lack of state capacity to deal with the criminals.

“The capacity to control or prosecute these criminals is there or at least should be there,” Trejo said. “The problem is there are other motivations that restrain this capacity.”

Trejo said the sources for the evolution of criminal violence in Mexico make it hard to combat.

“Social, political and economic issues are all contributory factors to the evolution of criminal violence,” Trejo said. “Each of these different issues needs to be addressed.”

Undeclared sophomore Andres Garza said it seemed interesting that Trejo was able to point out when the most violence occurs.

“Trejo said that violence was always at its worst when political parties would turn over,” Garza said. “It’s a bit odd to see violence explode when new politicians and parties got in office.”

Garza said Trejo’s analysis of the growing issue of criminal violence in Mexico gave new perspectives.

“The talk shed light onto different social and political factors and issues related to the problem with violence in Mexico,” Garza said.

Garza said he felt Trejo had a semi-pessimistic overview on the issue and what is to come in the future.

“Trejo didn’t seem to have any real hope or belief that this criminal violence would come to an end anytime soon,” Garza said.

Plan II junior Adriana Ortiz said Trejo made a very good point about Mexico’s judicial system and legislature.

“As long as Mexico has a weak judicial system and legislature, the country will continue to be a victim of organized crime,” Ortiz said.

According to Ortiz, as a Mexican-American student, these talks are helpful in understanding the issue more deeply than what the media reports.

“Students that attend these talks will be more aware of the important factors and research needed to implement a reform in Mexico,” Ortiz said.