Back from the Brink: Saving Ciudad Juárez

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Crisis Group

Children from the Insurgentes de la Paz (Peace Insurgents) school are seen through a broken window as they play with their teacher. REUTERS/Jorge Luis Plata


Back from the Brink: Saving Ciudad Juárez

Mexico City/Bogotá/Brussels: Just four years ago, Ciudad Juárez was under siege from criminal gang members and being sabotaged by crooked cops. Killings and kidnappings spiralled out of control despite the deployment of thousands of soldiers and federal police. Today Juárez is on the path to recovery: public investments in social programs and institutional reform plus a unique model of citizen engagement have helped bring what was once dubbed the world’s “murder capital” back from the brink. Daunting problems persist. Juárez remains an unruly frontier city of great inequalities, where traffickers and other criminals can too easily find recruits among a largely young population, many of whom still lack good jobs or education. To sustain progress, citizens and local policymakers need to assess achievements and obstacles, relaunching their partnership and upgrading efforts to strengthen local institutions and address social inequities.

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Mexico should expand the public-private efforts that helped bring Ciudad Juárez back from the brink and reach out more to marginalised communities to help combat and prevent violent crime. Opaque, top-down solutions that fail to address local concerns cannot neutralise the explosive mix of organised crime and corruption.
Mary Speck, Project Director, Mexico & Central America @MarySpeck

Mary Speck Listen to Mary Speck describe how the citizens of Juárez found a new way to combat organised crime.

Mary Speck
Javier Ciurlizza

Juárez is no longer the world’s murder capital, thanks in part to initiatives promoting citizen participation and addressing underlying socio-economic problems. The government must now evaluate and benchmark progress, opening its efforts to public scrutiny, so that lessons learned in Juárez can be applied elsewhere.
Javier Ciurlizza, Program Director, Latin America, @JavierCiurlizza

Jean-Marie Guéhenno

Ciudad Juárez has progressed but still struggles with murder rates twice those of ten years ago. This cannot be Mexico’s new normal. To overcome a crisis of confidence at all levels, the government urgently needs to refine Juárez’s public-private partnerships and expand them across the country.
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO, @JGuehenno









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The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental  organisation covering over 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

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