Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Transborder Institute

On Thursday afternoon, September 29th, we headed over to the University of San Diego to speak with Charles Pope and Octavio Rodriguez from the Transborder Institute.  TBI was founded in 1994 with the mission of promoting border studies and community from the University of San Diego and is part of the School of Peace Studies.

 The Transborder Institute does offer some border studies courses, primarily through the polititcal science department, and they have formerly offered a summer seminar in Tijuana, but they also focus on research and training.  They have four program areas:  Security and the Rule of Law, Sustainable Economic Development, Immigration and Crossborder Collaboration and Understanding.  We spent most our time chatting with Octavio Rodriguez who runs the Secutiry and Rule of Law program, formerly known as Justice in Mexico.

We first learned about the Transborder Institute a couple weeks ago because we heard they were presenting in Juarez on reseach recently performed in Juarez regarding the municipal police force.  Having spent so much time in El Paso/Juarez and having very mixed feelings about all levels of authority that rule Juarez, Eric and I were very intrigued.

Leading up to the reforms of the justice system in Mexico in 2008, there was a lot reseach available about the general public's feelings and ideas about the system, but there was little known about the actors of the criminal justice system itself.  With that premise, this one project of TBI decided to survey police officers, judges, people within the system.  They choose Guadalajara and with the support of partners in Mexico and the institution itself, they were able to conduct over 5,400 interviews, nearly 82% of the individuals involved in the justice system of the area.  After that, they went to Juarez.

They arrived in Juarez with the intent of surveying the municipal police force.  They asked them about corruption, salary, working with the federal police and military, etc.  (My opinions:  corruption is rampant at all levels, I have heard police officers earn as little as $5,000/year which pretty much forces them to accept bribes, and all of Juarez thinks that the municipal police, the military and the federal police are aligned with different cartels and the coordination between the forces is totally lacking).  We didn't talk to Octavio very much about the results, but look forward to a time we can read through them from their report and check out the Justice in Mexico website.  Instead we talked about some of the difficulties of the project and we were pleased to hear that it was well recieved when presented in Juarez this past week.  It sounds like a really ambitious, courageous project!

(This was a short meeting, packed with information and I, once again, hope I have relayed that information accurately.  For more info, please check out their website.  I know I will.)

The Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego

(Also, I apologize for spelling mistakes in this post and others posted today.  I am so happy to have internet access at cafes in Tijuana, but the spell check function only works for Spanish!)

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