Dr. Mary Speck joined USIP after serving as executive director of the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, an independent, bipartisan entity created by Congress to evaluate counternarcotics policies in the Americas and provide practical recommendations on how to both reduce the availability of illicit drugs and minimize the damage associated with drug trafficking. She was a senior associate (non-resident) with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and directed the International Crisis Group’s Mexico and Central America Project, conducting research into organized crime, corruption and security sector reform.

Before joining Crisis Group, she worked as a journalist covering the Andean region as a correspondent for the Miami Herald and reporting freelance from Central and South America. Her commentaries have been published by The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Miami Herald, among others. Dr. Speck holds a doctorate in history from Stanford University and a bachelor’s from Bryn Mawr College.

Her research interests include police and justice sector reform, violence prevention, organized crime and corruption.
 

Publications By Mary

Cerrando el ciclo de violencia de pandillas en El Salvador

Cerrando el ciclo de violencia de pandillas en El Salvador

Thursday, October 13, 2022

By: José Miguel Cruz;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

El Salvador ha sufrido durante mucho tiempo ciclos de violencia extrema vinculados a poderosas pandillas criminales. Las autoridades nacionales han respondido tanto con una represión implacable como con un apaciguamiento secreto. En público, los gobiernos pueden promulgar políticas de “mano dura” que incluyen arrestos masivos de presuntos pandilleros. Pero en secreto, los líderes salvadoreños han negociado con los líderes de las pandillas en prisión, brindándoles beneficios a cambio de ordenar a sus pandilleros que reduzcan el derramamiento de sangre.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Ending El Salvador’s Cycle of Gang Violence

Ending El Salvador’s Cycle of Gang Violence

Thursday, October 13, 2022

By: José Miguel Cruz;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

El Salvador has long suffered from cycles of extreme violence linked to powerful criminal gangs. National authorities have responded with both severe repression and secret appeasement. In public, governments may enact “mano dura” or “iron-fist” policies, which include mass arrests of suspected gang members. But in secret, Salvadoran leaders have negotiated with imprisoned gang leaders, providing them with benefits in return for ordering their members to dial back the bloodshed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

How Climate Change Catalyzes More Migration in Central America

How Climate Change Catalyzes More Migration in Central America

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

By: Sarah Bermeo;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Annual migrant apprehensions at the U.S. southwestern border have surpassed 2 million, breaking previous fiscal year records. The flows (which include large numbers of repeat crossers) have grown increasingly multinational in recent years, including Haitians trying to escape their country’s violence and poverty, along with Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans fleeing a combination of economic misery and political repression. Mexicans seeking better paid work in the United States also continue to cross the border in large numbers, as they have for generations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsEnvironment

¿Seguirán otros líderes centroamericanos el liderazgo autoritario de Nicaragua?

¿Seguirán otros líderes centroamericanos el liderazgo autoritario de Nicaragua?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

By: Arturo Matute;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

El gobierno de Nicaragua ha intensificado su enfrentamiento con una de las instituciones de mayor arraigo e históricamente poderosas del país: la Iglesia Católica. La policía allanó la rectoría episcopal en la ciudad norteña de Matagalpa el 19 de agosto y arrestó a un obispo, cinco sacerdotes y dos seminaristas. En las últimas semanas, el presidente Daniel Ortega cerró siete estaciones de radio católicas, expulsó a misioneras y prohibió las procesiones religiosas en un esfuerzo por silenciar a la disidencia, incluso arriesgando contrariar a la fervientemente católica población del país.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Will Other Central American Leaders Follow Nicaragua’s Authoritarian Lead?

Will Other Central American Leaders Follow Nicaragua’s Authoritarian Lead?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

By: Arturo Matute;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

The Nicaraguan government has intensified its confrontation with one of the country’s most popular and historically powerful institutions: the Catholic Church. Police raided the episcopal rectory in the northern city of Matagalpa on August 19, placing a bishop, five priests and two seminarians under arrest. In recent weeks, President Daniel Ortega has shut down seven Catholic radio stations, expelled missionaries and banned religious processions in an effort to silence dissent — even at the risk of alienating the country’s fervently Catholic population.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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