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

El Salvador’s Bukele: From ‘World’s Coolest Dictator’ to ‘Philosopher King’

El Salvador’s Bukele: From ‘World’s Coolest Dictator’ to ‘Philosopher King’

Thursday, February 8, 2024

By: Mark Feierstein;  Keith Mines;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.;  Ricardo Zúniga

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, celebrated a landslide electoral victory on Feb. 4, far outstripping his nearest competitor. “The opposition was pulverized,” Bukele told jubilant crowds outside the National Palace on election night. In reply to critics who warn that El Salvador is moving toward authoritarianism, he proclaimed, “we are not substituting democracy because El Salvador has never had democracy.” The leader who once called himself the “world’s coolest dictator” now boasts of being his country’s “philosopher king.”

Type: Analysis

Global Elections & ConflictGlobal Policy

De Constructor de Paz a Presidente: los Desafíos que enfrenta Arévalo en Guatemala

De Constructor de Paz a Presidente: los Desafíos que enfrenta Arévalo en Guatemala

Thursday, January 18, 2024

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

El nuevo presidente de Guatemala, Bernardo Arévalo, ha desafiado repetidamente las expectativas: primero, al terminar inesperadamente en segundo lugar en la primera vuelta de las elecciones presidenciales el pasado junio; luego, al ganar la segunda vuelta por un amplio margen en agosto, y finalmente, al sobrevivir a una avalancha de retos legales antes de su toma de posesión el 14 de enero.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & Governance

From Peace Builder to President: The Challenges Facing Guatemala’s Arévalo

From Peace Builder to President: The Challenges Facing Guatemala’s Arévalo

Thursday, January 18, 2024

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Guatemala’s new president, Bernardo Arévalo, has repeatedly defied the odds: first by unexpectedly surging to second place in his country’s first-round presidential elections last June; next by winning the final round by a landslide in August, and then by surviving an onslaught of legal challenges in the run-up to his January 14th inauguration.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & Governance

Un avance sobre las elecciones de 2024 en América Latina

Un avance sobre las elecciones de 2024 en América Latina

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

By: Lucila Del Aguila Llausas;  Nicolás Devia-Valbuena;  Mark Feierstein;  Keith Mines;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

En los últimos años, el sentimiento anti-oficialista se ha apoderado de la mayoría de América Latina, moviendo el péndulo electoral hacia la izquierda en México, Colombia, Honduras y Brasil, trastocando las coaliciones corruptas que durante mucho tiempo han gobernado en Guatemala y entregando la presidencia de Argentina a un autoproclamado "anarcocapitalista". Sin embargo, el 2024 podría resultar ser un buen año para los candidatos del oficialismo. En los cinco países con elecciones este año —El Salvador, Panamá, República Dominicana, Uruguay y México—, los aspirantes de los partidos gobernantes, al menos hasta ahora, encabezan las encuestas.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Elections & Conflict

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