Regional Expert Paper Series

Regional Expert Paper Series

The Regional Expert Series is an initiative to CeMeCA that seeks to make timely academic research within and about Central America and Mexico accessible to broad, interdisciplinary, and multilingual publics.

  • For Researchers: We publish short empirical papers, reports or briefs that explain contemporary conditions in the region. The series is committed to rigorous peer-review while facilitating timely dissemination of pressing social, political and institutional issues in Mexico and Central America. All publications are published open-access and in English and Spanish.
  • For Central American and Mexican Research Centers: This initiative aims to translate select reports, papers, and data from research centers in Central America and Mexico that would otherwise not be available to an English language audience. Researchers and research centers retain copyrights.
  • For the Public: The initiative aims to produce high quality, accessible data from the region that is useful to academics, journalists, policy makers, attorneys, students and others with an interest in understanding the nuanced conditions in Central America and Mexico.

The Expert Series is curated by anthropologists Amelia Frank-Vitale (Princeton) and Lauren Heidbrink (CSU-Long Beach), under the direction of CeMeCA director Nara Milanich. To contribute, please see our CFP and email: Amelia Frank-Vitale at [email protected] and Lauren Heidbrink at [email protected].

For more information about the series, please see this Call for Papers.

1. Conditions of Children and Youth in Guatemala

​​Over the last decade, Guatemalan minors have been the largest group of migrant young people entering Mexico and the United States. This report illustrates the complex structural reasons spurring young people’s migration from Guatemala. It examines the underlying conditions of children’s lives in Guatemala, highlighting the relevant laws, policies, and institutional practices that shape the everyday lives of children and youth and lead to their migration. It pays particular attention to Indigenous children and youth, who make up an estimated 70 to 95% of young people (accompanied and unaccompanied) migrating from and deported to Guatemala. Drawing from the authors’ experiences in Guatemala as researchers, attorneys, and practitioners, the report explains how ‘laws on the books’ may conflict with ‘laws in practice,’ identifying where the Guatemalan government is either unwilling or unable to ensure basic protections and rights.

1. Condiciones de niños, niñas y jóvenes en Guatemala

​​Durante la última década, los menores de edad guatemaltecos han sido el grupo más grande de jóvenes migrantes que ingresan a México y Estados Unidos. Este informe ilustra las complejas razones estructurales que impulsan la migración de jóvenes de Guatemala y examina las condiciones subyacentes de la vida de los niños en Guatemala, destacando las leyes, políticas y prácticas institucionales relevantes que dan forma a la vida cotidiana de los niños y jóvenes y conducen a su migración. Este artículo presta especial atención a los niños y jóvenes indígenas, que constituyen aproximadamente del 70 al 95% de los jóvenes (acompañados y no acompañados) que migran y son deportados a Guatemala. Basándose en las experiencias de los autores en Guatemala como investigadores, abogados y profesionales, el informe explica cómo las 'leyes en los libros' pueden entrar en conflicto con las 'leyes en la práctica', identificando dónde el gobierno guatemalteco no quiere o no puede garantizar protecciones y derechos básicos.

2. Political Repression, State-Sponsored Violence, and Risks to Government Opponents in Nicaragua Under the Ortega- Murillo Regime

When Daniel Ortega returned to the presidency in Nicaragua in 2007, winning elections over two decades after he and the revolutionary Sandinista regime left power, many in Nicaragua and abroad were hopeful. However, Ortega gradually dismantled Nicaragua’s fragile democracy, establishing a competitive authoritarian regime in which political competition and freedoms of speech and assembly were restricted to ensure that Ortega and his FSLN party could not lose power—though state violence remained relatively limited. When popular protests erupted in 2018, this changed; the government launched waves of brutal violence against protesters and suspected government opponents. This paper examines the Ortega-Murillo government’s gradual dismantling of Nicaragua’s fragile democracy, the establishment of a competitive authoritarian regime, the recent intensification of political violence, and what this means for Nicaragua, Latin America, and democracy as a whole. 

3. Reforms to Criminal Justice and the Anti-Corruption System in Honduras

The Centro de Estudio para la Democracia (CESPAD), with support from Open Society Foundations (OSF), carried out archival and empirical research from February 2021 to September 2021 focusing on the development of proposals to reform public policies in the area of criminal justice and the design of the national anti-corruption system in Honduras. This research investigates three elements: the main legislative obstacles to legal anti-corruption action; the alternatives or possibilities for the legal and institutional dismantling of those obstacles, through reforms or laws; and proposals for the legal or institutional design of an effective national anti-corruption system, taking the recent report of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Corruption and Human Rights (2019) as a reference.