Thursday, November 10, 2011

Government of Mexico: Crime Fighters or Crime Creators?

What happens when people who are responsibe for protecting a nation's people become the persecutors?

Shortly after taking office in December 2006, President Calderon declared a 'war on drugs'. He utilized over 50,000 soldiers, thousands of members of the military, the federal police, and local police forces to help crack down on organized crime.

However, the very people who were in charge of cracking down on crime, actually created more of it. In trying to oust leaders of organized crime, the soldiers and other forces committed serious human rights abuses, including among other things, torturing innocent civilians in hope that they had information to find leaders of drug cartels.

Despite these terrible human rights abuses by Government forces, no soldiers or other law enforcing officials have been prosecuted. Jose Vivanko, Americas director at Human Rights Watch explained, These abuses are almost never adequately investigated, yet government officials routinely dismiss the victims as criminals and discount their allegations as false”. This is because the Mexican court system is set up in a way to allow the military to have trials for their own members. Unfortunately, this allows government officials to get away with, literally, murder.

This is a very difficult situation with no clear answer. So many aspects of the Mexican Government must be changed to restore order. For one, it is clear that the Mexican Government must re-think its approach to fighting crime - it cannot go around interrogating, torturing, and killing innocent civilians! It must also revamp its court system; the military is not capable of justly putting on trial and convicting its own members. Perhaps most importantly, though, the Government has to feel an increased responsibility to its citizens.

What do you think the first steps are?

1 comment:

Anne said...

There is a similar situation going on in Colombia right now. The government is full of corruption and officials participate in a number of cruel and illegal activities- and if they don't actively participate, they turn a blind eye to what they see. A few years ago, the Colombian government issued the Justice and Peace Act, reducing sentences for right-wing paramilitaries who confess to the atrocities they have committed. Accordingly, the paramilitaries are not punished for drug trafficking and theft of land. Although these paramilitary groups are considered terrorists, it is estimated that they control anywhere from 30%-75% of the Colombian Congress. With such a strong presence in government, how can things change?

The US has tried to step in to help Colombia with drug trafficking via Plan Colombia- but unfortunately, a fair deal of the aid and training is going to those who have supported or tolerated paramilitary activity. It's very difficult to say what the next steps should be- corruption seems to perpetuate itself and outside assistance may only exacerbate the problem if it is hastily implemented.