Poor results ten years into war against organized crime; Army will remain on the streets, EPN
Protest in Mexico City ten years after the start of the war on organized crime(@La Jornada)
This December 11 marked a decade of the beginning of the war against crime launched by former President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa (2006-2012). Ten years later, the toll of violence is alarming: 186,000 dead, more than 28,000 missing, tens of thousands of people displaced according to official figures, a balance comparable to that of Central American armed conflicts in the 1980s. Over the term, according to the media, over one trillion pesos has been spent without reducing insecurity and harassment of civilians with a significant increase in human rights violations. In addition, domestic drug use has increased and, although some capos have been arrested, nine organized crime cartels and 37 criminal cells continue to operate.
Civil organizations have ruled that, “the tightening of security measures has not nor will reduce violence in the country. Today we live in a much more insecure country, with weaker institutions and a criminal justice system that does not work properly.” One of the most contested players in the anti-crime strategy has been the Army, which, outside its constitutional mandate, has been deployed to carry out security tasks. From December 1, 2006 to the end of last October, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a total of 158 recommendations to the armed forces, of which 121 were addressed to the Secretariat of National Defence (Sedena) and the remaining 37 to the Secretariat of the Navy. Most of these recommendations were issued for violations, such as searches and arbitrary detentions; excessive, disproportionate and arbitrary use of force; injuries, and also for deprivation of life or arbitrary executions; forced disappearances, torture and cruel and inhuman treatment, as well as unduly imputing events to detainees.
In a press conference, Secretary of National Defence, Major General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, was direct: “The military do not study to chase criminals.” And in the absence of a legal framework “our soldiers are already thinking if it’s worth it for them to continue to confront these (criminal) groups, with the risk of being prosecuted for a crime related to human rights or maybe itis better for them if we prosecute them for disobedience, which is cheaper for them.” He said: “We are asking for regularization of the actions of the Armed Forces,” (that it should be defined) “what Mexicans want the Armed Forces to do. If they want us to be in the barracks, go ahead. I would be the first to raise not one, but the two hands so that we go to do our constitutional tasks … (…) We do not ask to be here … we do not feel at ease, those of us here with you do not study to chase criminals … We are performing functions that do not correspond to us, all because there is no one who should perform them or they are not trained.” He also said: “there is a lack commitment of the part of many sectors for this to work. It is not an issue that is going to be resolved by bullets, it requires other components that have not had the necessary major efforts and budgets to address these situations.”
In this context, the business leadership demanded that the Mexican Army not return to the barracks until state governments have the capacity to deal with organized crime, for which it urged the legislature to pass laws that give greater legal certainty to the armed forces.
At the end of the National Encounter for Procurement and Delivery of Justice 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto acknowledged that the goal had not been achieved and stated that soldiers will continue in the streets “until we achieve the aim of this subject still pending, not only now, but for several decades, to have a country in conditions of greater peace and tranquillity.”
Mario Patron, director of the Agustin Pro HR Centre, has questioned that “instead of taking seriously the design of a program for the gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces from the security tasks – as proposed by international mechanisms in this area – it revives the idea of creating an ad hoc legal framework for the Army and Navy, normalizing the state of emergency under the concept of internal security.” For the same reason, dozens of civil organizations, academics and researchers asked the Chamber of Deputies – who were debating this issue these days – “not to hastily approve” military permanence in public security tasks and the suspension of guarantees for the population.
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