Washington DC- The last 12 years, Mexico has been under the leadership of two presidents from Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), and the only other political party that has led Mexico since the Mexican Revolution (in the 1920’s). Since the Mexican revolution, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) governed the Federal Government and their control ended in 2000. PRI controlled Mexican high office for 71 years.
In reflection to where things are after 12 years and what the new President Enrique Peña Nieto has now received as of December 1st, 2012, this article will shine a light on security and what needs to take place in order to reduce the narco-violence in Mexico.
Since president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa took office on December 1, 2006, Mexico has been at war with the drug cartels. Today the count is over 60,000 people dead, which include many military, police, innocent civilians, and levels of insecurity not only due to the drug war against cartels but the war from the Mexican government against all cartels.
Today, people in Mexico live in fear. Because security resource allocation in most large towns has been balanced to handle common crimes and drug related crimes or organized crime, the smaller towns in Mexico have been battled by the drug cartels to the point that the police forces have to quit the job. Towns have been completely without any police to patrol and handle common crimes. Without police forces, there are no investigations, there is nobody making sure law breakers are arrested, people are on their own at the mercy of the federal government and state governments for assistance, which becomes inefficient and unavailable.
The result of these actions have left the towns at the mercy of the federal forces and military, which do not respond to a local chain of command but to the president of Mexico and forces without any training to handle human rights protections and procedures to investigate local crimes.
Peña Nieto is a product of the PRI from his early days. He brings with him a significant amount of influence from the old party prior to the Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon. Should this become a reason to be concerned? Perhaps the best question could be, will Peña Nieto be able to continue the fight Calderon is leaving him or will there be any changes in strategy?
On an exclusive interview with the now former president Felipe Calderon to Televisa that aired on November 30, 2012, Calderon expressed that he felt bad for the all the people who died during his drug war but that he does not feel any responsibility. He stated that he was elected to uphold the law and all he did is to do just that. Calderon stated that the people responsible for the 60,000 people killed during his 6 years are the criminals and that he is not a criminal.
Vicente Fox, who was the first president from PAN to take office after the 71 years of PRI, was a critic of the drug war by Calderon and during the last days of the election he switched support for Peña Nieto. When the interviewer from Televisa asked him if Calderon had any respect for former president Fox, Calderon responded that he did not. Calderon added that Fox had no ideals and had no loyalty. What followed from really surprised many and that is that Calderon stated that he did not make any pacts with organized crime, which implies that Fox may have made pacts with organized crime to keep the peace in Mexico, a widespread rumor.
A fact is that Joaquin Guzman Loera aka Chapo Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel Federation escaped a maximum security prison located in Puente Grande Jalisco, Mexico, the first 60 days of the Fox’s administration. Speculation from around Mexico that Fox had facilitated the escape, even when it was never confirmed or denied by the administration and left it as a rumor.
The new President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) now faces a drug war unlike any other times when PRI was in power. PRI has always been willing to work with the US so on that front, it appears that PRI is willing to assist the United States in the drug war. What is not clear, is how far will the US need Mexico to go. With high levels of corruption in police forces in Mexico including the largest narco-police forces in the world who also work for organized crime, high levels of unemployment, impunity at all levels, a militarization of policing which leads to other problems, Peña Nieto brings hope for Mexicans that things may change for the best for Mexicans.
In July 2012, people in Mexico elected Peña Nieto because the PAN had clearly lost focus on what matters to Mexicans and had lost control of a drug war inside Mexico. A poorly planned drug war that was launched with corrupt police forces, corrupt military forces, corrupt politicians, and criminals who decided to take control of parts of Mexico by using extreme violence.
The first 100 days should give some direction as to policy regarding the drug war.