Mexico news weekly, Dec.20
Subject: Mexico News WEEKLY December 20, 2012 |
Mexico & Nafta
MEXICO: Peña Nieto’s six steps to better security
President Enrique Peña Nieto could only wait so long before delivering a set-piece speech on security. He deliberately put education reform at the top of his agenda upon taking office on 1 December, but domestic and foreign observers alike were waiting to see his administration’s strategy for combating insecurity and violent crime in Mexico, which spiralled upwards during the sexenio of his predecessor Felipe Calderόn (2006-2012). During a meeting of the national public security council (CNSP) this week he presented his plan.
Peña Nieto promised to embark on a new course from that chartered by Calderón. There are some changes but much of the course has a familiar look to it. Peña Nieto delineated a six-pronged security strategy based on specific goals and objectives to address the three crimes that most affect people: murder, kidnapping and extortion. The six pillars upon which this strategy is based are planning; crime prevention; protection and respect of human rights; coordination; transformation of police institutions and law enforcement bodies; and evaluation and feedback.
The first and last of these pillars, in particular, sound a bit woolly to say the least, but Peña Nieto sought to clarify what they would mean in practice. He said better planning was essential to stamp out “improvisation”. He said there would be set dates for federal government institutions and state and local governments to meet specific commitments. Progress on all aspects of security would be evaluated with clear indicators provided for the public, he said, which would to provide the feedback to make the necessary adjustments.
Peña Nieto offered more details on crime prevention which marks, in the eyes of his administration, the biggest difference from the status quo ante. Rather than being reactionary, the accusation levelled at Calderόn, and dealing with just the consequences of crime, his government would address the causes of crime. He announced a budget of M$115bn (US$9.02bn) in 2013 for crime prevention (a figure which tallies closely with the estimated cost of insecurity for the business sector this year [see overleaf]), and a fund with a further M$2.5bn (US$192m) to improve urban centres and social enterprises. In terms of the protection and respect of human rights, Peña Nieto promised the creation of a national human rights programme, new protocols for security forces to follow, and the restructuring of the national migration institute (INM).
By “coordination”, the fourth pillar, Peña Nieto explained that the federal government, states, Distrito Federal, municipalities, and judicial and legislative branches of government would work together to forge “a true State policy” rather than compete among each other. The big proposal here was to divide the national territory into five ‘operative regions’ with the aim of addressing specific problems in each region, the composition of which will be agreed with state governments. The proposal received the unanimous support of the state governors present at the meeting, as did the creation of a commission to present a consensual proposal for putting state and municipal police forces under single chains of command beneath the powerful interior ministry (Segob), presided over by Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong.
Osorio Chong elaborated on the idea of strengthening cooperation. “Success and failure are the responsibility of everyone,” he said, while criticising poor coordination under the Calderón administration: “financial resources dedicated to security have more than doubled but unfortunately crime has increased”. He was fiercely critical of the ‘decapitation strategy’ championed by Calderón, who hailed the capture of 25 of the 37 principal kingpins during his tenure. Osorio Chong implied that organised crime was a many-headed hydra as second-tier figures, often much more violent, had simply taken over Drug Trafficking Organisations (DTOs) or created new ones: he said the number of DTOs had proliferated to between 60 and 80 now. “We have moved from a scheme of vertical leadership to a horizontal one that has made them [DTOs] more violent and much more dangerous,” he said.
The main part of the fifth pillar of the new strategy – institutional transformation – involves centralising decision-making by concentrating power in the hands of the Segob, which is now a genuine super ministry. The public security ministry has been renamed the undersecretary of planning and institutional protection, run by Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, now under the Segob. Also under the wings of Osorio Chong will be the new national gendarmerie. Peña Nieto said a bill would be sent to congress in the first half of next year to create the force which will start with 10,000 officers and gradually increase to 40,000, the figure he mentioned during his campaign, by 2015. The federal police (PF), which has been embroiled in recent scandals, will also now come under Osorio Chong’s purview.
The obvious shortcoming in the six-prong strategy is that it does not directly deal with the short-term security issue. If the number of violent murders associated with DTOs stays constant, or worse still increases, then Peña Nieto will come under pressure to act now. There is no timeframe for the launch of the new gendarmerie, although it could be the best part of three years before it is fully up and running. In the meantime, the military will remain on the streets and Peña Nieto’s security policy will look like a continuation of Calderόn’s rather than a change.
Some attempt was made to spell out the roles of the gendarmerie and the PF: the former will be responsible for security patrols in “municipalities with the greatest institutional weaknesses, as well as strategic installations such as ports, airports and borders”; the latter, will focus on investigations and 15 new units of the PF will be created to combat kidnapping and extortion (see sidebar). In spite of this, there is a risk of overlapping responsibilities and of complicating coordinated action - precisely what the new administration is trying to avoid.
Cost of insecurity
Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong claimed that under the last government of President Felipe Calderόn kidnapping had increased by 83%, violent robberies by 65% and extortion by 40%. The new attorney general (PGR), Jesús Murillo Karam, spoke out in favour of centralising decision-making under Osorio Chong. He argued that it was essential to improve intelligence gathering to combat organised crime and to improve the justice system to ensure that when criminals are arrested, impunity does not prevail.
Mexico & Nafta
MEXICO | Cost of insecurity. Mexico’s national statistics institute (Inegi) this week released its first-ever national business victimisation survey (ENVE 2012), which measures the prevalence and incidence of crime affecting businesses. The survey, which polled 27,700 private firms between May and July this year, found that insecurity had cost M$115.2bn (US$9.04bn) to businesses operating in Mexico in 2011, equivalent to 0.75% of the country’s GDP. Inegi calculated that last year 4.3m crimes, each one resulting in an average loss of US$4,500, were committed against some 1.39m firms, or roughly 37.4% of all firms in the country. The results of the survey were presented by Inegi’s public security & justice statistics director, Adrián Franco, who pointed out that the most frequent of these crimes are corruption (24.7%), muggings (22.6%) and extortion (14.5%), with criminals carrying weapons in 46% of cases.
According to Franco retailers and large firms are primarily affected by the violence. Franco said that on average 76% of businesses have a perception of general insecurity in the states in which they operate; and in some instances the perception of insecurity is as high as 90%. Unsurprisingly, 59.3% of all firms operating in Mexico consider criminality and insecurity as the main problem they face in the country, followed by the low purchasing power of the population. Franco also pointed out that as worrying as the crime figures are, they might be even higher as the report found that one in six of the firms polled failed to report the crimes against them to the authorities.
Inegi’s report concluded that “crime affecting the private sector is a phenomenon of which there is little or no information at the national or international level and that the ENVE is a way of addressing this”. ENVE 2012 was designed by Inegi with the assistance of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is the first survey of its kind to be conducted in Latin America.
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