In recent days, President López Obrador had a controversial meeting with journalist Jorge Ramos , in one of his morning press conferences. The reason was the increase, according to official figures of the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, in the number of homicides in the country. The President said – however – that he had other information. Beyond the little respect for the work of institutions that make up the government of the President himself, this media difference should put on the table the really important for the security of the country, that the fragmentation of criminal organizations is causing the consistent increase in rates of violence in the country.
Since the beginning of the so-called war on drugs, in December 2006, hundreds of leaders of different hierarchies of criminal organizations operating in the country have been “neutralized” (euphemism used by the government). In principle, the idea was that this would result in the formation of small cells that could be managed by the country’s state security agencies; however, few states have managed to modernize their law enforcement and justice agencies, so they lack the capacity to confront, by themselves, the groups that have formed over the years.
The violence we are experiencing today is because these cells are strengthening; That is why we see local criminal groups, eg , the Tláhuac Cartel, which operates mainly in Mexico City. The problem is that federal agencies put aside the fight against cells, which for some reason became independent or emerged as a result of the fragmentation of the large drug cartels. These cells have been regrouping and accumulating power levels at the state or municipal level. Thus, today we have a time bomb, if these cells are not fought, there is a risk that they will consolidate and, therefore, seek to expand their operations at regional or national level; which will inevitably lead to more violence.
Thus, in principle, a federal police force that helps state governments to fight crime, locally, sounds like a good idea. This is the consideration behind the National Guard; However, it is not enough. Repressive strategies, by themselves, will not lower the incidence of crime, but will raise the cost of corruption. What is needed is a comprehensive strategy with three approaches: the economic one (combating money laundering), the preventive one (raising the probability that each crime committed will be punished) and the repressive one.
It will be complicated, however, to generate a comprehensive strategy if we do not start from the full recognition of the figures of violence in the country. Security should not be a political issue, but a matter of hard data. The president’s contempt for the figures emanating from his own administration will only hinder the development of actions capable of attacking the causes of violence.
Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.
Column originally published at https://laopinion.de/2019/04/16/buen-diagnostico-mala-estrategia/