It is often thought that President Felipe Calderón’s strategy to fight organized crime in Mexico was based only on reactive methods, but nothing was further from reality. Only part of the strategy focused on Joint Operations carried out by the Army, the Navy, the Federal Police, and the General Attorney’s Office. So, what was Calderón’s strategy?
We must remember that in 2008 various criminal justice reforms were approved, through which we moved from an inquisitive to an adversarial system. Likewise, the Federal Police Law was approved, through which it was given powers to generate intelligence work, and it was also endowed with a professional career system, different divisions, and it was intended that the states approve in their local Congresses laws to modernize their police forces to make them “mirrors” of the Federal Police.
In addition, Mexico Platform was created as the only criminal information system at the national level. These reforms contemplated the approval of secondary laws such as the National Law on the Execution of Criminal Sentences, which modified how we understand the measures and sentences involving deprivation of liberty. In other words, one of the pillars of Felipe Calderón’s strategy was the modernization of the criminal justice apparatus as a means of increasing the probability that each crime committed would be sanctioned and that it would discourage violence.
In terms of the prevention of violence, we have to remember that there was no regulatory framework in this area, so there were no labeled resources for this purpose either. The only resources to prevent violence were those granted to states and municipalities through subsidies known as FASP and SUBSEMUN. Thus, it was in 2012 that the General Law for the Social Prevention of Violence and Crime was approved, which establishes the bases for the coordination of the three levels of government in this area. With this law, it was possible to obtain specific resources for the prevention of violence. However, it was the responsibility of the Enrique Peña Nieto government to implement this law. Despite not having this regulatory framework, the Calderón government took programs from different agencies and coordinated them to work on violence prevention. This is how -for example- the “Todos Somos Juárez” strategy was generated, achieving good results in reducing violence rates.
Regarding economic strategies, in 2008 the Calderón government formulated the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combat of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, through which the exchange of information between agencies was strengthened. Likewise, it sought to strengthen the legal framework in this matter. This strategy led to the approval of the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations with Resources of Illicit Origin, which institutionalized the intersecretary coordination, but was approved until October 2012, for which reason it was also the responsibility of Peña Nieto to implement it.
When former President Felipe Calderón says that his strategy against organized crime did not depend on a single person, this when asked about the arrest of his Secretary of Public Security, Genaro García Luna, is true. Their strategy was more than just federal forces operations against criminal groups. Their strategy was comprehensive and with a trans-sexennial vision. Due to the political-electoral landscape, people tend not to see the strategy in all its dimensions and subsequent administrations chose to dismantle it. Perhaps if we had continued with this strategy, we would not be seeing the levels of violence that we are experiencing.
-Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.