jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2012

Mexico's president-elect pledges two reforms

Enrique Peña Nieto, set to become Mexico's president on 1 December, announced on 14 November two moves cited as among the "fundamental reforms" of the state pledged in the 2012 general elections; he said he would boost the interior ministry's powers and reduce ministries from 18 to 16, Agence France-Presse reported. He told legislators from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), his party, in Mexico City that increasing the ministry's powers would give it "greater automony and capacity" to fight corruption inside the state and crime. The interior ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación) would be tasked with fighting crime, take charge of security policies and run the Federal Police, a corps formed in 2009 and currenty fighting drug cartels alongside the armed forces. Peña Nieto had earlier suggested creating a national gendarmerie, envisaged as gradually taking over the fight against drug cartels from the armed forces and Federal Police. The Federals were formed in response to the inefficacy and corruption of local and state police forces, though AFP observed they have not been immune to infiltration by cartels. On 14 November, one of Mexico's prominent crime and rights protection associations El Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal urged Peña Nieto in a statement to act as promised and cut crime "by at least" half in his six-year presidency. It stated the president should not "tolerate non-implementation or simulation" from officials, but "kill" impunity and end the state's alleged tolerance of killings between criminals and the rise of private militias against crime. The Council, which has monitored crime rates in Mexico, expressed hope the next government would end the army's role in fighting cartels and purge police forces of corrupted elements by the end of 2013. Its proposals were signed by academics and members of civic groups.

Mexican president blames crime for thousands of deaths

Mexico's outgoing president, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, defended his six-year administration's war on drug cartels and said it was "irresponsible" to blame the state or himself for the thousands of violent deaths reported since 2006. He was responding in an interview with the daily Milenio published online on 15 November, to critics who have blamed some 50-60,000 deaths on his decision to fight crime using federal police and the armed forces. One of these was his predecessor Vicente Fox Quesada, who said on 14 November that this had been "a lost war." Calderón told Milenio the dead were to do with "criminals who are killing people, some innocent others probably linked to rival cartels." Violence in Mexico he said "is not a consequence of the Federal Government's actions" but "of violence which we have seen rising in many states," because he said cartels were no longer just sending drugs outwards but seeking to control Mexican territory. This was "a change in the dimension of criminality that was never understood," he said. Mexico he said now had "powerful" armed and police forces, and he praised the intelligence services that had helped catch 25 of Mexico's 37 most wanted criminals, during his term. He said he found Mexican intelligence "totally devastated" when he succeeded Fox, as it had been dismantled. This had been done for the perception that it had been used before 2000 as a "political instrument" to "spy on opponents", and there "was something in that" Calderón admitted. Mexico was governed from 1929 to 2000 by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a centrist party that became increasingly authoritarian and is set to recover the presidency on 1 December. The conservative National Action Party (PAN) to which Fox and Calderón belong, won elections in 2000 and Fox became president. But aside his later criticisms of Calderón, he angered the PAN by backing the PRI candidate in the 2012 general elections. Calderón told Milenio he had not spoken to Fox for some time. Fox in turn told the broadcaster Univisión on 14 November that he had "time and again" advised Calderón not to use the army to fight cartels, but "he did exactly the opposite and we are seeing the consequences today." The only way to win against drugs he said "is by being with our children, educating and informing them and taking responsibility for our children's behaviour." He said the state could not be expected to protect "our children and prevent them from accessing drugs." He also chided the United States for allegedly doing little to curb the habits of its "60 million" drug users. "We are doing all the work for them," he said.

At least 20 killed in Mexico mid-week

"At least" 20 were reported killed or found dead around Mexico on 12-14 November, presumed victims of criminal violence and most likely of organized crime. These included: a bus driver shot before a bus-full of passengers in Acapulco on the western coast, four gunned down outside a brewery in Ciudad Valles near the eastern port of Tampico, five bodies found at the back of an estate car in Ecatepec outside Mexico City and two including a journalist shot dead in Tehuacán, in the eastern state of Puebla, Proceso reported on 13 and 14 November. The journalist was shot while driving from an assignment; the other victim was a former policewoman, CNN reported. In the north-eastern state of Nuevo León, police arrested on 10 November, 22 suspects identified as members of the Gulf Cartel and working in a team led by a 19-year-old, Proceso reported on 14 November. The "cell," including three members aged 15-17, was thought involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and murders in the district of China where the suspects were arrested, Nuevo León's security spokesman Jorge Domene Zambrano said. Authorities revealed on 13 November the arrests of three other presumed members of cartels, Proceso reported. These were identified as Mario Arturo Zurita, head of The Zetas in the northern district of Saltillo arrested on 12 November, and two members of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, detained on 9 November in the eastern port of Veracruz. Separately the mayor of El Bosque in the southern state of Chiapas and two municipal offficials were shot and injured in an ambush, while driving to nearby Simojovel on 13 November, Proceso reported.