Saturday, March 12, 2011

Presumed Guilty

After watching the Mexican blockbuster “Presunto Culpable” ( the other night in Mexico City, it struck me (once again) the mendacious nature of the Calderón administration’s claim that, of the 36,982  people who have been killed since December 2006 (as a result of his war on the narcos),  90% of people the killed are involved in organized crime. The hard-hitting exposure of the corruption, inefficiency, ineptitude and archaic nature of the Mexican justice system revealed by this film is shocking when one considers that the dismal conviction rate of all crimes in Mexico is close to 1.5%. That is, 98.5% of all crimes go unpunished, or, what is more disheartening, is the revelation by this movie that the 1.5% conviction rate clearly includes the innocent.

This being the legal reality of the Mexican justice environment,  a rational person must ask the question “where is the deterrence for a criminal to not pursue his/her illicit livelihood”? And, because this is an “open secret” why is the US continuing to strengthen the security apparatus of Mexico rather than focusing more strongly on accountability, corruption and human rights? Calderón constantly points to statistics that illustrate that the crime and murder rate in Mexico is one of the lowest in Latin America. In light of this, why would Mexicans support a strengthening of the security apparatus (more personnel, more equipment and better training for both the police and the army) without, or at the sacrifice of, their human rights and a truly functional, and just, justice system. The technocrats in Washington who support Calderón should take a quick moment and ponder this as well, for the good of everyone.

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings

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Update: Great post Walter. I've taken the liberty of adding the movie trailer below (in Spanish, but with English subtitles). - Dave


  1. Movie has been highly criticized in Mexico by [serious] local journalists. Certainly, this movie depicts how the inefficient and corrupted in the justice system in Mexico, but the movie is full of assumptions about presumed innocence/guilt of the main character without involving all the elements to elaborate a personal judgement and let the spectator think about the case, so be careful while watching the movie, it can be a misleading radiography of judicial system.

    It's no news that this Mexican "war of drugs" is full of innocents locked up in a attempt to show off successful operations, a perfect example is the assassins of FBI officials when they were transiting in one of the most dangerous zones in the north of the country. Presumed criminals responsible for the killings were found 1 week after the killings, whereas for the rest of the 34K killings, including "colateral damage" (kids, women and pedestrian that happened to be in the incorrect place), there is a ridiculous low number of presumed guilt.

    Human rights have been violated and this "successful" war on drugs is just tearing apart our families, friendships and society, inducing fear among most people in the country.

  2. Thanks Fernando for this comment. There was another comment on the LEAP Facebook page in a similar vein to your own. I haven't seen the movie yet so I am withholding judgement at this point. However, I have forwarded your message on to Walter McKay as he wrote the blog post. Cheers, Dave


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