Saturday, May 8, 2010

Don't sniff the fumes

The narco war is the paint stripper that has removed the varnish from Mexico, revealing all the foibles and failings that have long laid under the surface, once ignored and forgotten (at the very least, the PRI government for 71 years did nothing except to apply ever-thicker coats of varnish).

But, thanks to President Calderón and his war against drugs, the panoply of problems that utterly permeate Mexican society have now reared its head, providing fodder for the the cartels and an unshakable mantel of which the government, the rich, the powerful and the intelligentsia can no longer shake free. Impunity, corruption, inefficiency, lack of transparency, no accountability, poverty, illiteracy, a broken infrastructure, lack of opportunity for the young, a weak almost non-existent justice system, archaic bureaucracy, and the sense of entitlement of the uncaring entitled. Now that this has been exposed to the light, the task before all of us in Mexico is to proceed to repair it, regardless of the time required or of the expense.

Back to business-The governor of Durango finally put 35 police officers under investigation for corruption, crime and collusion with the cartels. Hernández Deras ordered the 35 officers, including cadets, state police, the director of the Public Security Institute, Miguel Preza and the director of the Confidence Control Center (which conducts tests of police officers to detect corruption and malfeasance), José Luis Carrillo Rodríguez after investigations turned up all these bad apples.

And, not that it is too much of a shock (although it is certainly disappointing), Gustavo de la Rosa of the State Human Rights Commission of Chihuahua has revealed that during the month since the Federal Police have taken over policing duties from the army, extortion, robberies and abuse of authority complaints have risen against the police as compared to the military when they were stationed in Juaréz.

De la Rosa has stated that 18 police officers are already under arrest and are being investigated by his office. My observation of this, though, is that many community members must be hesitant to make reports against the military given the fact that the military investigate all matters themselves and are not required to release any results. In one sense, given this opacity, we just do not know what the true situation is (which is not unusual for Mexico).

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