Sunday, December 22, 2013

México: President Directs Security Officials to Combat Kidnapping as Incidents Spike

According to The Latin American Tribune, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto instructed his top security official to design a comprehensive plan for combating kidnapping, noting a greater incidence of abduction in recent months.

During a review of his security strategy since taking office on Dec. 1, 2012, Peña Nieto acknowledged – without providing specific figures – that there has been “an upward trend” in abduction.

Speaking at a session of the National Public Safety Council, the President lamented the increase in abductions and instructed Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong to come up with a “specific strategy” for reducing the rate of kidnapping.

COMMENT: Interestingly, the Office of the Presidency failed to report on the precise increase in kidnapping cases, including "virtual kidnappings," which are defined as an extortion attempt (often by email or phone) of family members while the apparent victim is safe and sound.

Progress was made, however, in reducing the number of homicides, which “fell by 15% compared the same period of last year,” Peña Nieto noted, adding that armed robbery declined by 5%. Yet, crime statistics in México are historically unreliable, which is why I dispute statistics unless they are linked

The President added that of the 122 criminals declared “important targets” at the start of his administration, “the government has ensured that 71 are no longer a threat” to society, which has had a “significant impact” on organized crime. 

Again, with such small numbers, particularly those that are no longer a threat to society, it would have been more convincing for the 71 to be listed by name, particularly if all are in custody and pose no threat to anyone.

Despite the commendable and dedicated efforts of Peña Nieto's presidency, since taking only taking office since December 2012, in contrast to his predecessor, former President  Felipe Calderón, President Peña Nieto chose NOT to make the eradication of the drug cartels his top priority.

On a more positive tone, since taking office, there has been a 50% reduction in the number of complaints submitted to the National Human Rights Commission, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman, for alleged violations of basic rights.

Surveys of citizens have generally revealed that few Mexicans trust government at any level, which is one reason why few crime victims ever report their victimization to the police.