Monday, June 21, 2010
Mexican President's Discourse on the Lack of Law & Order
President Felipe Calderón
(Transcript of June 16 Speech to the Nation)
Citizens of Mexico:
Today I would like to talk to
you about a problem which I know concerns Mexican families, the lack of law and order.
I am aware of citizens' demands
to put an end to crime throughout the country. Which is why, since the first day of my government, we have forcefully combated
We have done so in the Federal
Government not only because it is our obligation, but because your well-being and the future of our children is at stake.
I would like to explain how the
country arrived at the situation we are now experiencing. For decades, organized crime was almost exclusively concerned with
trafficking drugs to the United States, which was and still is the world’s largest drug consumer.
For criminals, then, it was important
to secure highways and one or two border crossing points. It suited them not to be seen. They kept a low profile. But from
the mid-1990s onwards, they also wanted to sell drugs here, among Mexican children and youth.
That is when the violence began,
because in order to control the local drug market and keep their rivals away from the places they wished to control, criminals
needed to intimidate not only other criminals but also the authorities and society.
They began to fight among themselves,
engaging in turf wars and also tried to scare the government and citizens. Their actions went from being low profile to an
overt challenge against everyone.
And this was exacerbated in 2004,
when the US lifted the ban on the sale of assault weapons. Since then, it has been very easy for criminal groups to purchase
powerful weapons in the US and bring them to Mexico for criminal purposes.
In some places, this situation
exceeded the capacity of security and justice authorities, especially municipal and some state ones, who were not prepared
to deal with a problem of this size and were often subdued by corruption or intimidation.
Once they were established in
a territory, gangs and criminals began to commit other crimes, such as extortion, kidnapping innocent people, and controlling
In the beginning, they only extorted
money from other criminals: those that stole cars, sold adulterated alcohol or stolen gasoline, but later they began to charge
protection money or operating fees from honest citizens.
This is the main and most serious
problem I observed, which is why the Federal Government had to intervene, because criminal organizations were beginning to
get directly involved with people, citizens like you. And we could not allow it nor will we permit it now.
That is what the country was
like at the beginning of my government. It is crucial to act firmly to defend Mexicans’ lives, integrity, assets and
families. It would have been easy to ignore the problem, as some suggest, but it is the duty of every government to protect
citizens, and to respect and enforce the law.
And when the government does
not act, criminals end up subjecting Mexican families to their ambitions and whims.
And I want to be clear. Ours
is not a struggle solely or mainly against drug traffickers. It is a struggle against every expression of organized crime
that affects citizens. It is a struggle against those that took over towns or communities with weapons, attacking those that
That is why it is a fight worth
fighting, and one that must be waged. And this is not nor should be a fight by the president alone but by all Mexicans, particularly
those that have public responsibility in government, at either the federal, state or municipal level, or in other branches
such as the legislative or judicial branches, to act on behalf of people.
And I say that it is a fight
by all Mexicans, because criminals make no distinction and harm all sectors equally. That is why your participation is vital,
because this is everyone's fight, which is why your denunciation or the information you can give us is crucial to making progress
in this respect.
The National Security Strategy
has the following main axes:
First. Joint operations to support
local authorities and citizens.
In these operations, the Armed
Forces and the Federal Police are deployed throughout various zones to reestablish minimal security conditions and deal with
I should point out that this
is a temporary form of support for local authorities, designed to give them the time and opportunity to rebuild their own
security and justice, attorney general's offices and local police, because they are also responsible for security in those
states and municipalities.
Second. The purging and strengthening
of the police and institutions in general, linked to security and justice.
Our aim is not only to combat
crime, but to strengthen our security and justice institutions. That is why, for example, we are professionalizing the police
force and, in particular, we are improving the technical and operating capacities of Federal Police.
We are applying reliability tests
to guarantee the honesty of members of the forces of law and order. We are constructing a scientific, professional Federal
Police force, with honest young men with values, who are better paid and better equipped, and have effective, high-tech information
and intelligence systems.
We hope that the governments
of states and municipalities will do the same so that we will be able to protect your families and you with increasingly effectiveness.
Third. Redesign the legal framework
to reduce impunity.
We are improving our laws to
have more effective instruments against crime. With the reform of the Penal Justice System, we will adopt a more transparent
system, with oral trials, which will be more expeditious, and have simplified trials and above all, a system that protects
Fourth. Prevention and strengthening
of the social fabric.
To this end, we organized the
Safe School Program, for example, used in virtually all the country’s state schools, to prevent there from being weapons,
drugs, violence or gangs in schools. There we need the support of parents, teachers and the community as a whole.
And we are also supporting local
governments in order to recover public spaces, such as parks or sports grounds that have been taken over by criminals, to
give them back to law-abiding citizens.
And we are also making a great
effort to prevent and treat addictions among young people and teenagers
We have a long-term crime-fighting
strategy which is already underway.
During the first stage, we have
weakened organized crime. We have significantly damaged all the cartels across the board. This has created divisions between
This is why, but above all because
of their traditional rivalry and the wars between them, violent executions have taken placed between criminal gangs, as well
as confrontations among themselves, and between criminals and authorities, particularly the federal authority.
I know that Mexicans are concerned
about violent events and the deaths reported on a daily basis, and what hurts and outrages us most is precisely the loss of
That is precisely why we will
spare no effort to stop criminal activity from continuing to affect innocent citizens.
Restoring law and order is no
easy or fast task, but it is worth going on. It is worth it because that is how we will construct a free, safe country. Otherwise,
we would leave society in the hands of our common enemy, which is crime, particularly organized crime.
We cannot and will not let our
guard down in my government.
And as I said from the first
day, this is a struggle that will take time, and cost money and unfortunately human lives, such as those we have unfortunately
lost of those brave police, soldiers and marines who have sacrificed themselves for your well-being and security and that
of all Mexicans.
But I also said and I repeat
that it is a struggle worth waging, because our future is at stake. And it is a fight which together, Mexicans will obviously
In order to build the Mexico
we want, a Mexico where you can walk calmly down the streets and know that your children will be safe, we are going to carry
on and win that fight.
Through history, Mexicans have
overcome many enemies. We will also beat this one.
Today, the country is being tested
again, but we will get over this, because there are many, many more Mexicans that want a free, safe Mexico and one that is
That is why my government is
absolutely determined to continue fighting criminals until we achieve the Mexico we want.
With your support, we will achieve
The fight is worth it.
You and your family are the reason
for this fight.
Press Release: Presidency
of the Republic, June 16, 2010, Mexico, D.F.; translation Presidency of the Republic