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Column 052812 Brewer

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mexican Voters Must Speak Frankly to Recapture Their Country

By Jerry Brewer

The Mexican people have a monumental electoral task ahead of them on July 1, one that will quite possibly reverse history.  This or carve in stone a homeland that will ignore victims and future victims of lawlessness, while setting an even harsher tone of noninterventionism for generations to come.

The nation as a whole has suffered barbaric atrocities that have been inflicted upon far too many people. And much of this savagery has had a direct impact on Mexico's tourism industry, and those entities, foreign and domestic, that do business in the country.

A world has looked upon Mexico with concern and pity, but most have done nothing to take an active part in Mexico's solutions.  With this came feelings of despair, hopelessness and, for many, an attitude of defeat.

The Mexican presidential candidates differ significantly in their visions of security for Mexico's future as the countdown for electing a new leader, to replace President Felipe Calderon, winds down.  As one scrutinizes their statements and political platforms, the vague references to direction and strategies for the war on crime speaks volumes of nothing in low tones.

President Calderon took office on December 1, 2006 and became the first president in Mexico's history to actively and effectively engage drug trafficking organizations head-on. They fought back, with equal force, like a formidable foreign enemy -- criminal organizations that permeated too many parts of Mexico where they became deeply entrenched and operated with violent impunity. They were effectively controlling municipalities and amassing billions of dollars in illicit profits.

Today, in Mexico alone, the Zetas are known to exist and operate in at least 17 states, on a par with the Sinaloa Cartel that has footholds in about the same number of Mexico's 31 states and the Federal District. This culture of corruption and armed-fist control has resulted in the execution of multitudes of "journalists, 83 chiefs of police, and 32 mayors." The battle itself has claimed over 50,000 lives.

Previous Mexican administrations virtually or purposely ignored their weak and corrupt law enforcement roles. A blind eye to murder with impunity and lawlessness that not only allowed felons to operate above the law, but also to eventually and blindly welcome an influx of transnational organized crime gangsters, who along with their Mexican cohorts also laid claim to stakes on the border -- said euphemistically to be paved with gold.

Mexico's presidential candidates must not walk softly and silently in their campaign efforts to woo this year's most important vote, by citizens who will most certainly affect Mexico's history and status in this hemisphere.  And voters must make this election stand for principles that must not be compromised. This is their opportunity to serve as a true voice, with votes that come from the hearts and savvy minds of those who demand a reduction of fear and a better quality of life that is far more advanced and deserved.

Amid Mexico's frustrations and apathy, voters cannot ignore nor forget major gains against some six drug trafficking cartels competing against each other and fighting for drug distribution routes.  As well, the splintering and fragmenting of many of these former cohesive groups, due to the arrests of many in the cartels' hierarchy, has shifted a number of smaller groups to concentrate on local criminal acts that include robbery, kidnapping, extortion and other crimes of opportunity.

The violent push and expansion into Guatemala and Honduras in the northern cone of Central America by the well-armed Zetas brought instant chaos to those nations as their homicide rates soared and local officials were taken hostage or killed. Their police forces were also no match for the Zeta's power and military-like strategies.  

Those nations, as well as El Salvador, began to see what took Mexico significant time to understand -- that the violence and murder with impunity were not all about cartel versus cartel and rival wars for drug routes, but too out and out acts of terror to instill fear and establish control over the citizenry. As did Mexico, they witnessed violent, barbaric, and sadistic rituals of torture and murder by now transnational organized criminals that traffic in drugs and humans, murder migrants, control land, bribe or murder officials, and destroy any form of the rule of law as they terrorize nations. As well, the military became their only tool with which to fight back.

Mexico's upcoming elections may help to influence the northern cone nations to take proactive actions against the insurgents through similar policing models to what President Calderon has established.

Recently members of the Central American Security Commission met in Honduras "to sign a joint statement announcing the implementation of a security strategy."  The plan includes the professionalizing of police and the upgrading of efforts of prosecution, as well as improving prison management. Too, South American nations have proposed the creation of a new regional body to fight transnational crime.

The lessons of Mexico since 2006, and a gradual process of effective response, have left those who must elect a new leader with a profound decision.  The Mexican people must choose to step forward -- or sit back and wait for a new direction that may not be set.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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