Monday, January 20, 2014
Crime and Insecurity may be the Achilles Heel of Mexican Reforms
The security crisis in the Mexican state
of Michoacan is smacking the economy, bringing about higher costs, leaving businesses shuttered, encouraging capital flight,
and causing employment reductions, according to different reports.
For instance, the Mexican Social Security Institute reported that the violence-ridden state, where crime syndicates,
self-defense groups and government security forces are in a stand-off, lost 5,921 jobs in the formal economy from November
2012 to November 2013. The employment downturn was considered the largest of its kind since 1998.
Pedro Ivan Plancarte Molina, president of the Uruapan Chamber
of Commerce in Michoacan, said violent episodes like the armed confrontations and highway blockades of recent days typically
result in 30 to 50 percent losses to businesses, which shut down temporarily and then take days to recover. Maria Piedad Ramos,
director of Michoacan's La Piedad Chamber of Commerce, said widespread truck and product robberies are having significant
repercussions on the local economy.
"Everyone winds up paying protection fees," she added. "Here, they told me it would cost the
Chamber 10,000 pesos (about $800), and that they were going to come and we had to give it to them."
While the militarization of Michoacan is grabbing the bulk
of national media attention, the economic fall-out from insecurity is far from confined to the Pacific coastal state, another
Mexican business leader said last week.
Juan Pablo Castañon, president of the Employers' Confederation of the Mexican Republic (Coparmex),
estimated the direct cost of crime to the formal business sector at more than $6 billion annually, due to kidnappings, extortion
an important amount that leaves the formal economy and affects the creation of jobs, reinvestment and the desire for development,"
Castañon said. According to Coparmex's president, the payment of protection fees alone impacts as many as 260,000
businesses nationally, or about 37 percent of the formal economic entities of the country.
From a business standpoint, the Mexican government's
recent reforms will come up short if the security situation is not improved, Castañon added.
"Security is the principal issue for 2014, because
of reforms that will give a platform for development," he contended. "But prosperity without peace will be weak."
words echo comments made by other organizations representing the business class, including the Business Coordinating Council
has been achieved in terms of opening up the great process for Mexico's potential could be impacted by the effects of
public insecurity, as well as shortcomings or gaps in governance and corruption," the CCE said.
Sources: Agencia Reforma, January 15 and 16, 2014. Articles by Adriana Leyva and editorial staff. Proceso/Apro,
January 14 and 15, 2014. Articles by Juan Carlos Cruz Vargas.
Reprinted with authorization from Frontera NorteSur, a free, on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news source; translation FNS.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
Las Cruces, New Mexico