Damián Zepeda of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party (PAN). Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

The public-security strategy of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is facing a possible review in the Mexican Senate, and the opposition bloc is demanding changes in the fight against organized crime, chief among them strengthening the state police and creating a professional civilian body in charge of public security.

Damián Zepeda, a senator from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), welcomed the debate in the Senate and said that the federal government must accept that the country has been plunged into violence and must change course. He said that the public-security policy of Mexico should be deemed a failure.

Militarization of the country under López Obrador’s watch has not solved mounting violence, and inaction against criminals by the National Guard has added to growing insecurity.

“Contrary to the reform that established the National Guard, the country has been militarized. And the president has decided not to fight organized crime. This has to change,” Zepeda said in an interview with Mexican daily newspaper El Universal on Sunday, July 3.

Zepeda believes that there should be a shift in the country’s security strategy, which must guarantee peace and fight crime, and that this strategy must move toward a national professional civil body in charge of public security to dismantle organized crime.

López Obrador’s allies in the Senate under the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and the Labor Party (PT) defended the president’s “hugs not bullets” strategy, arguing that it has helped reconstruct the country’s social fabric. They, however, recognized that policy adjustments are required, such as strengthening intelligence on the part of the National Guard to combat organized crime.

Clemente Castañeda, current coordinator of the Citizens’ Movement Party (MC) in the Senate, says that his party believes that the way to build peace is not through militarization, but in strengthening local police forces.

“While the federal government turns its back on them, ordinary police officers, even without equipment and resources, they continue to risk their lives to protect ours,” Castañeda said.

Mario Zamora Gastélum, a member of the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and senator of the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, believes that Mexico has become a failed state.

“Mexico has demonstrated that it is a failed state with executions, massacres every week, and criminal elements that harass journalists, even in areas close to events of President López Obrador,” Gastélum said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM) Ramón Castro Castro, added his voice to the growing clamor of Catholic Church leaders in Mexico of pressuring the AMLO administration to put an end to the violence in the country.

At the conclusion of the Eighth Walk for Peace in Cuernavaca, Morelos, on Saturday, July 2 — where tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets to participate — Castro, also bishop of the Diocese of Cuernavaca, said that the strategy of “hugs not bullets” to combat crime has not worked, and that “to a certain extent it is demagoguery and complicity.”

Castro mentioned a survey conducted in June of this year by Mitosky, an American company in the field of public-opinion research, which found that 57.2 percent of the population in Mexico considered the AMLO public-security strategy a failure, almost 70 percent believed that the government should confront crime and 62 percent thought that it was wrong for authorities to go the non-confrontational route with armed criminals.

“Violence has paralyzed the country. We see that there is so much violence because of thousands of broken hearts and fractured lives, of alienated and manipulated minds,” said Castro.

 

 

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