Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Crime victims are not just statistics," Calderón tells National Security Council

The forgotten "desaparecidos," campaign security and a candidate so brave that he dispenses with "special security"

Addressing Mexico's 32nd National Public Security Council as the keynote speaker this morning, president Felipe Calderón promised that the country would do its best to identify every victim of the drug war, "irrespective of whether the person was or was not involved in criminal activity." Calderón also said that his administration was committed to "protecting the integrity of the democratic process" in Mexico's upcoming elections, especially the presidential contest, so that they remain free of organized crime influence. As many as 80 million Mexicans are expected to vote on July 1, when they will select a successor to Calderón, whose last day in office is Nov. 30. Other office holders also will be elected.

Los desaparecidos (the disappeared)
In Mexico's 62 month old offensive against the drug cartels over 50,000 people have died. Many others have simply vanished. Most of them were ordinary citizens. They walked out the front door of home or workplace one day and into the perpetual fog of uncertainty. The burden carried every day by their loved ones left behind undoubtedly exceeds that of those who at least are able to bury their casualties. A grave to visit and a place to shed tears are far more merciful companions than unanswered, and unanswerable, questions.

In 2011 Mexico established a new governmental agency to focus on these invisible victims of war. The Procuraduría Social de Atención a Víctimas del Delito (Províctima), loosely translated as Office of Crime Victims' Advocate, hopes to be able to provide answers to thousands. In inauguratory remarks last October, president Calderón said that concrete information on the disappeared is scarce and anecdotal. "The reports often are made to local authorities, naturally, and we don't really have a good idea on the size and scope of the problem, but I believe the numbers could be quite high." One of the functions of the Office will be to prepare and maintain a National Crime Victims Register. Províctima's director is Sara Irene Herrerías.

"Each victim is an open wound on society. Our legal and moral obligation is to close that wound," said Calderón in remarks last year.

The vanished: Mexico's open wound:

Campaign security
Calderón also confirmed that the presidential candidates will be protected at government expense during the general campaign, just as are nominees in the United States. Security is provided by Mexico's crack Estado Mayor Presidencial, which is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Secret Service. Additionally, some federal office candidates (for the Senate and House of Deputies) may be offered protection if a risk evaluation suggests the need, a primary component of which will be the geographical region where the candidate is seeking office. Calderón noted that 28 Mexican mayors have been assassinated since the drug war began in Dec. 2006 (

Other candidates may just invest in a good set of body armor to get them through the rigors of campaigning:

Footnote: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto said today that he won't be using any "special security" during the campaign. O.K. . . . Then why does that unsmiling guy who's always standing just behind him in a black suit and sunglasses carry a Heckler & Koch .9 mm MP5 submachine pistol, set on full rock 'n roll?

Mayor of Mazatlán narrowly escapes assassination:
Sinaloa governor moves family out of Mexico:

1 comment:

  1. Reader Wayne Harris sent me this query by direct e-mail:

    "Good morning, Ed, I hope I have the right person. I just read on the internet information from President Calderon concerning the establishment of the "Office of Crime Victims' Advocate". I replied on the blog how pleased I was to realize there is legitimate concern on the part of the Mexican government. On Nov. 30, 2009, a female body was found floating in Ixtapa Bay, apparently a "drowning". I have been informed she was Canadian, last seen at Las Brisas Hotel, Ixtapa. Photos and description were in the local newspaper but I understand no one has identified her. Is this something that could be pursued by the new office? Wayne Harris, Canada."

    Answer: I'm not at all familiar with the case of which you write, Wayne. But perhaps the federal agency mentioned in my post could help. Their office is in Mexico City. It would be indispensable to have a fluent Spanish speaker to assist if you decide to file a report or make an inquiry.