After his heavily disputed election in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderón embarked on his widespread and public war on the country’s drug cartels, only to experience an extreme increase in violence as a result, including the recent gunning down of five police officers and hit men that ruthlessly left a man dead outside an elementary school.
The Mexicans are getting fed up with this violence. Because of this, the government must implement a realistic strategy that focuses more on meaningful reform of judicial and social programs. Since 2008, cartel violence has been responsible to more than 40,000 deaths, yet the government has refused to abandon its militant approach. It should instead attempt reasonable ways to minimize innocent deaths and promote thorough reforms, rather than attempting to smother unrest through near martial law militancy.
The country’s solution can perhaps be found in The National Movement for Peace and Justice, a movement fighting for an end to violence while receiving increased attention from the public and government.
Headed by prominent poet Javier Sicilia, the group has become an anti-violence force that is holding the government accountable to violence. Sicilia and his followers have begun to make ripples in Mexican politics through protests and meetings with Calderón, but the system remains deaf to most public concerns.
If the cartel violence is to stop, Mexico needs a new president with a more internal, comprehensive agenda. Many question the ability of having fair elections in this upcoming year due to cartels' having a tight grip on most aspects of Mexico. The inherent corruption that has developed within Mexico’s politics needs to be cleansed through sweeping reforms on the judicial systems and reviving the social programs that have all but been forgotten. The judicial system needs to impose severe penalties on all public officials with ties to cartel influence. As elections approach, politicians are more than happy to offer their support to this populist movement. Although this openness to change on the part of politicians seems refreshing, these public officials need to be held more accountable.
The National Movement for Peace and Justice is acting as enforcer of a still fragile democracy that only 12 years ago emerged from a lengthy one-party rule to soon find itself infested with violent drug traffickers and criminal organizations soon after. The movement must keep public pressure on politicians and push for a strategy that could work sustainably rather than settling for a heavy-handed police state, where masked cops with machine guns have become the norm. The new administration also needs to keep its northern neighbors, the United States, out of the situation. The CIA and DEA are overeager to keep running undercover trafficking missions that have previously gone awry, leaving guns and drugs in the wrong hands. The U.S. is also strongly behind the militant approach that has only instilled more fear in society and normalized the police state.
As the PRI party is fighting to regain control from the Party of National Action, it is sure to be an election race full of pledges to end drug violence. However, without vast changes in the ways that the Mexican government is combating the cartels, it will surely stay the same.
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