Outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders in his final state of the union address.
But other experts said if incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to undo his nation’s culture of violence, he needs to focus his resources on the large numbers of young people without jobs or prospects around the country, according to a leading expert on Latin America.
“Poor, rural communities make it likely young people will either migrate or become involved in criminal activity,” Eric L. Olson, Deputy Director of the Latin American program at Wilson Center in Washington D.C, told The Crime Report.
“That’s one element that the new president has promised to deal with… but we will see if that’s effective.”
Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders in his final state of the union address.
Last year, Mexico recorded 25 homicides per 100,000 population, the highest since comparable records started to be recorded in 1997—and higher than at the height of the drug war in 2011.
While local police in most parts of Mexico have long been ill-trained, poorly equipped and often corrupt, critics say current President Peña Nieto has done little to strengthen federal law enforcement.
“Regarding law enforcement and security in this administration, little was done, much was abandoned and even less groundwork was laid,” wrote newspaper columnist Alejandro Hope. He noted there was very little increase in security budgets, federal police strength or the military under the current administration.
In his final state of the union address, Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders, the Associated Press reports.
He conceding that he had not achieved his goal of bringing “peace” to the violence-racked nation, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Peña Nieto, who leaves office with historically low approval ratings, sidestepped blame for poor economic growth and rising debt during his six-year term, and he warned Mexicans not to turn to a foreign policy of “indifference.”
Apart from corruption scandals, one of the things that has reduced Peña Nieto’s approval ratings is Mexico’s unabated gang-fueled violence.
The president said the federal government “had success in significantly reducing the capacity and size” of criminal gangs.
“Unfortunately, this weakening brought with it smaller criminal groups, without there being the capacity on the local level to effectively confront them,” Nieto said.
Olson would disagree.
He argued that corruption within the federal government was the reason crime has been able to surge in Mexico.
“We know there’s no rule of law. No accountability, and this creates an environment for more crime to prosper,” he said.
He noted the two underlying problems were a lack of governance and social economic issues, such as poverty and a lack of education among youth.
I think there’s a whole host of social economic issues Obrador will have to address, he concluded.
“Poverty, and lack of education.”
This summary was prepared by TCR staff reporter Megan Hadley.