1 year, 11 months ago
“Mexico cannot go on like this”, President Enrique Peña Nieto said on 27 November, addressing the country from the National Assembly. Most Mexicans would agree, yet Mexico remains embroiled in a political crisis over the disappearance of 43 students, apparently at the hands of police and local thugs and assisted by city officials, in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Protests, sometimes destructive, continue, while on this issue the government seems paralyzed: Peña Nieto’s security and justice reform package is stuck in Congress and his approval ratings have sunk to record lows.
The popular outrage reflects not only Mexicans’ exhaustion with criminal violence but also their deep distrust of a political class widely associated with corruption. So far the government seems unable to turn the tide of public opinion and undertake the institutional reforms needed to combat violence in a country where powerful criminal groups still dominate many areas.
Few would have predicted such a crisis earlier this year. In August, Peña Nieto celebrated passage of legislation to implement a comprehensive energy reform, ending the state-run oil company’s 76-year monopoly and opening the sector to private, including foreign, investment. The energy measures were the culmination of a sweeping package of new laws and constitutional amendments designed to make Mexico more competitive through fiscal and financial reforms, new education policies and an end to monopolies in telecommunications.
Then, on 26 September, several busloads of students from the rural teachers’ college of Ayotzinapa were attacked in the city of Iguala by municipal police, allegedly acting on orders of the mayor. According to witnesses interviewed by federal prosecutors, police turned the students over to members of a criminal gang known as “Guerreros Unidos”, who killed them and then incinerated the bodies in a local dump.
Neither this testimony nor the arrest of more than 80 suspects, including 44 police officers, has quelled demands for justice and the students’ return. Skepticism about the government’s version of events is high; leaked documents allegedly from government sources, published in the magazine Proceso, suggest federal and state police were alerted in real time about the students’ movements and their clashes with local police, but did nothing to stop the bloodshed. “It was the State” – a blanket indictment of all government institutions – has become a protest slogan and social media meme.
Remember folks, these are the hordes that are flooding across the border out of an act of love (and for all of you Rand Paul advocates, he thinks just like his father does on immigration). The Hispanics and Latinos don’t believe in your God-give rights to bear arms, but hey, the Chamber of Commerce will be happy and Monsanto and Archer-Daniels-Midland will have some new field workers.