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It has now come out that many of the arrests of protesters on December 1, 2012, during Peña Nieto’s inauguration, were the result of false testimony by police. This is obviously troubling, not just because it represents a rather high-profile case of human rights abuses, but because it is symptomatic of a profoundly corrupt culture of policing. What happened on December 1 was the rule rather than the exception, as police force that is undertrained and underfunded is ordered to perform tasks of investigation and enforcement they are unprepared for. Any examination of the criminal justice system, such as the Presunto Culpable documentary runs into examples of police ineptitude and abuse. In short, false denunciations seem to be as much a part of Mexican policing as wiretaps are in the United States. It goes without saying that this sort of corruption, the sort that undermines public confidence and does little to create a credible system of criminal prosecution, is in no small part responsible for the country’s inability to address the drug trade. Attempts to repair that institutional weakness, moreover, have received little meaningful support from the U.S. as part of the Merida Initiative, which instead funded helicopters and ammunition.

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