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.
The recent New York Times report that U.S. diplomatic pressure blocked General Moisés García Ochoa from being appointed defense secretaries offers a few intriguing insights, but is perhaps less scandalous than it is curious. First off, the allegations of corruption and links to drug trafficking organizations that reportedly torpedoed García Ochoa’s career were hard to prove and hardly salacious; I suspect similar rumors could be found about many top military officials in Mexico. Why García Ochoa’s potential nomination attracted the U.S.’s attention, when the head of public security under Calderón, Genaro García Luna, was hardly immune from similar suspicion of narco ties, hints at the extent to which the U.S.-Mexico relationship has become militarized. That U.S. diplomacy was able to maneuver García Ochoa out also suggests that there is a good working relationship with the Peña Nieto administration, something that was perhaps less true under Calderón.
The broader and more important story, though, is one of a failing response to drug trafficking. Calderón’s decision to employ the military as a domestic police force, while understandable given the profound structural weaknesses that plagued policing in Mexico, has not been backed by a reform of law enforcement and police and the military’s return to the barracks. Instead, the military has remained the country’s primary anti-drug force, and in turn it has become increasingly corrupted and weakened. Moreover, the deployment of the military resulted in an arms race of sorts, encouraging drug trafficking organizations to upgrade their weaponry and the military to seek U.S. assistance. It increasingly appears to be a failed strategy.
Those doubts have also crept to Capitol Hill. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he was withholding nearly $230 million in security assistance to Mexico through the so-called Merida Initiative amid concerns about whether the fight against organized crime is doing more harm than good.
“Congress has been asked for a significant new investment, but it’s not clear what the Mexican government’s plans are,” Mr. Leahy said. “It’s premature to sign off on more of the same.”
As Greg Weeks points out, the expensive militarization of the drug war is basically political snake oil: http://weeksnotice.blogspot.com/2013/02/drug-war-militarization.html
Enrique Peña Nieto issued his required declaration of property and income today, though in the public filing he declined to state the value of his houses, land, artwork, jewelry, and other belongings. (Felipe Calderón did so, as a point of reference) Per the declaration, Peña Nieto claimed a monthly income of 193,478 pesos, though he did not specify the sources. Comically, Peña Nieto also claimed not to own any cars.
Peña Nieto also declined to release a declaration of his wife’s property (again, for reference, Calderón’s did) or that of his children. According to the President, that seeming lack of transparency is excused by his government’s commitment to an anti-corruption push and a strengthening of the Federal Transparency Institute (IFAI).
Disgraced former governor of Coahuila and former Secretary General of the PRI, Humberto Moreira apparently has a new shameless trick: requesting a scholarship from the wildly corrupt SNTE teachers union to study languages abroad. Moreira, a former teacher, left Coahuila’s finances in ruins as governor, though managed to hide the scandal until after he had left office (though he successfully passed power to his brother). His shady dealings nevertheless caught up with him and he was forced to resign the leadership of the PRI. The request for a scholarship from a man who certainly does not lack for resources is so incredibly cynical that it boggles the imagination.
Source: Animal Político