Statistics show that in May 2018, one person was killed in Mexico every 15 minutes. This number is record-breaking for the country, proving that 2018 will turn out to be even more violent than 2017, the year that saw the highest rates of violence in Mexico in the last two decades.
New President, New Hope
Mexico recently elected a new president, democratic socialist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as AMLO). He officially assumed office on December 1 and his victory has raised great hopes among the millions of poor and struggling citizens of the country.
Among other goals that he committed himself to, such as expanding health care, strengthening the education system and helping small-time farmers, AMLO plans to stem cartel violence in Mexico. When he was voted, AMLO told his gathered supporters: “This is a historic day. We represent the possibility of a real change, of a transformation.”
During his victory speech, AMLO made clear right away one crucial aspect of the transformation he was seeking. “The failed crime and violence strategy will change.”
AMLO inherited the presidential office from Enrique Peña Nieto and a bloody war on drug cartels that has lasted over a decade and taken more than 150,000 lives.
But unlike his predecessor, AMLO does not favor using a military strategy to target the cartels. In May conference, he stated that his opponents think everything can be resolved by force.
So, what’s the new President’s alternative? His strategies of stemming the cartel violence in Mexico are presented below.
Look at the Root of the Problem
AMLO said that he wants to tackle the social problems that cause people to become involved in organized crime and drug cartels in the first place. “More than through the use of force, we will tend to the causes that give rise to insecurity and violence,” he promises.
While on the campaign trail, AMLO used slogans like “Abrazos, no balazos” (hugs, not gunshots) and “Becarios sí, sicarios no” (scholars yes, killers no), to highlight his pacifist platform.
AMLO plans to contact human rights groups, religious leaders and the United Nations to start drafting a new plan for combatting the drug war.
He plans to invest in education and eradicate the poverty in the country that is the root of the problem.
AMLO has a long-term goal of re-writing drug laws to decriminalize recreational use of marijuana. He is considering making it legal to using opium for medicinal reasons.
Former Supreme Court Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero, who is AMLO’S proposed interior minister, said that poppy production could be legalized to supply the national pharmaceutical company.
All of this could take away the main sources of income for Mexico’s cartels, whose profits come almost mostly from trafficking illegal drugs.
The new president is also interested in substituting transitional justice for punitive sentencing and imprisonment. The United Nations defines transitional justice as the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.
Transitional justice has been used in Rwanda, for example, as of way of rebuilding from the 1994 genocide. Now, AMLO’s administration is looking to transitional justice for guidance in creating peace in Mexico.
Some aspects of transitional justice that AMLO wants to employ are truth commissions and giving reparations to victims’ family members. Reparations could come in the form of money, work or education.
One of AMLO’s most controversial ideas is giving partial amnesty to those involved in drug gangs. This amnesty would, however, only apply to non-violent offenders.
Instead of sending them to prison, he sees social work and public service as viable alternatives that could be more effective long-term because this would remove the primary motivations that young people have for joining the drug gangs.
The members of drug cartels eligible for amnesty plans are primarily those whose jobs were planting drugs, serving as lookouts or working as drug mules.
He is not proposing to grant amnesty to those directly involved in the more than 150,000 killings that threaten to destabilize the country entirely.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to stem cartel violence in Mexico. He espouses the lofty goal of eradicating violence by the middle of his first 6-year term in office.
His approach is so different and innovative than those of his predecessors that it might just work. The people of Mexico and the whole world will soon find out if this will actually work.
– Evann Orleck-Jetter