Mexico Needs a Comprehensive Security Commission to Overcome Rampant Criminality

Mexico Needs a Comprehensive Security Commission to Overcome Rampant Criminality

TORRÉON, Mexico -- Fernando Martí, the 14-year-old son of a Mexican sporting goods magnate, was kidnapped in June, strangled within a few days of his abduction, and found in the trunk of a car in the nation's capital in August. His ordeal -- along with stratospheric levels of drug violence and the recent designation of Mexico as the country that leads the world in kidnappings -- has provoked a groundswell of outrage across Mexican society. Politicians, civil groups, newspaper commentators, the business community -- virtually everyone drawing breath from Tijuana to Cancun agrees that Mexico's rampant criminality must be addressed.

However, agreement on exactly how to address this insecurity is conspicuously absent. Officials are scrambling to change Mexico's criminal justice system like a pair of dirty socks. President Felipe Calderón suggested life sentences for certain kidnappers and established a new anti-kidnapping task force to be staffed by 300 federal agents and deployed around the country. Marcelo Ebrard, the mayor of Mexico City, abolished the discredited Judicial Police, replacing it with the Investigatory Police.

The Martí case also sparked a flurry of vaguely defined meetings, reunions, convocations, and summits. The most visible was a session of the National Security Council on Aug. 21, which led to a 75-point agreement signed by the president, governors, union leaders, civil groups, the business community, and the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the meeting was plagued by petty bickering about who would sit next to whom and other trivia, and afterward the political class was no more united in the struggle against delinquency. The 75 points failed to provoke any surge in confidence from citizens. According to surveys by Imagen Radio, 64 percent of respondents didn't think the recommendations would be successful, and 96 percent said they wouldn't feel any more secure after the event.

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