21 | MAY | 2019
Violence, López Obrador's biggest challenge
Violence and crime have increased exponentially in the last decade - Photo: Henry Romero/REUTERS

Violence, López Obrador's biggest challenge

10/03/2019
09:09
Mexico City
Editorial
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Salamanca is currently the most insecure place in Mexico; it has reached the same violence levels as Ciudad Juárez in 2010

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100 days after President López Obrador took office, it can't be expected that violence and insecurity rates in the country would decrease only because there is a new administration. This became evident in the transition between former Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto. Now, the alarm went off in several places throughout the country: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Puebla, Hidalgo, Mexico, Quintana Roo, among others. The reports indicate that Salamanca is currently the most insecure place in Mexico, as it has reached the same violence levels Ciudad Juárez had back in 2010, considered as the worst moment in that city in regards to urban violence. In recent times, the alarms went off in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and Apatzingán, in Michoacán, where organized crime fought the army and federal forces.

The common factor in these cases has been a weak local police force, who had to delegate their responsibilities to military forces. Nevertheless, despite their power and resources, the military forces will never be able to substitute municipal and state police forces, whose proximity to the communities would be the only tool to solve the increasing violence that has taken over the country in recent years.

Hopefully, the federal government will understand that the presence of officials carrying weapons on the streets is enough, as in the case of Ciudad Juárez a couple of years ago, where the crime rate decreased when the federal police was substituted with a cooperation scheme between society and local and federal authorities, as well as a police force that was formed by community members that understood the problems in every street and every neighborhood because they were part of the community.

It's essential not to forget the training of local police forces. It's worth remembering that the National Guard is an extraordinary measure for a context where there are no trustworthy local structures. There will be no long-term solution without police officers that belong to the communities so that people trust them and cooperates and denounce the criminals.

Also, speeches or good intentions, by themselves, won't diminish crime rates. The authorities have to evaluate what measures have been implemented until now and not make the same mistakes. There are examples of communities that have been successful and which should be considered.

Despite the fact that crime rates haven't decreased during the first months of the new administration, the population hasn't lost all hope. They are patient. The enormous vote of confidence they granted the new administration shouldn't be wasted.

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