Category Archives: Politricks

Baja Gasoline Tax Increase


by staff gasoline editor Fila Rupp  

Headlines show “33% gasoline price increase”.  Thankfully, this increase is only on the IEPS tax.  With Magna(regular) around 19 pesos/liter, this 82 cent increase will take prices up to 20 pesos/liter or $4USD/gallon(19 pesos to dollar exchange rate).

And who is successfully using a gas price app in Baja?  Have tried Zenzzer and Gaso App with weak results.

televisa.com

From October 20 to 26, it will increase the IEPS tax rate per liter of fuel , so there will be a greater burden for consumers.

From Saturday 20 and until October 26, Magna and Premium gasoline and diesel will have an increase in the Special Tax on Production and Services (IEPS), Expansión reported .

The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) reported that the quota for Magnagasoline for the following week will be 3.26 pesos per liter, 33.6% or 82 cents more than what is paid today.

Diario Oficial DOF

@DOF_SEGOB

19_10_2018 Estímulo fiscal, así como las cuotas disminuidas del IEPS aplicables a los combustibles que se indican. https://bit.ly/2NPc2ZP 

For Premium , the tax will increase 29.5% or 0.80 cents, the fee per liter will be 3.55 pesos.

For diesel, the quota increased 22.5% or 48 cents, going from 2.17 pesos last week to 2.66 pesos per liter.

The increase occurs in the penultimate month of the current administration, “it is a political cost that the outgoing government can assume and that will help generate income for the new government,” said Arturo Carranza, energy consultant at the National Institute of Administration. Public (INAP).

Every Friday, the Ministry of Finance determines and publishes in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) the amounts of the federal IEPS fees charged per liter of gasoline and diesel. The maximum quota that can be applied this year is 4.59 pesos per liter of Magna, 3.88 per liter of Premium, and 5.04 pesos per liter of diesel .

The Ministry of Finance adjusts this quota to the drop when the prices of crude oil rise in the international market, and therefore, of the gasoline that Mexico imports from the United States, the objective is that the increases in the prices of gasoline are not as marked by this tax burden, is a practice that he has been doing since last year and that his then head, José Antonio Meade, called “softening”.

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Operation Blazing Sands


officer.com

Just east of border fence construction that has been visited by both the vice president and the homeland security secretary, Border Patrol launched Operation Blazing Sands last month to deter illegal border crossings and thwart human smuggling attempts.

Border Patrol noticed an uptick in smuggling organization activity along a stretch of border in the southeastern-most part of the California desert, according to agent Justin Castrejon. Agents responded in mid-August with Operation Blazing Sands, a collaboration between Border Patrol’s El Centro and Yuma sectors.

“This operation leverages the strengths of El Centro Sector and Yuma Sector to better target transnational criminal organizations,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the El Centro Sector, after the operation launched.

Agents apprehended 2,427 people illegally crossing that part of the border from October 2017 through July 2018, before the operation began, according to data from the sector. That’s about eight people per day and just over 10 percent of the 23,452 people caught in the entire El Centro Sector during that period.

The sector splits its 70 miles of border among three Border Patrol stations. The 20-mile area where Operation Blazing Sands is focused, known to agents there as the “east desert,” makes up close to 29 percent of that border and is patrolled by agents from the Calexico station.

Calexico station is the fifth busiest along the southwest border, Castrejon said.

About 10 miles outside of the town of Calexico, the landscape turns from farmland to short brush and small mounds of sand. The All American canal runs between Interstate 8 and the border, and the canal’s steep sides and strong currents sometimes trap border crossers who are often already exhausted from their journey through the desert in Mexico.

For many trying to sneak across the border in the El Centro Sector, their goal is Interstate 8, Castrejon explained. If they can make it to a car that’s supposed to pick them up there, they can disappear into traffic before they are detected.

Near the Gordon Wells exit on Interstate 8, the All American Canal curves under the highway, removing the dangerous obstacle from border crossers’ path and allowing the freeway to stretch closer to Mexico. The sand begins to mound higher in this part of the desert though the dunes don’t yet reach the peaks of those further east at Buttercup, a popular dune buggy area.

A Border Patrol camera tower stands near the exit, and agents frequently make “cuts” in the area, checking for footprints where they had dragged the sand smooth earlier in the day.

Just before the canal turns away from Mexico, the border fence changes from 15- to 20-foot bollards used in town to a “floating fence” that was built around 2009. The floating fence has similar bollards, or posts placed close together, that are a few feet shorter, and its base allows agents to prevent sand from mounding into dunes along the fence until it is easy to climb over. If the sand gets too high, the fence can be lifted and set down again on top.

Despite the heat and the sand that drags and slides underfoot, the area around Gordon Wells has become a popular place to cross, Castrejon said.

He and fellow agent Jose Enriquez, their eyes habitually scanning for signs of crossings, were quick to point out footprints on the Mexican side of the fence and a piece of rope tied between bollards to act as a ladder. Sun-blanched water bottles were scattered on the ground around the fence.

Castrejon said when he was patrolling in the east desert about a month ago, less than 10 minutes after he checked the area by Gordon Wells, an agent monitoring the camera tower alerted him to a group that had just crossed there.

“As much as we’re watching out for them, they’re watching us,” Castrejon said.

The group made it to a car and headed west on the freeway. Castrejon responded, arresting one U.S. citizen smuggler and four unauthorized immigrants.

When border crossers do make it to the highway, agents can try to pull the car over. If the driver refuses to stop, agents collaborate over radios to monitor where the car goes. In some cases, including for at least one arrest so far during Operation Blazing Sands, agents can deploy a “vehicle immobilization device” that punctures the car’s tires with hollow needles and slowly lets the air out. The gradual deflating helps keep the car’s passengers safer, Castrejon said.

After agents make arrests, they backtrack to the border to look for people that the group might have left behind. Smugglers often abandon people who become sick or injured because they don’t want to slow down the group, Castrejon said.

“Smugglers don’t have any regard for human life,” he said. “All they care about is money.”

Operation Blazing Sands has increased the number of agents operating in the east desert, borrowing from other stations in both sectors, Castrejon said. He was not permitted to say how many agents were involved.

“We’re not going to sit by and let a part of the border not be in our control,” he said.

On a recent morning, several agents in trucks patrolled close to the border and along the highway. A helicopter hovered overhead, waiting if needed.

The operation’s first arrest came two days after the effort began, according to a press release, when an agent spotted five people crossing illegally into the U.S. The group got into a car, and the agent followed and stopped it in Brawley.

Castrejon declined to say how many people the operation has apprehended so far.

According to press releases that cited Blazing Sands, at least 10 people, almost all U.S. citizens, have been charged with human smuggling after being apprehended through the operation. They were transporting 23 people who were not authorized to be in the U.S.

The operation is also intended to prevent migrants from dying in the desert’s extreme heat. Temperatures there can reach 120 during summer days.

Border Patrol agents in the El Centro Sector have found 14 people who died crossing the border so far in fiscal 2018, Castrejon said, and many of those deaths were in the east desert.

“A lot of times, people will get in trouble and underestimate their abilities,” Castrejon said. “The terrain is unforgiving.”

Agents treat many who cross in this area for heat exhaustion, Castrejon said.

Castrejon declined to say how long the operation would last because Border Patrol didn’t want to tip off smugglers.

“It’s going to be in operation for the foreseeable future,” Castrejon said.

Border Patrol also plans to gather intelligence on smuggling organizations in the area as part of the project.

Follow me on Facebook for live updates about immigration news

kate.morrissey@sduniontribune.com@bgirledukate on Twitter

Border Wall Prototypes Fail


by staff Special Weapons And Tactics Editor Bambi Bamboo 

sandiegored

It seems that the prototypes of the border walls are not directly fulfilling what the president of the United States, Donald Trump, was looking for in the beginning, to end the illegal crossing of immigrants.

A recent report from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) details that under scrutiny and evidence that some of the prototypes may be mocked, they would have failed to stop illegal immigration.

The eight prototypes were at Otay Mesa were tested and evaluated for aspects such as gaps, scale, aesthetics, constructability and design, which were in charge of Tactical Teams, CBP experts, the US Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command.

The report shows 13 figures labeled as “trespassed”, however it is not known what they are, since the photos were removed from the statement.

In the scenarios that have been able to “violate” these prototypes include equipment that physically penetrates the walls or scenarios of timed climbing. This is why the union representative of CBP, Joshua Wilson, points out that it takes a long time to penetrate the wall as well as highly specialized equipment.

Wilson comments:

 The wall is never going to be everything, but what it is capable of doing is slowing down the illegal traffic that crosses the border and gives the border patrol not only a safer working environment, but it also allows us time to identify and intercept that traffic and deploy appropriate resources to deal with it

Finally, the report confirms that indestructible designs can not be created and that these could only help agents to gain more time before a possible violation of the wall. CBP will identify new features to add to the final design.

Via NBC San Diego

New Tax Catastrophe


Bajadock: Interesting that this photo is of Manzanillo for an article about Ensenada.

mexiconewsdaily

Excluding Ensenada from the northern border free zone proposed by the incoming federal government will be an economic catastrophe for the city, says the head of a local business group.

President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said that his government will establish a zone extending 30 kilometers south of the Mexico-United States border in which the value-added tax (IVA) rate will be cut by half from 16% to 8%, the maximum income tax (ISR) rate will be reduced from 30% to 20% and the minimum wage will be doubled.

Under the plan, border cities such as Tijuana, Mexicali, Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa will get the benefits but cities in border states located further to the south, including Ensenada and San Felipe in Baja California, will not.

Ensenada is about 100 kilometers south of the border.

Alejandro Jara Soria, president of the Ensenada branch of the National Chamber for Industrial Transformation (Canacintra), charges that the plan proposed by López Obrador will effectively cut Ensenada off from the broader economic region and make attracting new investment nearly impossible.

“It would be catastrophic for Ensenada; since 1933 until today Ensenada has always been part of the border region. Ensenada doesn’t see itself not being part of it, it’s surrounded by sea and desert. There is no other city with which it can trade apart from the state of California and with Tijuana and Tecate,” he said.

“From the beginning, the tax benefits that Tijuana or Tecate will have, Ensenada won’t have. Therefore, we won’t be able to attract more investment, all the shoppers who come to Ensenada will buy in Tijuana, the businesses [here] can practically close [now],” Jara added.

The chamber leader charged that a 10% income tax saving and 8% saving on inputs would be too attractive for industry in Ensenada not to take up and they would consequently move their operations closer to the border, adding that there are 450 Canacintra-affiliated factories in Ensenada, generating 25,000 jobs.

“There’s no plan B in this, Ensenada is in a unique situation in the country. That’s why since 1933 the whole [Baja California] peninsula has been considered [part of the border region]. We are isolated . . .” Jara said.

He also pointed out that there are high levels of poverty in the municipality of Ensenada and that low-income workers such as jornaleros, or day laborers, will become even more marginalized.

Baja California Governor Francisco Vega told a press conference Wednesday that he had asked López Obrador to include Ensenada in the free zone plans.

But later the same day, López Obrador confirmed via Twitter that the zone would be limited to 30 kilometers south of the border.

The aim of the plan is to boost investment in 44 border municipalities in six states, he said.

Governor Vega said today it might be possible to include both Ensenada and San Felipe at a later date.

Border VAT Tax Decrease Excludes Ensenada


Bajadock: Photo is Baja Governor Vega left and President-Elect Lopez Obrador(aka AMLO).  Since AMLO’s announced proposal of reducing the 16% value added tax, Ensenada politicians and business leaders have been asking to be included in the reduction due to Ensenada’s close ties to the Southern California economy.  Several articles were published daily about Ensenada’s desire to reduce the VAT to 8%.  But, the 30 kilometer border zone will be the limit and Ensenada’s VAT will remain at 16%.

elvigia

Work in the Border Free Zone program, as well as reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) by 8 percent, the Income Tax (ISR) to 20 percent and double the minimum wage, in a band of 30 kilometers, were the results of a private meeting of border governors with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president-elect.

Francisco Vega de Lamadrid said that the meeting also addressed the problematic features of the northern border of Mexico, such as irregular cars, the proposed tax regime for the border, the prices of gasoline in border cities, among other issues of importance for the economic development of the region.

Vega de Lamadrid proposed to generate a formula to be more competitive with the prices of the energy of the United States and particularly with the State of California, “the homologation of prices between Baja California and California would not be enough, we must find a formula to be even more competitive in the price of gasoline, “he said.

The state governor mentioned that the issue of an increase to twice the minimum wage and other important policies was also addressed, which he considered will provoke the interest of many Mexicans, especially from the south and southeast, who will have to turn to the border in search of better opportunities, so it was pronounced in requiring greater budgetary support, since greater services will be required to provide coverage to those who arrive in Baja California, such as water, health and education to name a few.

Participants in meeting
The governor of Sonora, Claudia Pavlovich Arellano; as well as the governors of Chihuahua, Javier Corral Jurado;from Coahuila, Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís; of Tamaulipas, Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca and de Nuevo León, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón.

Also present were members of the incoming cabinet headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador: the next Secretary of Economy, Graciela Márquez Colín; the next Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu), Román Meyer Falcón and who will be Treasury Secretary, Carlos Urzúa Macías.

Seatbelt Checkpoint in Ensenada


Bajadock: On the priority list of crimes against society in Ensenada, where does driving without a seat belt rank? Will tire pressure, proper oil level and windshield wiper efficacy checkpoints be coming soon?

LUIS MIGUEL RAMÍREZ / EL VIGÍA

For not using the safety belt or the special chair for infants, a total of 28 drivers was sanctioned by municipal agents, during an operation carried out in the so-called “stretch of death” in the Maneadero delegation.

The commander of Transit, José Luis Gutiérrez Bojórquez, reported that for the second time this week, the filter was installed on the Transpeninsular highway and Avenida Miguel Allende, which is located in the lower part of the town.

Before the randomly installed inspection point, around 800 vehicles circulated, in which it was verified that both the driver and his companions used belts or that children were transported in safety seats.

The official recalled that this type of action is based on Article 113 of the Municipal Traffic Regulation, which regulates that all drivers who drive in a vehicle on public roads, must wear the seat belt, as well as other occupants.

THE FILTERS WILL CONTINUE
As they are minors, where for height reasons they do not exceed 135 centimeters of height and a weight of 33 kilos, they should use a vehicle safety seat for infants, also known as a child restraint system.

Article 113 also indicates that children will not be able to travel in the front seats before age 12. Gutiérrez Bojórquez said that seven cars were towed, whose drivers lacked guarantees.

The foregoing is because they violated article 27, in the absence of a driver’s license, and 209, due to the lack of a current driving card.

To conclude, the commander of Municipal Transit added that these activities will continue to be carried out as part of the promotion of the culture of legality and prevention, as it seeks to avoid road incidents that put at risk the citizens who pass through that area.

Idea for Lower Crime in Mexico


freethoughtproject.com

A town in Mexico recently celebrated seven years since kicking out the corrupt narco government and reverting back to an indigenous form of self-governance. 

In the town of Cherán, in Michoacán, Mexico, a system of traditional indigenous law-enforcement and accountability continues to guide the people. In early 2011, residents of Cherán created armed militias to fight off illegal logging and drug cartels in their community. The community kicked out politicians and police accused of ties to the drug cartels and began a new system of governance based on Purhépecha traditions.

On April 15 of this year, Cherán celebrated seven years since their revolt against what they call “the narco government”. The people marked the seventh year of self-governance by naming third Council of Elders.

“The narco government included a wide variety of characters, including cartel thugs or “sicarios” working alongside illegal loggers who conspired to ravish Cherán’s forests and anyone who got in their way. Cherán lost over 50 community members between 2007 and 2011. Many of those simply disappeared, never to be seen again.

When Cherán rose up, the local mayor, his cabinet, and all the local police fled the community and left community members to fend for themselves. This and many other details that would come to light during first months of the uprising exposed the collusion of local politicians and the police with organized crime and the very violent and illicit logging activity.”

Once the corrupt police and politicians left, the community collected the weapons, vehicles, and uniforms and established their own “ronda comunitaria” or community guard. When the uprising first began you might see elderly women with sticks defending the community. These days the community guard is mostly young men and women with professional weapons.

Seven years later and Cherán has one of the lowest levels of violence in all of Mexico. Quite an accomplishment while living in the violent state of Michoacán. “[Cherán’s] main achievement has been peace. It has the lowest homicide rate in all of Michoacán – and maybe all of Mexico outside of [the south-eastern state of] Yucatán, ” Benjamín Fernández, a sociologist at the Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (Ciesas), told The Guardian.

“The only thing the parties have done is divide us,” said Salvador Ceja, Cherán’s communal lands commissioner. “Not just here – in the entire country.”

Shortly after the uprising, all cell phone, television, and radio service were reportedly shut off, disconnecting the people from the rest of the world. In this space, the people of Cherán came together to organize nightly “fogatas’, or campfire barricades, which became the central meeting points for organizing. During this process the community came to a consensus and agreed to return to their traditional forms of self-governance using a collective decision making process that continues today.

“The fogatas met every night during the uprising,” TV Cheran reported. “Each fogata would send proposals and a representative to neighborhood assemblies and then to community assemblies. The fogata element of the communal government in Cherán was the only new element.”

The neighborhood assemblies and the larger general assembly are examples of traditional forms of self-governance that were practiced in Cherán 40 years earlier. However, over time political parties and external forms of governance were forced on the people.

While the community guard is by no means a perfect institution it does offer benefits to the locals that were not available under the police or cartels. Local business owners are no longer forced to pay several hundred dollars a month to criminals. The community guard is accountable to the town assembly and chosen by the people.

This model is closer to traditional indigenous governance systems than what we are used to seeing in most modern cities. However, it offers a window into a different possibility that awaits for those individuals and communities that are willing to take their lives and their governance, back into their own hands. When the people are forced to either accept violence or defend their homes, it seems obvious they will organize and fight.

 

USA Sues Tijuana for Pollution


Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra at Border Field State Park in San Diego in September 2017. Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018 against the federal government to force action on preventing sewage pollution spilling into California from Tijuana. (Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

SDUT

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday night against the Trump administration, alleging that the federal government violated the Clean Water Act by allowing, in recent years, millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals and other contamination to routinely spill from Tijuana into San Diego.

Toxic water pollution from Mexico shuttered San Diego beaches located near the Tijuana River Valley on more than 500 days in the last three years, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit — which specifically targets the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC — paints a picture of a negligent and dismissive federal agency, failing to follow through on its responsibility to address cross-border issues with Mexico.

“While the federal government has invested in other border issues, they haven’t invested in these water-quality issues,” said Dave Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, which filed the lawsuit jointly with the state Attorney General.

“California taxpayers shouldn’t expect that their money go to fix this when it’s the responsibility of the federal government,” he added.

IBWC and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment for this story, citing the litigation.

In the past, agency officials have said they have little authority over the congressional funding needed to improve the situation.

The state’s lawsuit follows a similar legal strategy launched by elected officials in South Bay San Diego after a spill last year sent hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing down the Tijuana River into the Pacific Ocean, fouling beaches as far north as Coronado.

Following failed talks with IBWC, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego filed a lawsuit against the federal agency in March alleging sweeping violations of Clean Water Act.

The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation also filed a similar lawsuit in July.

The county and city of San Diego signaled a willingness to join the legal strategy, but neither party has followed through yet.

Plaintiffs argued that because IBWC controls a flood-control channel that redirects the Tijuana River on its way to the Pacific Ocean, as well as water-capture basins in five canyons along the border, the agency is responsible for the pollution that often escapes those systems.

The canyon collectors and pumps on the Tijuana River are intended to divert polluted flows to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant west of San Ysidro.

“We’ve learned that small spills when they’re really toxic can have a huge impact on public health, and if IBWC were doing their job it wouldn’t happen,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina “They’re not even trying. All they do it make excuses. It’s embarrassing how little they care about environmental or public health or following the law.”

Lawyers for the defense have said that the government isn’t legally responsible for the renegade flows that escape their collection systems, pointing out that the situation would be significantly worse without its efforts.

Before the federal government spent roughly $344 million to create its diversion and treatment system in the 1990s, millions of gallons of sewage would flow daily down the Tijuana River into San Diego County.

Following an unexpected tour of the Tijuana River Valley, federal court judge Jeffrey T. Miller ruled that the case could move forward despite a motion by the defense to dismiss the lawsuit.

The state’s lawsuit takes a narrower approach than that of the local cities. It focuses specifically on the maintenance and operation of the collector basins, which are designed to funnel water that spills through the canyons during dry weather to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant west of San Ysidro.

The lawsuit alleges that IBWC has failed to keep the diversion pumps free of debris, leading to a clogged system that allows the basins to overflow into the surrounding areas.

The complaint also says the agency has failed to document and report spills on a number of occasions in recent years.

As foul-smelling, often black, polluted water has bypassed the collection systems, it has impacted border patrol agents working in the area, as well as residents and farmers in the Tijuana River Valley.

Union officials with the National Border Patrol Council have said they have considered filing a lawsuit against the federal government to force more action on the issue.

“We’re trying not to go down that road, but we don’t want our people to be getting chemical burns or getting sick or dying early because they won’t clean it up,” said Christopher Harris, a border agent in San Diego for 20 years and the secretary for the local border patrol union.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted officials with Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Tijuana, or CESPT, a state agency that operates the city’s sewer and water delivery system.

Regional director German Lizola told a group of elected officials and business leaders that Tijuana was having a hard time keeping up with its population growth.

“We continue to knock on many doors. We are doing everything possible to work on these issues,” he said through a translator.

“The problem that we have to face is a lack of resources for infrastructure in Mexico,” he added. “We are two different countries and that deal with different issues.”

Officials have said that Tijuana and other border towns have some of the best wastewater infrastructure in Mexico, in large part, due to past U.S. grants and other federal programs that facilitate low-interest loans.

20 Peso Coin Replaces Paper


Bajadock: The 20 and 50 peso bills are plastic and don’t play well when folded with 100, 200 and 500 notes.  Wish they would simply change the 20/50 to paper, like the rest of the currency.

elimparcial.com

A new series of changes in the family of bills and coins is next after the presentation of the new bill of 500 pesos, which will bring changes to the other pieces, specifically in the 20 pesos.

The disappearance of the 20 peso bill is a reality and will occur gradually.

The arrival of the 500-peso bill with the face of Benito Juárez caused confusion because of the similarities it has with the 20 pesos; however, the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) announced that it will stop circulating gradually and will be replaced by a currency.

Currently there are coins of 20 pesos, however its circulation is not very common, a scenario to which citizens must adapt before the substitution of the ticket.

With these changes, 20 peso coins will not be exclusively commemorative and will begin to circulate constantly to make transactions.

This change occurs after a cost-benefit analysis carried out by the Central Bank.

Numismatica@Numismatica1

From commemorative coins to common use 

In 2015, the 20 peso coins commemorated the celebration of the centenary of the Mexican Air Force and another one of the same value was later issued for the Bicentennial of José María Morelos y Pavón.

In 2017, the Centennial of the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico and also the 50th Anniversary of the DN-III-E Plan were celebrated.

AMLO’s Anti Violence Plan


Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat republished from “The Conversation”

“Removing the army from the streets without capable police officers to replace them could strengthen organised crime groups and make the situation worse.”

Mexican voters upended their country’s political establishment this summer when they elected Andres Manuel López Obrador – the left-wing former mayor of Mexico City known as AMLO – by an overwhelming margin. His impressive victory owed a lot to his personal charisma and populist rhetoric, but it also reflected the public’s weariness with Mexico’s current state of affairs – and in particular, with criminal violence.

Long a problem for Mexico, deadly violence is now at an all time high. There were more than 31,000 murders in 2017, the highest number on record, and this year is shaping up to be even deadlier.

López Obrador’s term begins on December 1, but his incoming government has already pledged to reduce violent crime by between 30-50% within three years, and to bring crime rates in line with those in OECD countries within six years. To achieve this, it has come up with three strategies: tackling the “root causes” of crime through social policy, ending the war against organised crime, and restructuring security institutions.

One of the central ideas behind López Obrador’s approach to security is that when it comes to fighting crime, the best policy is social policy. But muddling social policy with crime policy is troublesome; rather than lifting people out of criminogenic conditions, it can simply spawn a welter of social programmes that have little bearing on crime at all.

This is what happened during the tenure of the outgoing administration, when every proposal from cooking lessons to handing out free glasses to schoolchildren was held up as a worthwhile crime prevention initiative. This sort of policy making neglects the fact that the police can actually be very effective at preventing crime in the short term.

AMLO clearly sees things differently. He plans to roll out an extensive scholarship programme aimed at preventing the 7m young people not in education, employment or training from joining criminal gangs, even though there is no consistent evidence showing that youth unemployment and poverty are the main drivers of involvement in organised crime. Though scant research on this topic has been conducted in Mexico itself, evidence from the UK has shown the opposite: as youth unemployment and poverty has increased, the amount of crime committed by this age group has actually decreased.

Beyond the drug war

On a different front, the incoming government has correctly identified the decade-long war on organised crime as one of the main drivers of violence. But while it has proposed a three-pronged plan to bring about peace, it is unlikely that this is achievable in the short term.

First, AMLO and his team have proposed implementing a process of transitional justice to break the cycle of violence, including a controversial amnesty for low-level drug-traffickers. There is still much uncertainty as to how this would be implemented, but it remains unclear whether it would actually help end violence in Mexico, since these mechanisms were designed to manage the aftermath of political and ethnic conflicts.

[When pressed for details on the amnesty plan, López Obrador has simply responded that “amnesty is not impunity” or that Mexico needs “justice,” not “revenge.” And states it is a work in progress.  Last year he stunned campaign watchers by saying he would consider amnesty to traffickers but has tempered that somewhat.  Read moreusing this hyper link]

Second, with a growing global consensus that the current drug prohibition regime has failed, the new government plans to legalise cannabis and the cultivation of opium poppies. However, wholesale legalisation of cannabis has never been attempted in a country as large and complex – and as fraught with poor institutions – as Mexico. That means it may be years before legalisation is implemented, as the necessary regulatory frameworks and institutions will have to be established first.

In addition, legalisation in Mexico would create more opportunities for smuggling drugs into the US – potentially a boon for some organised crime groups, and potentially a serious risk to an already troubled relationship with Washington.

Finally, the new government has pledged to train enough police officers to remove the armed forces from the fight against organised crime in three years. But this plan is based on a highly optimistic estimate of the state’s capacity to recruit and train new police officers.

Between 2015 and 2016, there were 133,000 soldiers involved in the fight against organised crime; replacing them would require at least 50,000 new elite federal police officers. President Calderón (2006-2012) took six years to recruit 20,000 federal police officers. His successor, Peña Nieto, promised a 50,000-strong National Gendarmerie, but ultimately delivered a force of fewer than 5,000. It’s highly unlikely that the new government will be able to perform any better.

Reinventing the police

The incoming government has also hinted at yet another redesign of Mexico’s security institutions. Though they have dropped a plan to create a “National Guard” incorporating the army and the police, AMLO plans to recreate the Federal Security Ministry (dissolved by the outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto), to form a new police force charged with protecting tourist destinations, and to replace the country’s intelligence agency with an entirely new body.

These reforms are likely to take much longer than anticipated, wasting precious resources that could otherwise be spent on actual police work. And even if they’re implemented swiftly, they are unlikely to directly improve the security situation.

Mexico is simply too vast and too diverse for centralised control of security policy to work. The federal government does not and will not have the resources to properly deal with most of its crime problems. A better approach would be to delegate responsibility to state and local governments, using federal policy to induce improvements in local policing. Security institutions require continuity and time to mature; small, incremental improvements to their operations are a better bet than wholesale redesign.

The security situation in Mexico remains dire, and it’s likely to remain that way for some time. Social policy can help reduce poverty and improve welfare, but it’s no substitute for intelligent, evidence-based crime prevention delivered by a well-trained local police. Removing the army from the streets without capable police officers to replace them could strengthen organised crime groups and make the situation worse.

Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis Posted at 6:16 PM  

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3 comments:

    1. AnonymousAugust 20, 2018 at 7:10 PMReply
    2. I wonder what cartel funded his election. Cds or cjng or maybe both. We will soon find out
    3. Col DanAugust 20, 2018 at 8:38 PMReply
    4. Chivis. Well done. The dreams of this man will not be supported by a public that has lost hope in the years of broken promises. Again, well written

Replies

  • ChivisAugust 20, 2018 at 9:26 PM
  • I republished from “The Conversation” which is an amazing source of outstanding articles. I could spend hours just going from one article to the other. Follow the hyperlink….as for this article. This represents the apprehension I had when writing my op-ed a day or so after the election. But I suppose hoping for a person that does no harm to the people would be a step forward.
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