“I feel tired”. A reckless statement voiced by Mexico’s Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam, at the end of his press conference on Friday November 7th created a major upset in social networks and some media that bashed the aforementioned public officer for several days. The context of the slow and uncertain investigations regarding the Ayotzinapa case has been an utter nightmare for the federal government during the last few weeks. Regardless of Murillo’s humbug – which is one of several anecdotes within the country’s political history – such expression goes beyond the weariness of a public officer. The absence of justice procurement apparatus in Mexico is showcased in a daily basis in its lack of credibility, trust and legitimacy. Although PGR’s poor management of the Iguala crimes has transformed into a turning point against voices within the Peña administration that hailed the image of political success and economic wealth, it is important to point out that justice procurement in the country has been under a crisis for several decades. In fact, it is an ancient system that has never been modernized.
The outcome of the investigations regarding the forced disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students has a clear and implicit message: although all the apparatus of federal justice procurement was responsible for the case, results have been slow and unsatisfactory. As if this was not enough, the large allocation of resources that was spent in the last administration for security and justice procurement (mainly at federal level, but with increased budgets for states that have not addressed such issues) was not able to generate technical, structural and human capital capabilities that tackled the country’s difficult matters. As an example to illustrate this point, it should be worth noting how the government had to call upon Argentinian experts as well as Austrian laboratories (plus some additional specialists) in order to support a research that, in any given situation, has been poorly handled. The conclusion for the general population is quite bleak: what are the chances of solving kidnappings, murders or robberies that lack media attention? Mexicans have always believed that authorities “can but do want to” assume its responsibilities; perhaps it is time to face the fact that they cannot manage to do it even if they wanted to.
With that being said, although Attorney General Murillo has been the main target for citizens’ criticism, the issue cannot only be attributed to the omissions and faults committed by the head of an institution. However obvious it may sound, we must remember that security is not the same as justice, even when they are wrongly understood as synonyms. Security is a matter subject to crime prevention through criminal policies, and while this task fails to address the causes of violence in the country, there will still be justice procurement institutions that will be exceeded, regardless of who commands them. Therefore, the problem is not limited to one individual, but to a whole system. Citizens’ demands should focus not only on enhancing justice procurement, but also on demanding the structural strengthening of all government institutions with some sort of impact on the observance of the rule of law. It may appear trivial now, but it should start by strengthening institutions within Guerrero. Otherwise, the same failed formula will be repeated once again: replacing incompetent local authorities for incompetent federal authorities. Meanwhile the local police and judicial capacity is not solved, the problem will remain.
It is likely that the government will try to shelve the issue as soon as possible. The damage made to the image of Mexico – which the federal government has so hard tried to cleanse – has been disastrous. However, considering the idea that this is a structural problem, nothing would be more misleading than to pretend that the matter will come to an end once we know the missing students’ whereabouts and the apprehension of the Abarca marriage is made. The size of the crime and the gruesome discoveries that ensued should not become an evanescent inflection point that will mean little to nothing over the course of the next weeks. It is urgent that, for the first time, an entire political-criminal network is dismantled and punished, not just the one behind Guerrero’s tragic situation but also the ones chronically trampling the rule of law in a range that includes the highest government stages as well as the lowest society levels. ¿Will the government capitalize this historic opportunity?