The resurgence of insecurity as a key issue within the national media, the beginning of the campaign towards the 2015 midterm elections, the paralyzing economic situation, the protests over the Ayotzinapa case as well as the conflict in Guerrero have clouded the Mexican social and political environment. For the administration of President Enrique Peña, this reality blow comes at a terrible timing. Although the government’s enthusiasm for the procurement of the so-called structural reforms was never shared by the majority of the population, the current environment has exacerbated a feeling of disdain and criticism towards the federal government, which has overshadowed the official triumphalism of just a few weeks ago. In that way, Peña is facing the most complex challenge within his first twenty four months in government, especially when considering that his administration favored image and communication as the cornerstones of its success. How was the federal authority responded to this unrest?
As an answer to the disappearances in Ayotzinapa and the violent events occurred at Iguala, the federal authorities have chosen two paths. The first one consists on deploying the institutions of security and justice procurement in order to find the students as well as the local authorities that have been singled out as responsible for the tragedy. This implies the typical reaction of focusing the energy on extinguishing a circumstantial fire without having a strategy that will address the structural problems of violence, abuse of power, corruption, lawlessness and other calamities behind the crisis in Guerrero. Not even the recent apprehension of the so-called “Iguala imperial couple” – former Mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda – or the potential finding of the missing student should be enough to silence the voices that want a true solution for the way in which the political system operates in Mexico.
The second path was a call for the political forces and civil organizations to implement changes that will prevent similar cases from happening once again. It is valid and even desirable, that a circumstance will trigger changes, but the latter should not only to step out of the problem but change the whole structure. Without having an official label and without knowing when and under which terms it would be settled, the alleged pact summoned by President Peña on November 3rd will hardly generate any profound changes if the reactive and non-proactive pattern of past “national agreements” is repeated. On the contrary, the risk of repeating failed patterns of the past may derive into an instrument for diluting responsibilities and sharing the cost of failure from actions taken by authorities.
Implementing the rule of law cannot be done out of the blue since it is not something ethereal to be agreed upon; it is a series of guarantees and procedures that are built, preserved and strengthened through well-established institutions that have operators – public prosecutors, judges, policemen – which are capable and responsible. On that regard, Mexico has a Constitutional reform since 2008 that seeks to strengthen the rule of law and aims to implement an efficient, trustworthy and transparent system for justice procurement before June 8th, 2016. However, although important amounts of human and financial resources have been allocated towards this reform, it is not perceived as a top public policy for the Executive Power and there is a risk of ending old practices with new names.
In order to strengthen the Mexican justice system, agreements and statements are not the solution; the ideal goal would be to establish conditions and parameters within the security and justice institutions. The political rhetoric should not be confused with political willingness. The latter is what Mexico is missing. On the other hand, the population that feels betrayed and discouraged by the country’s circumstances should assume a permanent commitment with the rule of law and demand institutions that will praise and respect individual guarantees as their flagship. Any other way, and the vicious cycle of corruption will never break apart.