Last week President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a public security strategy to “rescue” Michoacán, a troubled Western state controlled by the Knights Templar, a criminal organization specializing in methamphetamine trafficking, extortion, and illegal iron ore mining. The plan, “For Michoacán, together we can do it,” is a $3.5 billion effort laying out 250 concrete actions to be implemented in 2014, and is based on five pillars: local economy and employment, education and culture for prosperity, modern infrastructure and decent housing, health and social security, and social development and sustainability.
By comparing this plan to the 2010 federal strategy to rescue Ciudad Juárez, Todos Somos Juárez (We are all Juárez), and questioning where the Michoacán plan fits in with the feeble National Program for Social Prevention of Violence and Delinquency (PNPSVD), I seriously doubt the viability of this federal plan. The social and cultural prevention approach is necessary, but Michoacán lacks a solid civil society to oversee the successful channeling of the $3.5 billion into the designated areas. The plan lacks institutional reform to counter impunity and advance criminal investigations.
I conclude by insisting on additions to the social and cultural strategies, such as the embracing of comprehensive diagnostics, clear time tables, and a detailed proposal of judicial, transparency, and penal reform, as well as funds (something vague of this sort was mentioned last week in Morelia) toward autonomous criminology and research centers that investigate violence and criminal behavior. A factor contributing to the security nightmare is the lack of public information –the ability to know what happened and why. Only through understanding behavior can we create tangible solutions. Moreover, Mexico will never alleviate the crisis without being able to determine, and release to the public, the victims’ and victimizers’ names and backgrounds. Reconciliation is a word, regrettably, lacking from public discourse.