Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto pledged to eliminate gang violence under his administration by 2018. And he has a lot of work to do.
Mexico for the year of 2017 has registered its highest murder total since modern records began in 1997, according to official data. A total of 23,101 murder investigations were opened in the first 11 months of this year, surpassing the 22,409 registered in the whole of 2011.
In December 2012, Pena Nieto took office and pledged to tame the violence that bloomed under his predecessor, former President Felipe Calderon. Pena Nieto’s administration reduced the murder tally during the first two years of his term, but since then it has risen exponentially.
According to World Bank’s online database, Brazil and Colombia both had a murder rate of 27 per 100,000 for 2015, the last year for which data are available. Venezuela 57, Honduras 64 and El Salvador 109 in 2015. Comparatively, the U.S. rate was 5 per 100,000.
Pena Nieto’s failure to halt the murder rate has damaged his credibility and hurt his centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He faces an uphill struggle to hold onto power in the July 2018 presidential election, and Mexican law prevents Pena Nieto from running again.
The current front-runner in the race, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is promoting the vague idea of giving amnesty with criminal gangs to reduce the violence.
“There can be dialogue with everyone. There needs to be dialogue and there needs to be a push to end the war and guarantee peace. Things can’t go on as before,” Mexican newspaper Reforma quoted Lopez Obrador saying at a campaign stop in Hidalgo Saturday.
Lopez Obrador also said he would get rid of Mexico’s intelligence agency CISEN if he won the July election. “We’re not going to monitor anybody, we’re not going to spy, we’re not going to listen to phone calls, or hack phones to get files and photos,” he said, further commenting that it is an “unnecessary expense.”
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