btn_subscribe-top
btn_give-a-gift
btn_login
btn_signup
btn_rss

Blog

Mexico’s President-elect Hits the Ground Running

November 30, 2012

by Juan Manuel Henao

In the lead-up to tomorrow’s inauguration, Enrique Peña Nieto and his Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) have crafted a number of legislative proposals they hope will set the tone for his six years in Mexico’s highest office.  Three key initiatives are now pending debate before the lower chamber.

First is an initiative to fold the nation’s Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (Public Security Secretariat—SSP) into the interior ministry.  Second is a move to strengthen the nation’s Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información(Federal Institute for Access to Public Information—IFAI).  And third is an initiative to create a national anti-corruption commission.

Comment on this post

According to Peña Nieto’s transition team, national security and public safety need higher central authority.  Analysts note that under Presidents Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), SSP ran roughshod over the government, many times trampling over the attorney general and ignoring human and procedural rights.  Examples often cited are the televised capture of French kidnapper Florence Cassez, which caused a deluge of human rights complains against the SSP and strained Mexico’s relationship with France, and the unexplained September shooting of two U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agents outside Mexico City by Mexican Federal Police.

Not all failed at the SSP, however.  Federal Police numbers increased to 36,000, up from 6,000 in 2006—including more recruits with university degrees and criminal investigation backgrounds.  Plataforma Mexico, the nation’s go-to criminal database that connects more than 900 municipal, state and federal agencies to more than 500 million criminal leads and records, was also a positive step in the fight against organized crime.  Not least of all, SSP was also responsible for the capture of more than 3,000 organized crime figures and freed close to 2,000 kidnap victims.            

Still, the SSP operated at the leisure of the president, using organized crime as a pretense for answering only to the head of state.  In the process, mistakes were made, agents compromised, ranks infiltrated—and Congress, criminal procedure, human rights, and the Supreme Court were ignored.  The president-elect wants to rewrite Mexico’s model for fighting crime and is returning to the PRI model for police work.   

The second and third pieces of legislation seek to strengthen the IFAI and to create a national anti-corruption commission.  Since 2000, mayors and governors have used newly-acquired powers to dig Mexico’s city and state finances further into the red.  Coahuila’s more than 300 percent rise in state debt in recent years is a prime example, as are Michoacán and Nuevo León’s 200 percent debt increases.  According to the Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexican Institute for CompetitivenessIMCO), two of every three pesos used by state administrators went for staff salaries, while only one was invested in state programs.  The trend is unsustainable. 

Currently, legal cases have been filed by newly-sworn-in mayors against ex-mayors from the states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Queretaro.  Many more are expected.  In the case of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, Mayor Ramón Guerrero says debt rose from $30 million to $300 million in recent years.  He is suing former mayor Francisco González for illicit use of public funds, fraud and abuse of power.  

These states—and many more cities and municipalities—are unable to meet payroll, let alone fund government programs.  

Proposed legislation will force state and municipal entities to put on display administrative and operational costs, as well as proposed borrowing schemes, all in an effort to discourage fraudulent use of public finances which often pad individuals and pump campaign coffers.          

The proposed anti-corruption commission will have legal autonomy with seven Senate-approved commissioners who serve seven-year terms.  Included are the powers to investigate and sanction public officials, private companies and individuals who misuse public funds.

Peña Nieto’s team has taken the time—and political effort—to think big about Mexico’s technical and tactical challenges.  Corruption and organized crime are obviously on top of the list.  Though it is safe to say change is difficult and painful, we can only hope these recalibrations help bring the type of change Peña Nieto and the PRI promised.       

*Juan Manuel Henao is a consultant based in Mexico City and former Mexico Country Director for the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington DC-based not-for-profit democracy promotion organization.

Tags: Enrique Peña Nieto, Partido Revolucionario Institucional

To speak with an expert on this topic, please contact the communications office at: communications@as-coa.org or (212) 277-8384.
blog comments powered by Disqus

 
 

Americas Quarterly's Cuba Coverage

Check in with AQ for updates on U.S.-Cuba normalization.

 

Connect with AQ


Twitter YouTube Itunes App Store

 

Most Popular

MOST POPULAR ON AQ ONLINE

  • Most Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 day
  • 1 week
  • 1 month
  • 1 year

AQ and Efecto Naím: NTN24 Partnership

June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.

 

AQ BLOGGERS REPORT FROM

Atlanta, GA
   Sabrina Karim
 
Bogotá, Colombia
   Jenny Manrique
 
Caracas, Venezuela
   Paula Ramón
 
Guatemala City, Guatemala
   Nic Wirtz
 
Mexico City, Mexico
   Juan Manuel Henao
 
Monterrey, Mexico
   Arjan Shahani
 
Montreal, Canada
   John Parisella
 
New York, NY
   Adam Frankel
   Christopher Sabatini
 
Ottawa, Canada
   Huguette Young
 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
   Stephen Kurczy
 
Salvador, Brazil
   Paulo Rogério
  
San Salvador, El Salvador
   Julio Rank Wright
  Carlos Ponce
 
Santiago, Chile
   Joseph Hinchliffe
 
Washington, DC
  Eric Farnsworth
  Liz Harper
  Christian Gómez, Jr.
  Christine Gomes
  Kezia McKeague
  Johanna Mendelson Forman