La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Violence along the border

Violence along the border has dominated the headlines this week. La Jornada has had over 20 news articles about the violence and government responses (or lack of responses) over the last three days alone. I can't even begin to link to all the stories. But, I can summarize the main points.

First, the flurry of news coverage seems to have begun with the assassination of several (I mean seven or eight) people (public officials, bystanders, police, narcos) over the weekend. Gangland style. (I had the misfortune of accidently clicking on one of the stories that came with photos.) And it has only gotten worse throughout the week. There were 11 assassinations just yesterday in border states. Yesterday they reported 7 from the day before. The U.S. DEA attributes the violence to a war between cartels. Some of the deaths are due to street gun battles between police and narcos that leave univolved citizens dead or wounded.

What do the politicians do in response? Fox blames the Congress for not passng his judicial reform, and Congress blames Fox for his lack of leadership.

The other big story about violence on the border relates to the femicidios in the sister city of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez.

For years, hundreds of women have been killed and left in the desert. The last two women to be found brings the total to 19 so far for the year, which is more than last year at this time. (One of the two was a murder suicide.) Many young single women move to Ciudad Juarez looking for work in the border factories.

For a while, the U.S. FBI was assisting in the investigation. Some believe that the murders are the result of one or more serial killers or copycats. Some think it began with a cult of wealthy Mexicans who raped, killed, or hunted their servant women for sport. Others think that some are instances where husbands take advantage of the high murder rate to get rid of their wives. Apparently, some men use the murders to threaten their own wives.

In response to the recent public outcry, there will be another special investigation by the attorney general's office. Fox has sent a new initiative to Congress. Secretary of State Creel is trying to promote the initiative. The Senate claims the President's initiative will do little to solve the problem. And in the Chamber of Deputies, they criticized the President's inability to stop the violence. ONGs, experts, and the Human Rights Commission all criticized Fox's plan.

So what is Fox's plan. One main part of his judicial reform calls for oral arguments in front of judges to expedite the trying of cases. Now, everything is done with piles and piles of papers, that all must be read by the judges. The criticism from others is that speeding up court cases will not help reduce violence if the penalties are not reformed (increased) and if the government cannot catch the killers.

posted by Michelle @ 10:12 AM,


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