I get it that the rest of you don’t share my fascination with the scandalous events down Mexico way. I didn’t care either until Obama tried to describe that dangerously lawless land as some sort of sun-soaked Swiss canton, and dismissed media reports of cartel killings and corruption as “sensational headlines”.
I said dangerous and I mean dangerous. Not just Mexico, but Obama too.
What do the September disappearance of 43 university students from the custody of local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and new allegations of federal corruption in the awarding of public infrastructure contracts have in common? Answer: They both show that Mexico still has a huge problem enforcing the rule of law.
Until now the president has been able to ignore Mexico’s legendary lawlessness. He has been riding an international wave of excitement around the opening of the energy sector, with few questions asked. But unless he wants to make common cause with the hard left—which thinks it has him on the ropes because of the missing students—he needs to admit his mistakes, purge his cabinet and make the rule of law job No. 1.
The rule of law? In Mexico? It would be easier to wrap my head around string theory than to comprehend such a reality.
To show that Mexico is committed to ending impunity and to improving public security, the president should use his influence to push for the full implementation of the new criminal code mandating that all federal and state judicial systems move, by 2016, to the oral accusatorial system, away from Mexico’s traditional written, inquisitional system.
Monterrey lawyer Ernesto Canales founded the civic group Renace (Spanish for “rebirth”) in 1994 to work for this reform in his home state of Nuevo León. In an interview in New York in the spring he told me that the change will “mean an increase in substance over formality in public trials and an increase in transparency. It will also raise the odds that judges actually know what’s going on in their courtrooms.”
Sounds important. Yet congressional approval of the federal regulations necessary to complete the reform is moving at a glacial pace, and the judiciary is in no hurry to comply. Many of the 32 states have yet to make the transition.
Everyone knows why: The oral system will challenge the traditional use of the criminal-justice system as a profit center for the state. In that tradition the accused can either pay or do time. Culpability is beside the point, and there is no need for competitive police salaries, forensics or transparent protocols to ensure accountability and communication among municipal, state and federal authorities.
Simply put, everything in Mexican justice (again with the incomprehensible concepts!) is available for purchase, from a speeding ticket to charges of multi-billion dollar international drug smuggling.
And all Obama saw fit to mention was Frida Kahlo and Octavio Paz.
Mexico may be dangerous, but is anything more dangerous than a “raging narcissist” (HT Pat Caddell) who believes anything he says, simply because he’s the one saying it?
Understand me: it’s not about Mexico; it’s about Obama. And it’s bad news.