Violence, tension, police corruption and brutality do not stop in Mexico. In a New York Times article published last Tuesday by Steve Fisher and Maria Abi-Habib titled “Mexico City Declared Police Abuse Over. Reports of Misconduct Kept Rising,” the two authors reported one of the many police brutality stories in Mexico. Juan Carlos García Cortés was running chores in Mexico City on his motorcycle when a taxi stopped in front of him, and two men jumped out. They pushed him backwards, blinded him with a jacket, and began hitting him. Mr. García’s kidnappers weren’t street-level delinquents – they were members of Mexico City’s recently created selected police force tasked with fighting kidnapping and extortion. After hitting Mr. García, the officers threatened to kill him if he didn’t pay them 50,000 pesos, about $2,500. Mr. García’s case is unfortunately not isolated, and is instead, of the many examples of police corruption, violence and brutality in the country.
In June 2020, Mexico City’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, whose main political priority was eliminating the alarming police corruption in the country, stated in a news conference that “all of those practices involving torture, illegality, et cetera, have been eliminated.” However, Mr.García’s kidnapping and beating, and many other situations like it, occurred in 2022. Many other interviews with current and former police officers highlight how the newest task force has not helped to eliminate police corruption, and it has instead worsened since Sheinbaum took office. Many have commented on the continued excessive use of violence by police officers, yet the situation appears unchanged. José Miguel Vivanco, America’s director at Human Rights Watch, stated in a recent report that “Mexico’s police forces are infamous for their corruption, their use of torture and violence, and their ties to organized crime.”
Many have suffered the consequences of unregulated police brutality, and it is essential to do something about it, principally because police barbarity has not led to the reduction of crime. It is vital to prevent the lack of clarity and enforcement of rules controlling the use of force. Although a National Law was passed in 2019 to fight police violence, local authorities did not pay much attention to the actual implementation of said law. It is necessary to enforce an anti-violence law with protocols and concrete guidelines; it is also essential to apply reforms to fight the Mexican officers’ institutional abandonment. Many Mexican officers have never received training on how to imprison a suspect, carry out an interview, maintain a crime scene, operate their weapons, or attend to victims. Said reforms will prevent such a massive institutional abandonment, fighting one of the principal causes of police brutality.
As Paul Chevigny formulated in his classic work “Edge of the Knife: Police Violence in the Americas,” the principal reason for Mexican police criminality is the robust political lawlessness in the country. Corruption in Mexico originated in colonial times when people learned how to manipulate their local political authorities with violence. After the country’s independence, corruption was not only used as a means of improvement but also as a means to acquire goods and benefits. Since then, corruption between police forces has never been fought effectively. A 2012 survey reported that over 92% of crimes go unreported or uninvestigated, leading to thousands of cases similar to Mr.García’s in 2022.
Police corruption and brutality have been a problem in Mexico for a long time, and it is essential to fight it effectively. The government must implement education reforms that might prevent institutional abandonment and help better train police officers who are prepared to work in the field. It is also essential to enforce an anti-violence law with protocols and concrete guidelines to stop uncontrolled police violence. Applying these kinds of reforms and rules will not just help fight corruption and violence between police forces, but it will also lead to the creation of trust between Mexican authorities and citizens, offering a new road to peace.
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