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In Mexico, the two candidates for the presidential election face the challenge of crime

Photo: Rodrigo Oropeza and Claudia Crux Agence France-Presse Candidate Xochitl Galvez and candidate Claudia Sheinbaum agree on the need to strengthen police and judicial institutions.

Jean Arce – Agence France-Presse in Mexico

Posted at 6:49 p.m.

  • Americas

Tackling the social roots of violence or relaunching the total war against the cartels: it is the clash of strategies between the two favorites in the presidential election in Mexico in the face of insecurity which tarnishes the image of the country.

Leading in the polls, the ruling left's candidate Claudia Sheinbaum proposes to continue the work of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: tackling the social causes (poverty, marginalization) of organized crime.

The results are mixed. With more than 166,000 homicides in five years, the current mandate is more violent than the previous two, star journalist Jorge Ramos noted on January 29 during the president's daily press conference.

The number of homicides fell by 20% between 2018 and 2023 (to 29,675), replied Mr. Lopez Obrador, affirming that he would not deviate from his strategy summarized by the formula “ hugs, not shootouts.” “We hold that peace is the fruit of justice. »

Mexico will have a rate of 23 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2023, according to Insight Crime, well above the Latin American average. In some states, cartels engage in acts of extreme violence.

Ms. Sheinbaum herself recently rejected the Catholic Church's “pessimistic assessment” of the country's security situation.

Ex-mayor of Mexico City, she prides herself on having reduced the number of homicides to less than two per day during her mandate at the head of the capital (2018-2023).

She congratulated herself at the end of 2023 on 60~/p>

“A Mexico Without Fear”

A security and organized crime expert for the Casede Analysis Center, Raul Benitez acknowledges that Ms. Sheinbaum has achieved results in Mexico.

If she is elected, she must do the same across a country of 129 million inhabitants and two million km2, with three levels of security forces and “a broken judicial chain “, according to Carlos Rodriguez Ulloa, security and intelligence consultant.

Both experts believe Mr. Lopez Obrador has failed. “It is not by attacking poverty that we fight delinquency, it is by attacking delinquents, with a correct strategy,” says Mr. Benitez.

Center-right candidate Xochitl Galvez is campaigning under the slogan “a Mexico without fear.” For her, “it’s an end to hugging delinquents! »

The two contenders agree on the need to strengthen police and judicial institutions, as well as coordination between authorities.

It also involves strengthening the National Guard, created by Mr. Lopez Obrador to replace the former federal police.

But the difference appears in their priorities. Ms. Sheinbaum wants new social programs for young people. Ms. Galvez wants to go after the most wanted criminals. The opposition candidate also wants to build a prison for the most dangerous delinquents and launch the army against the big mafias.

In Tijuana, a border city with the United States, the homicide rate is close to 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Enedina Galvez, one of the thousands of cross-border workers, raises the question of the decriminalization of drugs, a blind spot in the campaign.

“If criminal acts are linked to the use of drugs, we should regularize their consumption,” says this 34-year-old dual national.

Decriminalization would be “a true Copernican revolution”, believes political scientist Gaspard Estrada.

The security problem in Mexico is also linked “to the fragmentation of police forces, between municipal, state and federal police,” continues the Latin America specialist at Sciences po Paris.

Insecurity is the “most urgent” issue for 41% of Mexicans, according to a Financiero survey. According to Carlos Rodriguez, Mexicans are “saturated and resigned” to the violence.

Ms. Sheinbaum leads the voting intentions with 51%, far ahead of Ms. Galvez (34%).

On June 2, almost 100 million voters are called to the polls also to renew the Parliament and the Senate, with also local elections in several of the 32 states including nine governorship positions at stake.

Violence does not spare the campaign: 15 candidates for local mandates have been assassinated since October, according to the government (23 according to Integralia consultants).

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116