How Mexico’s Next President Can Cut Murders Fast

InSight Crime, Alejandro Hope, 7/11/12

Enrique Peña Nieto, the winner of the July 1 elections, has set as his objective to reduce violence “quickly.”It’s a laudable intention, but up to now he hasn’t told us how he plans to do it. The ideas that he has presented will take effect in the medium term, if at all…I doubt very much that Mexican voters have the patience to wait for the culmination of these processes. After a few massacres, Calderon’s war will become Peña Nieto’s war: after the honeymoon, the dead, the kidnapped, and the extorted will start to build up on his account…I don’t know what Peña Nieto’s team is thinking about the specifics, but here are a few ideas:

– Establish an anti-massacre policy, based on principles of focused deterrence. This can be reduced to a) establishing an order of priority in the response of the state to various types of violent crime; b) communicating this order of priority to criminal groups, and c) attacking through all available legal means the first criminal group that commits the prioritized acts (see more details here, here, and here).

– Creating safe zones in highly violent municipalities. Using the model of the PRONAF zone in Ciudad Juarez, authorities could establish areas free of homicide, kidnapping, and extortion in various places (Monterrey, Torreon, Veracruz, etc.). This implies the placement of various checkpoints, designating a special group for intelligence work, installing security cameras, establishing a mechanism for businesses and residents to report crimes, etc. These safe areas could be expanded gradually.

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