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Could A Colombia-Style Peace Process Work In Mexico?

New President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is calling for a paradigm shift in Mexico's war on hyper-violent drug cartels. Colombia's peace deal with the FARC may serve as a model.

Drugs in Mexico
Drugs in Mexico
Luis Rubio

-Analysis-

MEXICO CITY There is an immense temptation in Mexico to follow Colombia's path toward peace. The process there has not yet concluded. Nor does it enjoy universal backing. And yet, the Colombian experience is exemplary for its depth and solidity, both conceptually and in terms of the actual steps being taken. It is seeking not only to resolve the continent's most longstanding violent conflict, but to incorporate violent elements back into ordinary, day-to-day life.

I imagine this is what inspired the new governing team in Meixico to also consider a process of negotiation, pacification and transitional justice — the very same terms used for Colombia's negotiation process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colmbia (FARC) guerrillas — although, in our case, this would mean cutting deals with organized crime.

The problem is that Colombia's circumstances are quite different to those of Mexico. In Colombia, there were two essential factors that made the peace process possible. First, over the course of three decades a succession of governments built up institutional capacities that fortified government, especially in its ability to act. They created a professional police corps and an independent judiciary that boosted the state's ability to negotiate and to deal with the results of any talks. Without the presence of a real state, the negotiations, led by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), could not have happened.

These rights will protect the peace process in the long term

Second, the source of violence in Colombia was not drug trafficking, although that was a major component, but a guerrilla army that, over the course of 50 years, had settled into and controlled large swathes of the country from which it operated, carried out abductions, and killed. A guerrilla force is not the same as a criminal organization, despite the overlap in Colombia's case. The central issue in the Colombian talks was the existence of an alternative political project, and so the talks were not with criminals but a political entity — even though the FARC depended on drugs trafficking for revenue.

In contrast, our institutions in Mexico are weak, and there are no professional policemen to assure security or even administer the kind of Colombian-style peace process that is now being so pompously proposed. We do not have the judicial institutions, either in the form of a state prosecution service or a judicial branch, enabling us to speak of justice here in any sense of the word.

No less important is the fact that the Colombian government's initiative was highly ambitious, focused on citizens and especially victims, and aimed at creating a democratic political project firmly anchored in civil rights. These rights will protect the peace process in the long term and eliminate the resentments and hatred the conflict fomented over decades. In Mexico, the real challenge is more basic: to build the institutions Colombia could already count on, and to strengthen the democratic system as a whole.

Mexico, government, drug cartel, corruption, politics

The president-elect of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, speaks to protestors at the Monument to the Revolution: —Photo: Eneas De Troya

Equally important is the fact that in Mexico, the putative negotiators on the other side are not politicians with a nation-building project (unlike the next government), but plain criminals. They are not guerrillas and their plans are not political. There may be a bit of this in the "self-defense" militias of Guerrero or the Zapatistas of Chiapas, but these are not the people behind the systematic threats and extortion against businesses in cities like Guanajuato or parts of Mexico City, or the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez. There is a lot to learn from the Colombian process but this learning clearly is absent among those in our country touting a pacification process or transitional justice for criminals.

Changing the focus is not just valid but necessary.

Pacification is a praiseworthy, necessary objective, but no substitute for a government's ability to do essential duties, namely govern and transmit certainty and trust to its citizens. After two six-year presidencies that have failed in their objectives to crush crime, changing the focus is not just valid but necessary, but only on the basis of a correct diagnosis of the nature of the problem.

The first step toward a solution must be to define the causes of violent crime in Mexico. Ultimately, while the solution might include negotiations and amnesties, its essence cannot revolve around the other side organized crime but our side, the government. At the end of the day, it is the weakness of the state that has allowed the expansion and proliferation of crime.

There are many possible, security-building models taking either districts or states of the federal republic as the primary or fundamental pillars of national security. But the diagnosis must come first, to ensure proper allocation of resources and create an effective and accountable security system. Yet the project one hears about in public debates shows one of our deep-seated tendencies: to break the eggs first, then look for a frying pan. There must be a better way.

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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