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In Washington there will be screams

21 August 2008

I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet, but there may be a huge change coming on the crime/justice/security front.

Somewhat true to form (and ghoulishly), Televisa and PAN political spokesmen seized on the recent kidnappping and murder of a milionaire’s teen-aged son to foment demonstrations and suggest that insecurity and kidnapping are somehow more serious a problem in Mexico City (run by the PRD) than in the rest of the country.  And — somewhat true to form — the Mexico City administration is turning the tables.

Secretario de Gobernacion (Home Secretary in Britian, Canada, etc., Homeland Security Director in the United States) Juan Camilo Moureño and Jefe de Gobierno (Mayor, Governor of the Federal District) Marcelo Ebrard have been doing the usual political dance around a “National Security Pact”. Moureño originally met with his own party’s political leaders before finally agreeing to meet with Ebrard, who will be presenting a ten-point security plan:

Not all are specific “law enforcement” type recommendations. Tracking cell phone use (and cutting off cell phone signals in prisons), a new Federal High-Security Prison ( unremarkable, until you realize that dangerous prisoners being sent to the Capital for trial are being held in the District’s jail — and the district is blamed when they escape — which they seem to regularly do), video cameras on Federal highways, dedicated radio frequencies for law enforcement, intelligence sharing between local and Federal prosecutors, would pass muster with the conservatives with no problem.

Creating a new intelligence unit to investigate financial crimes is not going to sit easily with some, but there is no way a politician could come out in favor of money laundering. On-going evaluations of criminal justice organizations and citizen review boards are the types of things Ebrard (who was Mexico City’s police chief, but comes from a background in public administration) has been experimenting with locally, and show promise nationally.

Serious attention to financial crimes and gun-running are probably of more immediate impact outside the Capital, but the “radical” and — in the long run — probably most effective anti-crime weapon is the agenda item dealing with economic stimulus for high-crime areas.

And, not on the agenda, but probably in the long term the one thing that will destroy the at least the domestic narcotics market: the PRD will introduce legislation to decriminalize all drugs.

I can hear the screams in Washington now.

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