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And death shall have no dominion

14 December 2008

The same (Mexico City) News that was fuminates about “populism” whenever the local PRD-controlled administration tries to impliment an innovation backed by the voters, comes out in favor of it, when the proposal is from their own favored conservative wing of the PRI.  In an already de-linked editorial in yesterday’s The News, Ken Edmunds complained that although polls indicated massive support for a death penalty in Mexico (as proposed by Coahuila Governor, Humberto Moreira, has supposedly massive support. Edmunds was complaining that the editorial writers and media commentators throughout the political spectrum have rejected the idea.

Even those that “philosophically” can fathom a death penalty reject it on the grounds that the Mexican judicial system is whimsical at best, or that death penalties have only marginal effects on crime rates.  Or — with a little bow to xenophobia, note that the only major nations that regularly execute convicts are the despised People’s Republic of China and the barbarians to the north … the United States of America.  And, imposing the death penalty is, constitutionally, a Federal matter… and for a State to change it’s criminal code would require a Constitutional amendment.

Other than this one wing of the PRI, and — surprisingly, the Green Party (which sometimes seems to be more interested in maintaining some kind of relevance with the voters than in being “green”) — there really isn’t much political support for reinstating the death penalty (which was outlawed officially in 1975, although the last judicial hanging was in 1961).

Diego Cevellos (IPS) writes:

… the government of conservative President Felipe Calderón, his National Action Party (PAN) and the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) have all made it clear that they are opposed to the proposed amendment.

The PRI, on the other hand, argues that the initiative merits debate because it represents the viewpoint of a majority of the population.

Moreira’s proposal to adopt the death penalty for the most egregious crimes and hardened criminals, which is supported by the Coahuila state legislature, where the PRI holds sway, is “opportunistic and aimed at political gain, and is sure to be voted down,” human rights analyst Fabián Sánchez told IPS.

Spokespersons for the Catholic Church and local human rights groups, and the representative of the local branch of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Alberto Brunori, expressed similar views.

“Putting the debate on the table is definitely negative,” said Brunori, who clarified, however, that “for the time being, there is no chance that capital punishment will be reestablished in Mexico.”

The PRD’s rejection is fairly simple to fathom… the Marxists (as in Groucho — “Whatever it is, I’m against it….”) — are going to oppose anything PRI supports, at least initially. When the PRI proposal (such as this one) has only shallow support and isn’t likely to ever come to fruition, it’s a no-brainer to oppose it. And, of course, the PRD include most of the intellectuals and what passes for a “civil rights lobby”. While there are “human rights advocates” in all the parties who think the idea — whether in Governor Moreira’s words, we’re talking about “shooting them, cutting their throats or hanging them, or something more ‘light’ like lethal injection” — is barbaric, it’s PAN’s rejection that is going to put the kibosh on the proposal.

PAN, like PRD, can be expected to initially reject PRI proposals, too.  But, there is a “human rights wing” within the conservative movement too.  It’s sometimes hard to explain to outsiders, but PAN’s religious conservative wing is Roman Catholic, not Evangelical. While Evangelicals and Roman Catholics agree about abortion, which creates more noise and light north of the border, less known in the United States is the Church’s anti-death penalty stance, stemming from the same “right to life” ethic.   Vicente Fox, who came from the “business wing” of his party, but was influenced by (and had to court) the “piety wing” received no criticism from the party, or from the opposition, when he pardoned the few prisoners on death row in the military prison (the Military Code still included hanging for a few offenses like fragging officers).

In some sense, the PRI backing for the death penalty (mostly in the north) is simply the old norteño anti-clericalism updated for the 21st century:  the Church opposes X, therefore PRI must support X.

Of course, given the mahem created by organized crime (or, perhaps, by the government drive against organized crime) and the popular revulsion against the violence could force parties to take “bold stands” that probably won’t really resolve anything, but give the perception of progress.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kevin permalink
    16 December 2008 2:51 am

    Im not really sure that the PRD is oppossed just to bother the PRI, the left wing ideology says the death penalty is wrong, doesnt it?

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