In order for dangerous drugs not not reach your children President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa (FCH) launched a war against drug traffickers three years ago. Since then, we Mexicans have become convinced that the war we need is another one: a war against crime for those who rob us, who kidnap us, who extort us and who kills us.
The President must have heard something or read our consensus, because he has changed his rhetoric since September of this year, he no longer refers to the "war on drugs" but a "war against crime" and he has called for "this is a struggle to be taken by the entire society."
At the same time, semantics aside, the response of his war continue to be identical to the ones in the past; it is a response against the drug kingpins but not a response against the crime that deprives us of our heritage, our freedom and of our very own life.
That is why the president's war continues to be his war.
What is the displacement between the president and the society? What stands in the way between him and us when the public debate becomes a dialogue of the deaf?
Simple: reality intervenes.
A reality that is best understood when it is decrypted. These are the numbers from the war that the president is claiming he is winning, in his own words: "In three and a half years we have seized drugs with a value equivalent to 10 billion dollars ... And in three years and a half 125 drugpins and lieutenants have fallen ... and 5,108 sicarios have been either arrested or killed."
In other words, these are the numbers of the war that the Mexican people have been subjected to. In three and a half years the rates of crime directed against the citizens of Mexico under the government of Calderón have remained almost stable, reaching between 1.4 and 1.6 million crimes. Almost stable: after three and half years of war, of the 28,000 people killed and 10 billion dollars spent on his war, the crimes against the citizens have fallen a mere 1.5%.
For that reason, it's a sad fact that the president's war continues to be his war and not ours.
Is it not the same criminals who transport and sell the drug and those who rob us, extort us and kidnap us citizens? Reality has shown that they are not.
To use a metaphor used frequently by the experts: the cartels are the big whales of the ocean that illegally surround our society, the little fish that follow circling each whale are the groups of people who commit the crimes against the citizens. While the whales are too busy with the lucrative business of transporting drugs into the United States, sometimes they use the small fishes but not all the time, they just let them do their petty crimes. But in more than one occasion the bosses have offered the federal government to get rid of them in exchange for a truce.
Remember the deals that the government made in 2009 with "La Tuta," then leader of " La Familia" in Michoacan or Arturo Beltran Leyva in Morelos, or the narco messages that appeared in some of the victims that were executed "for being thieves and kidnappers" in Mexico City. How the federal government responded to the offer of the capos was "we don't negotiate" in a brave tone and "we are not afraid" in an angry tone.
And because we do fear, the president's war remains his war.
The fact that the drug war is really only being waged by the military is well-known by all. Our police have been infiltrated by crime. There has not been one kidnapping case where "at least one police officer is not an accomplice" (Isabel Wallace), and it is estimated that "one out of two police officers are colluding with crime" (Alejandro Gertz Manero).
Then the president launches the full force of the military against the narco, of which he is obsessed with, and leaves us citizens in the hands of these cops which even he doesn't trust.
The truth is that people after being robbed, extorted or kidnapped have no one to turn to. The though of reporting the crime to the police is sort of macabre joke. We know that the reporting a crime has little chance of success when a detention is estimated to be at only 7% and less chance of a sentence which is estimated to be only at 2%.
On the other hand we know that the reporting of crime has the opportunity to become a new robbery, thanks to the information we provide to the police. That is why surveys estimate that 80% of crimes go unreported.
And there is the president with his epic war of major confrontations between generals and drug lords and here we are stranded in a wasteland of lawless with a double enemy, the "minor" criminal thugs (little fish) and terrible corrupt police.
If President Calderón wants his war to be our war, he needs to do more than to change the meaning of his rhetoric.
He must indeed change the target of the war: to focus on the safety of citizens as a new target.
An objective that has a criteria that defines success as the actual reduction of crimes against individuals and not the amount of drug seized or the number of capos or sicarios that have fallen. And to change the target he would have to change his response.
For example he must begin to radically clean the police forces, which perhaps can only be achieved for now by replenishing the police with soldiers, until a new generation of officers can be trained and become operational.
For example, multiply by 20 the efficiency in which the reporting of a crime becomes an apprehension of the criminal and results in a just sentence.
As such it will be a war against impunity and the safety of every citizen, Mr. president that would be another war.
And, yes, then and only then, it would be our war.