After a speech given by Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at a forum hosted by The Economist (UK), Miguel Osorio Chong, Peña's Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB), or interior minister spent time in the press last week clarifying Pena's remarks.
|SEGOB Osorio Chong|
According to a news report posted on the website of Yancuic.com, president Peña told the forum that a reduction of violence has occurred in Mexico since the end of 2012, but, according to a news account Peña gave no details.
According to the news account, president Peña used the term appreciably with regard to the drop in violent crime in Mexico, and even when asked about what metric could used to show any decline in violence, Peña did not answer.
One criticism from the publisher of The Economist news weekly, unidentified in the article, was that when president Peña spoke of the reduction of crime he failed to make note of events in Michoacan, easily one of the most violent states in Mexico, and one which potentially threatens Pena's security strategy.
Another problem with president Peña's claims is that, according to the news account, if the drop in homicides in Mexico state only are taken into account, then Peña told the truth. Which means that Peña likely lied to the forum in his claims.
|President Peña Nieto|
According to the data supplied by The Economist, officials in Mexico state had changed the methodology of reporting statistics for violent crime, which showed a steep drop the year Peña's term as governor ended in 2011. Now, two years later, Peña is applying apparently similar methodology by eliminating drug related deaths from statistical compilations. That statistical trick has indicated a dramatic reduction in violent crime starting in August -- when the new method went into place -- by 20 percent.
Osorio Chong responded to critics the next morning by claiming Peña's anti crime strategy deals with people not statistics. Osorio Chong before a senate committee last week combatively also denied a conspiracy of silence existed between the federal and state governments in reporting violent crime in Mexico.
That statement by Osorio Chong may well be the epitaph of transparency laws in place since 2005 under the Vicente Fox presidential administration.
Having pushed an across the board income tax increases as well as levies on other items including sugary drinks, Peña is now pushing to eliminate transparency reforms dealing with security policy in place since 2005.
An editorial which appeared earlier in the week in El Siglo de Durango news daily written by Jorge Perez Arellano said that the new national expenditure law, approved in the Chamber of Deputies and now being considered by the Mexican senate, was passed without Article 9 or Article 15, two 2005 reforms which forced state and municipal governments to report certain classes of spending back to the federal government.
The Presupuesto de Egresos 2014, or Expenditure Act of 2014 is set for a vote November 16th in the Senate when it is expected to pass, then go to the plenary session for final approval.
State and municipal governments in Mexico are severely restricted in how much of their own revenue they can raise and spend. The Mexican federal government provides the lion's share of money for state and local police corporations. Under the current law any monies provided by the federal government for security not spent 90 days after the funds are originally transferred, must be reported and any use of those funds by state of municipal entities must be publicly available for anyone to see.
Another reform expected to be removed from 2014 spending program is the requirement that state and municipal public servants must report to the Chamber of Deputies and to the national auditor's office any complaints against those officials.
For the average Mexican citizen, the reform meant that any complaints pressed against an errant officials would be sent to the Chamber of Deputies and to the auditor. With the new reform, now the average Mexican citizen will be forced to go to Mexico City to press complaints since municipal and state officials will no longer be required to send them on to the federal government.
According to Perez Arellano, the gutting of the reforms will allow public servants to grant themselves and their subordinates salary increases, presumably without any legislative oversight.
According to a separate report in El Diario de Chihuahua news daily, Veracruz Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) deputy Juan Bueno Torio warned that the elimination of the reforms will give state and local officials a "big spoon", and that gutting reform could lead to increased indebtedness in states and municipalities.
Bueno Torio, formerly a senator, had spent some time towards the end of his term warning about the dire condition of Mexican municipalities with indebtedness. At the time in 2012, he warned that 80 percent of all municipalities in Mexico were having dire economic problems due to increased amounts of debt.
It was a massive increase of public debt from 2005 to 2011 that led the populist former Coahuila governor and former PRI president Humberto Moreira Valdes to resign.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com