The Citizens’ Pact for a Mexico in Peace

By  |  17 / May / 2011

Editor’s note: this pact was read by Olga Reyes and Patricia Duarte in Mexico City’s Zócalo on May 8th, the last day of the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity. The document will be signed June 10 in Ciudad Juarez.

I. Reasons for Urgency

In the face of a national emergency, today more than ever, drastic measures are needed to end this war end its escalating violence, and reweave the social and communal fabric. This perilous and profoundly violent moment is the result of economic structures that create inequality and exclusion. Slow death reigns here, death brought by poverty’s torment, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for the full development of our lives and the destruction of the environment.

The war against drugs is a manifestation of policies and international agreements that cast Mexico as the battlefield and where the poor of this country and Central America pay the staggering price of their lives so that drugs arrive at their destination and business empires thrive. Facing this situation, the State has chosen a military strategy to confront organized crime and social protest, promoting a process of intensive and extensive militarization of public security not only through the broad deployment of military forces in national territory, but also through the growing practice of putting military commanders at the head of civilian police forces.

The consequence of this strategy, which emphasizes violent confrontation, is a civil war in which Mexicans are killing Mexicans. This strategy has caused forty-thousand deaths in the last four years. Just in April of this year, 1,427 bodies found in narco-graves were added to the toll. Civilian victims are in the thousands, more than 230 thousand have been displaced, ten thousand have been orphaned (though some estimate as many as thirty-thousand) ten thousand migrants have been kidnapped and thirty mayors have been assassinated.

A key explanatory factor of this wave of violence and war is the expansive corruption that has infiltrated every level of government. Impunity is another factor that allows 98.3 percent of crimes to go unpunished. We have a system of justice administration and enforcement incapable of investigating and sanctioning those who break laws and violate citizens’ rights.

II. Common Vision and Basic Demands and Commitments

1. We demand the investigation of murders and disappearances and the naming of victims

We propose to society and demand from authorities short- and medium-term actions that break ground on a new path to peace with justice and dignity.

A. The murders, disappearances, kidnappings, secret mass graves, human trafficking and the entire web of crime have blighted society. Finding out the identity of all murder victims is an indispensible requirement for rebuilding trust.

B. We demand that state and federal authorities publicly bring to justice the intellectual and material authors of the high-profile crimes that have devastated society, among them the violent campaign against the Reyes Marisela Escobedo family, the murders of Rubí Bety Cariño and Jirí Jaakola, the deadly fire at the ABC Daycare that claimed the lives of 49 young children and toddlers, the murders and kidnappings of members of the LeBarón family in Galeana, Chihuahua, and the youth massacred in Juarez’s Villas de Salvárcar and the state of Morelos.

C. We call on civil society to protect the memory of victims of the violence and never forget them and to demand justice by placing in every plaza and public space plaques with the victims’ names.

2. We demand an end to the war strategy and the establishment of a citizen security focus

A. The militarist approach and the militarized public security strategy must give way to a new strategy of citizen security with human rights at its core.

B(I). We demand that within two months local congresses approve constitutional human rights reform and publish it to give it full effectiveness, and, in that the same period, a mechanism for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders.

B(II). We demand that laws and rules with regard to national security that infringe on human rights and individual guarantees not be passed and that the proposed modifications to the National Security Law be rejected.

3. We demand that impunity and corruption be confronted

A. Far-reaching changes are needed in the enforcement and administration of justice that give true autonomy to the Public Ministry and Judiciary; establish citizen control over security forces; advance the reform of Mexico’s oral trial system; and establish more effective systems of judicial control that reduce the discretion of judge’s with regard to proceedings and rulings. Justice can no longer serve special interests and political calculus. Also, legislation is required that establishes the capacity and means to investigate and charge public officials of all three branches of government.

B. We demand that within six months Congress eliminate the immunity of legislators and officials of all three branches of government with regard to acts of corruption, violations of state law, and involvement with organized crime.

4. We demand that the profits and economic basis of crime be confronted

A. Criminality and its attendant violence are driven by the profits of trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, extortion, selling protection, and other crimes, profits which are then re-injected into the economy through money laundering. We demand an all-out assault on criminal assets and money laundering, the creation, in coordination with the Federal Financial Intelligence Agency, of independent bodies charged with the investigation of assets and the gathering of evidence for criminal charges and subsequent sentencing of those involved in illegal businesses.

B. We demand the publication of a National Report on the results of the investigation of assets and money laundering that includes the most notorious offenders that have been brought to justice this presidential term and a progress report on the formation of agencies to investigate money laundering in all 32 states and the federal district.

5. We demand that emergency attention be paid to the crisis of Mexican youth and effective actions be taken rebuild the social fabric

A. The security of citizens cannot be achieved with weapons and violence. We demand economic and social policies that give young people real access to education, health, culture, and employment because this nation’s youth are the principal victims of the drug war. We demand the preservation of the public character of education; the end of the National Education Workers Union’s leadership’s corporatist control of education policy; as well as an immediate funding increase for citizens’ security forces commensurate to funding of the armed forces and public security.

B. Within the next three months we demand the creation of a special program that will address the Mexican youth crisis by inverting budget priorities and guaranteeing that security spending does not exceed spending on building schools, increasing school attendance at all levels, creating universal scholarship programs, and supporting student-led athletic, cultural, and social projects designed to rebuild the social fabric in their neighborhoods, communities and housing units.

6. We demand participatory democracy

We demand a more representative democracy and democratization of the means of communication. True security requires democracy and new channels of citizen participation. We demand an expansion of the means and tools of popular participation in public matters through the institutional recognition of the popular consultation, independent political candidates, the establishment of impeachment referendums, popular control and collective actions.

We demand a federal telecommunications policy that, as quickly as possible, breaks up the media monopolies, initiates broad democratization, and opens the way for competition and the strengthening of public media.

We demand that the House of Deputies meets in a special session in less than two months to pass the constitutional political reform approved by the Senate, which authorizes popular referendums, legislative initiatives, independent candidates, and the immediate reelection of legislators and mayors.

III The Beginning of the Journey

We propose two stages to achieve this: a citizens’ pact between members of civil society and, in the second stage, a series of proposals and demands to government officials, party leaders and other powerful members of society.

This stage requires the participation of everyone. The civil society pact implies a unifying effort and organization of national civil society to craft messages and actions to end this war and its violence, as well as the  corruption and impunity that are destroying us as people and as a nation.

We must abandon apathy, grumbling, paternalism, and sectarian divisions in order to realize this new responsibility of political participation.

On one hand, this is an invitation to civil society to organize itself and unite around demands and basic foundations of struggle in order to end the war. On the other hand, with this unity we will be able to demand that the highest authorities publicly commit themselves to basic actions whose end is the achievement of true peace with justice and dignity in Mexico. NOW!

Translated by Murphy Woodhouse and Laura Carlsen

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