by Luis Rubio
By Verónica Ortiz O
By Luis Rubio
In one of the thousands of memes that I have received in recent weeks, the question is “Will the lists of candidates for pluris federal legislators (through lists) register with the National Electoral Institute or the Attorney General?” The question is obviously ironic but reflects the popular sentiment: political parties, particularly Morena, have chosen a bunch of candidates of dubious reputation for their lists of legislators by proportional representation -those who do not owe loyalty to anyone other than their party leaders- leaving behind any pretense of representing the citizenry or being accountable to it, two of the nodal elements of representative democracy.
In its broadest sense, the relevant question is for what and for whom politics are. The issue that concerns me is not the evident abandonment of ideologies in the formation of party lists and coalitions, but the total absence of convictions that define a clear political or even pragmatic orientation. Opportunism has taken over Mexican politics and manifests itself in all areas; opportunism has the immediate virtue of bringing a party or candidate closer to power, but at the cost of risking the little legitimacy that is left to the political system. When that happens, the collapse of the political system could begin, as happened in Venezuela two decades ago.
The problem is aggravated now that Mexican politics have taken a dangerous course in recent months, turning electoral processes into a judicial flight and leading politics into a space conducive to revenge and vendettas. The sum of these two elements -the almost criminal isolation of politicians and the turning of street fights into imprisonment or threat of incarceration by political opponents- entails a deterioration that does not promise anything good.
The first to initiate this path was the PAN with the arrest of a PRI operative in Coahuila for his imprisonment in Chihuahua, a process that would never have occurred in a serious country: kidnapping, imprisonment with an arrest warrant without a name, et cetera. The governor of Chihuahua squeezed the matter to its maximum potential, politicizing it to the utmost without, until now, having published elements that justify his actions. Was it justice or political-electoral promotion?
Neither slow nor lazy, this week the government seemed to respond to the PAN affront with an accusation of money laundering against Anaya, the PAN presidential candidate. As in the case of Chihuahua, the facts are vague, suggesting a political, rather than a motivation of justice. Of course, it is possible that both of these cases do have merit, but given the electoral moment, it is at least equally probable that this is the beginning of a series of capricious actions in the hands of authorities with too much power in their hands and no scruples. The ease with which these arrest warrants are issued suggests that no one is safe. Worse, it signals that the political leaders have opted for an open war at the most delicate moment of national political life and with the weakest -and directionless- electoral authority.
Both cases manifest two things: on the one hand, the defects of the criminal reform in that it makes it possible to initiate criminal proceedings with the mere mention of a protected witness whose name does not have to be published or known. This could be appropriate in a country where there is rule of law and due process is followed, but certainly not in Mexico, which has not even been able to legislate clearly and concisely. On the other hand, these examples show that, in the Clausewitz style, politicized justice has become a means through which political accounts are settled: politics by other means. The criminal reform created a new avenue to distort justice, obscure corruption and politicize daily life even more.
As Corral and his PAN acolytes found, in the new justice system mere presumption of guilt is enough to grant an arrest warrant. With that instrument in the hands of pernicious and unscrupulous rulers, protected witnesses can been invented and, as the French say, voilà!, everything is solved. With this instrument, the door opens to the use of the mechanisms of justice to address political issues and, even worse, to the politicization of justice. And none of our political masters has clean hands in this area.
The big question is where this path takes us. In countries where democracy has led to the independence of law procurement and enforcement, as has been the case in Brazil, their societies have managed to build an alternative footing to the legitimacy of the system, facilitating (at least potentially) the transition to a new, stable, regime. Paraphrasing Joaquín Villalobos, when justice is politicized, it is impossible to seek political agreements, fight corruption or guarantee macroeconomic stability and social inclusion.
The parties, the government and the candidates that promote this anti-political thrust are taking Mexicans on a slippery path that cannot result in anything positive. Opportunism serves for a moment but sooner or later it reverts into crisis, if not chaos. It is still time to avoid such a destructive closure.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
By Verónica Ortiz O
Two days before concluding the first third of the presidential race, some pre-campaign balances stand out in terms of the usefulness of the scheme and the effects for the participating actors.
The electoral race is divided into three stages: pre-campaign (December 14 to February 11), inter-campaign, and campaigns (March 30 to June 27).
Therefore, two days before concluding the first third of the presidential race, some pre-campaign balances stand out in terms of the usefulness of the scheme and the effects for the participating actors:
1. Duration of the race: it is not reduced. In fact, the three stages total 195 days, the same number of days as in 2012, but more than the 161-day campaign period of 2006.
2. Cost of the campaigns: it does not decrease either. The public budget allocated to the federal campaigns amounts to 2,148 million pesos, 27 percent more than in 2012. Each presidential candidate will be able to spend 429 million pesos.
3. Purpose of the pre-campaigns: it was not fulfilled. The idea of functioning as parties’ “primaries” (the law defines them as those activities within the internal processes of candidate selection) was exceeded. The great visibility of Lopez Obrador as the undisputed candidate of Morena made the lack of definition of the other contenders very costly. The truth is that the three coalitions registered a single candidate, although they will have to ratify them as their official candidates for the next stage.
4. Independent: the tortuous road. The pre-campaign period coincides with that of obtaining support and validation of signatures for party-less candidates. The result is that they will reach the start of the campaigns at a clear disadvantage. It is contradictory to include these candidates yet impose disproportionate requirements and obstacles in comparison to parties’ candidates. From setbacks when using the app to collect signatures, to the clear need for human and material resources to cover the state dispersion required by law.
5. Surveys: timely notifications. From December to date, 10 surveys have been published, which record at least three valuable data: one, the concentration of resources and ads managed to raise the visibility of the candidates Meade and Anaya to more than 80 percent of voters; two, AMLO remains the lead in all surveys with up to a two-digit advantage; three, the fight for the second place seems to be clarify near the end of the pre-campaign period. In 7 of the 10 surveys, Ricardo Anaya holds the second place and José Antonio Meade, the third.
More than defining, the surveys should be an input for the candidates and their teams to review, reinforce or modify their campaign strategies.
The inter-campaign phase will span from Monday until March 29, in which pre-candidates will remain active but may not appear in radio or television ads. It will be the last breath before the official start of the campaigns.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
This article was originally published in Spanish on El Heraldo de Mexico.
by Luis Rubio
by Luis Rubio
The original version of this article was published in Foreign Policy last December 26, 2017. Click here to see it.
by María Amparo Casar
by Verónica Ortiz O
The “unveiling” of Jose Antonio Meade as presidential pre-candidate of the PRI fulfilled the tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
The political liturgy adhered to its protocol. In order to seal the marriage between the aspirant and the party, the “unveiling” of Jose Antonio Meade as presidential pre-candidate of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) fulfilled the tradition of the old, the new, the borrowed, and the blue.
What is the new? It is the person himself: a former secretary of state with outstanding academic credentials and proven experience in public administration. What is unprecedented is his lack of party affiliation and electoral experience. Jose Anotnio Meade has never campaigned or competed for public office before.
What is precedented/old is the liturgy itself and the contrast with modernity: the most ancient ritual for the most novel candidacy. What is also old are the signals, messages, and customs not seen since the PRI held power in the last century. The novel aspirant is wrapped up by the most archaic sectors and political organizations.
As unusual as it may seem, what is being/something borrowed is the Party. A worn-out PRI - faced with the discredit of politicians and parties around the world and the rise of anti-establishment candidacies - is committed to championing an outsider, a technocrat who has led four secretaries in two different administrations. This is fireproof for the PRI’s pragmatism.
Lastly, the PRI’s ritual was fulfilled to the point of including a shade of blue. Almost immediately after the announcement of his pre-candidacy, Meade received public support from the “rebel senators,” including Ernesto Cordero and Javier Lozano. Even the first former PAN President, Vicente Fox - a fervent supporter of Enrique Peña Nieto since 2012 and an admirer of Foreign Minister Videgaray - voiced his support for Jose Antonio Meade.
So far, the story is developing without major setbacks. There is no doubt about President Peña Nieto’s merit, who has led the process with great political skill. The path has not been easy: pushing a “sympathizer” to the highest elected office goes against the PRI culture that rewards militancy, discipline, and unity. Even so, the other pre-candidates, leaders of Congress, and prominent party figures have closed ranks around Meade. The most visible dissident, Ivonne Ortega, has kept an eloquent silence, which smells like capitulation.
Of course, there is still a long way to go. Years ago, during the times of tricolor presidentialism, one of the meta-constitutional powers of the president in turn (Carpizo dixit) was to elect its successor. In the effervescent Mexican democracy of the 21st century, the PRI pre-candidate will have to compete in adverse conditions. Meade will need to convince the hard vote of the PRI, the nonconformists of PAN, and the millions of young people who do not believe in parties.
In the end, it will be shown whether the risky bet will win. For now, it has to be recognized that despite being in third place on voter intention in the polls, the tricolor “unveiling” kept the entire country attentive.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
by Luis Rubio
by Carolina Torreblanca and José Merino
Between 2004 and 2016, 26,266 women were murdered in Mexico; we estimate that 34% of them, 8,913 women, were victims of femicide.
The systematic differences between murdered men and murdered women: what we can know
The violence men and women experience daily in Mexico is very distinct. While it is true that men have been most of the victims of the huge surge of violence that has flooded the country since 2006, there is another type of violence which precedes and will probably outlive this recent surge: the constant and persistent violence which affects women. To understand it, we must understand the systematic differences between murdered men and murdered women in Mexico.
To start with, a much larger percentage of women than men are killed at home.
While 32.3% of murdered women die at home, only 12% of murdered men die there. That is, while one in three murdered women was killed at home, only one in every ten men died in the same location. It is important to stress that for almost 25% of homicides, we have no information regarding where the killings took place.
The age of the victims is also markedly different: a larger percentage of elderly women and young girls are murdered. While girls from 0 to 11 years make up 4.4% of all female murder victims, boys of that same range represent only .7% of male victims. Elderly women account for 7.5% of all female victims, while their contemporary males represent only 4% of male homicide victims in the same period.
Male and female victims of homicide also differ by their marital status. A larger proportion of female victims are divorced, 5% versus 1.6% of males respectively. On the other hand, more female than male victims were single, 37% compared to 34% for men.
Recently, a new contextual variable was added to the published mortality data, it captures whether domestic violence was related to the homicide or not. However, in 95% of the cases where the victim was male and in 91% of the cases where she was female, this variable is coded as ‘not available’.
This lack of information notwithstanding, a much larger percentage of female homicides than male homicides was connected to domestic violence. While only .8% of male homicides was reportedly connected with domestic violence, the percentage is 5.2% for female murder victims.
Given the systematic differences in the profiles between male and female homicide victims, it is unsurprising that the specific cause of their death, that is, the precise fashion in which the murder was committed, also varies widely.
The most notorious difference is the frequency of homicides by firearm; while on average 64% of male homicides in the last 13 years has been committed with a firearm, it was only used in 41% of female homicides.
Instead of dying by gunshot, women are more often strangled or suffocated. On average, during this period this method has been the cause of death of almost 20% of female homicide victims, while only 6.3% of male victims died because of strangling or suffocation.
What is a femicide? What we can infer given what we do know
Between 2004 and 2016 26,266 women and 211,436 men have been murdered in Mexico. Both the victims and the perpetrators are mainly men, however comparing the absolute magnitude of the violence each sex faces is not only useless but it also helps to obscure the substantial differences that do exist between them.
If we compare the female homicide murder rate to the male homicide murder rate for the last 13 years we can see that, while the former has remained basically constant throughout the whole period, the latter has followed and driven the ups and downs of the national violence epidemic. We are faced, as we had previously stated, with two different phenomena. Although women are also victims of the violence associated with organized crime, their level of victimization is much less volatile than that of men: women die as a result of a constant violence.
It would be a disservice to argue that every homicide where the victim was female qualifies as a femicide. By doing this we would not only be emptying the word of any specific content, making it a synonym with homicide, but we would also be erasing the devastating specificities of the violence women suffer just for being women.
So, how many victims of femicide have there been in the last years in Mexico? First, we must state what does qualify as a femicide.
In the international arena a femicide is defined as a “homicide for gender reasons”. This definition, while clearly asserting the quid of the issue, makes measuring the phenomenon almost impossible. However, the Mexican federal penal code provides a more actionable definition; it considers that a femicide has taken place if:
I.- The victim presents signs of sexual violence of any kind;
II.- The victim was subjected to degrading or offensive injuries, before or after the homicide or the victim was subjected to acts of necrophilia;
III.- There is a known background of violence in the home, school or work environments against the victim;
IV.- The victim and the perpetrator had had a sentimental, caring or trusting relationship;
V.-There is information that points to there being previous threats relating to the crime, such as harassment or other injuries;
VI.- The victim was kept uncommunicated for whatever period before the murder;
VII.- The victim’s body is exposed or exhibited in a public place.
This means that if we wanted to accurately count the total number of femicide victims we would have be able to know if the victim suffered sexual violence, even when this is not the specific cause of death; if the victim was mutilated or injured before or after death; if the perpetrator was an acquaintance or had a relationship with the victim; if the murder was preceded by harassment or other injuries and if the corpse was exposed in a public place, regardless of where the murder was committed. Mortality data published by the National System of Health Information (SINAIS for its name in Spanish) thorough the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI for its name in Spanish) is insufficient for this purpose.
What can we know? Where the victim died, who she was and how she was murdered; additionally, we have the domestic violence variable, even though (as we have seen) it contains no information for 90% of the cases. With these tools, we construct our own category of “femicide”.
To include those homicides in which the victim and the perpetrator had a previous relationship of any kind, we count as a femicide every instance where the homicide took place at home, regardless of how the homicide was committed. Of course, this way to account for the previous existence of a relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is imprecise, but it is the best proxy considering the information available.
Along with murders committed at home, we count as a femicide all instances where the specific cause of death was listed as “sexual aggression”, regardless of where the murder was committed. Lastly, we counted as a femicide all murders where domestic violence was reported.
Per this new typology, 34% of 26,266 women who were murdered in Mexico between 2004 and 2016 were victims of femicide.
This typology does not mean to imply that women murdered on the street can’t be the victims of femicide as a result of a systemic violence that extends far beyond the confines of familial relationships; what it does do is recognize that it is impossible to know for sure, unless sexual abuse or domestic violence is documented.
If we now compare the female homicide rate, meaning the women murdered each year that are not counted as being victims of femicide per our typology, with the femicide homicide rate we can see that they follow starkly different patterns; while the femicide murder rate per 100 thousand women is very stable during the entire period, with a minimum of .8 and a maximum of 1.4, the female homicide rate follows the national pattern: an increase starting 2007, peaking in 2011 and a new wave of violence from 2015 onward.
These differences allow us to see that, on the one hand, our typology of “femicide” is capturing a particular sort of violence, constant and permanent, that affects women regardless of what is happening on the national level and that, on the other hand, there is a group of women who is in fact affected by the same rise in violence that affects men since 2006.
Femicides in the states
Distinguishing between homicides and femicides allows us to place special attention to those states in the country where the phenomenon is particularly troubling.
In 2016, Tamaulipas was the state with the highest rate of femicides in the country, with 3.5 femicides for every 100 thousand women, next come Guerrero, Colima and Morelos, while Yucatán and Aguascalientes are the states with the lowest rates of femicides.
Precisely because femicidal violence is different from homicidal violence, there are states which have a very low femicide rate but a high homicide rate or vice versa. For example, Michoacán has a rate of 4 homicides for every 100 thousand women, the seventh highest in the country, but a femicide rate of only 1.2.
In general, states tend to have a higher female homicide than femicide rate, however there are six exceptions: for Tamaulipas, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Tlaxcala and Durango the situation is the opposite.
Since 2011 INEGI has published a State Justice Census which allows us to know the exact number of investigations opened for each crime every year in all the states. Since 2014, those crimes include “femicide”.
In 2014, according to our own definition of a “femicide” implemented with the data provided by SINAIS, there were 802 femicides in the country; however, according to the Census there were only 276 investigations opened for the same crime with 322 women killed.
If we subtract the total number of victims of femicide reported by the Census from the total number of femicides per our own estimations, we get that the Estado de México is the state with the larges disparity. While according to our own methodology there were 127 victims of femicide there that year, the Census reports that there were only 48; a difference of 79 women.
The second state with the biggest disparity is Oaxaca, which shows a difference of 58 women. On the other end of the spectrum there are 5 states which reported more victims of femicide than what our own calculations estimate. In Aguascalientes, the prosecutors investigated the murder of 1 woman more as femicide than we estimated had occurred in that state in the same period; while in Morelos the difference was of 10 women.
These discrepancies show very clearly that what makes a homicide qualify as “femicide” in one state is not necessarily sufficient in another and, therefore, to use the Census, that is the information provided by each state’s state attorney, to tally the total number of femicides in the country results in a biased and inexact measure.
Everything we don’t, but should know: The Bogotá Protocol
The Bogotá Protocol on the Quality of Homicide Data for Latin America lists all the minimal requirements to be included when publishing homicide data. These requirements incorporate publishing not only information regarding the victim, but also information surrounding the homicide. Naturally the date and time of the crime, but also of the discovery of the corpse, the motives of the homicide and (something of the highest importance if we want to be able to count femicides) detailed information on the alleged assailant, including his or her relation to the victim.
Doubtlessly our approximation to counting the number of femicides in Mexico is imprecise, this is the inevitable consequence of the fact that both the data on the number of investigations published in the Census and the data based on death certificates, which is gathered by SINAIS and published by INEGI, don’t include all the information the Bogotá Protocol stipulates.
If we want to know the real magnitude of the femicidal violence in the Mexico we need better quality data. However, what our methodology to count femicides with the information we do already have makes clear is the fact that the violence women and men experience is starkly different. Women suffer a constant and permanent violence.
What we want and what is needed is better data to measure this specific violence more precisely.
The views expressed here are solely those of the authors.
 See the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling “González y otras (Campo Algodonero) vs. México”, 2009