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Cablegate: Demonstrators Demand Gom Action On Rising Levels

VZCZCXRO5221
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2682/01 2481235
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041235Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3141
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 002682

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SNAR KCRM MX
SUBJECT: DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND GOM ACTION ON RISING LEVELS
OF VIOLENT CRIMES

REF: MEXICO 2669

REFTEL: MEXICO 2669
SUBJECT: Demonstrators Demand GOM Action on Rising Levels of
Violent Crimes
1. (SBU) Summary. Tens of thousands of Mexicans on marched
in Mexico City on August 30 to protest rising levels of
violence, with demonstrations taking place in over 80 other
Mexican cities, as well as a number of U.S. cities. The
demonstration was inspired by the recent kidnapping and
murder of Fernando Marti, the 14 year-old son of prominent
businessman Alejandro Marti. (See reftel.) Participants were
not just protesting the rise in crime but also by what many
see as the GOM's failure to address the issue. On August 31,
the march's civil society organizers met with President
Calderon to present their own crime-fighting proposals. End
Summary.
Impressive Turn Out at Anti-Crime Demonstration
2. (SBU) Although the demonstration commenced in heavy rain,
most observers estimated that it was as large if not larger
than the last major anti-crime march in 2004. According to
some observers, over 300,000 people took part in the 2004
"March of Silence." The editorial director of Mexico City
newspaper El Universal, who took part in both marches,
estimated that this year's march was larger than the 2004
march and noted that this was the fourth big anti-crime march
in the past 11 years. Alejandro Marti said he was satisfied
with the August 30 demonstration, "Illuminemos Mexico" (Let's
light up Mexico).
Growing Skepticism of GOM's Crime Strategy
3. (SBU) The march was inspired by the recent kidnapping and
murder of Fernando Marti, the 14 year-old son of prominent
businessman Alejandro Marti. Participants were not only
outraged by the rise in crime but also by what many see as
the GOM's failure to address the issue. According to a
survey published by Mexico City newspaper El Universal August
22, 81% of respondents stated that insecurity has increased
and 59% judged that the federal government's response so far
has failed to check this rise. Just over a third of those
polled blamed the impunity enjoyed by criminals on "the
inefficiency and corruption of the judges"; another third
blamed the police.
4. (SBU) Another leading Mexico City newspaper, La Reforma,
collated a mass of official data to make the same point. It
noted that, over the past decade, the public security budgets
had increased by 565% and that police forces had
substantially increased their strength (the federal police by
51% between 1999 and 2007, the Federal Investigation Agency
(AFI) by almost 100% over the past six years). The federal
public security ministry doubled its budget since 2000 to the
equivalent of $1.9 billion; the office of the federal chief
prosecutor (PGR) by 94% over the past decade, to about $918
million. All told, the country now has 516,000 police
officers, or 4.8 for every 1,000 inhabitants.
5. (SBU) Despite this effort, noted Reforma, the number of
reported kidnappings rose by 45% over the past five years,
and between 2006 and 2007 the number of crimes increased by
8.6%. In Mexico City alone, in 2007, there were on average
250 holdups and four murders a day.
6. (SBU) Two separate surveys published by Reforma August 27
and September 1 (conducted just before the August 21 Crime
Summit ) see reftel for more on the Crime Summit) shows a
wide-ranging pattern of decline in public approval ratings.
The August 27 poll shows that since March 2007, the armed
forces have seen their approval rating fall from 70% to 63%,
the Supreme Court from 49% to 40%, the Chamber of Deputies
from 34% to 24%, the Senate from 36% to 24%, and political
parties from 27% to 22%. Moreover, only 36% of respondents
declared themselves satisfied with the way the democratic
system is functioning in Mexico. Although the September 1
Reforma poll shows that Calderon's approval rating of 62% is
down only 3 percentage points since September 2007, 38% of
those polled believe that he has been the least effective in
the area of security ) his Administration's top priority )
while 22% said the economy.
Civil Society Presents Security Proposals
7. (SBU) Following the march, President Calderon met with 14
civic leaders who presented their own ten point plan of 10
actions to improve security. Calderon agreed to adopt
several proposals of their plan, most of which are in line
with the security pact adopted at last month's Crime Summit
(see reftel). Among the measures are the creation of a
citizens' panel to monitor government progress in fighting
crime, better police recruiting and oversight systems, and
equipping police with more powerful weapons. Calderon offered

MEXICO 00002682 002 OF 002


few details about the proposed panel ) the Citizens'
Institute of Social and Criminal Prevention ) but members of
the 14 civic groups told reporters the president promised a
concrete plan within a month.
Comment

8. (SBU) The public clamor over rising levels of violent
crime in Mexico, as evidenced by recently published polls and
this past weekend's march, is bringing the Calderon
administration under pressure to take action that evinces a
greater sense of urgency and produce results that deliver the
general population a greater sense of security. This began
with a shake-up of the federal Attorney General's Office
(PGR), continued with the launching of special
anti-kidnapping units, and culminated in the first full
meeting of the national public security council, where a
cross-section of leaders reached agreement on a 75-point
strategy to combat organized crime. Reinforcing these
actions, Calderon emphasized security as his administration's
top priority in his message as part of his Second State of
the Union Address (see septel). &We will not rest until you
feel safe in the city where you live,8 he said. Arguably,
increased crime violence, particularly among the drug
cartels, are a sign that the tougher security measures are
hitting a nerve. Further, to be fair, reforming Mexico's
security and its judicial system, clearly prerequisites for
addressing the Mexico's crime challenge, will take time given
inherent political, bureaucratic, and institutional
resistance. Nevertheless, as Mexico struggles to turn the
page on the crime threat it faces and citizens grow impatient
with the time it is taking, we can expect the debate over
crime to take on significant political overtones.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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