Written by H. Prado and R. Herrera, with information from Diego Osorno
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Agencia Reforma. Distrito Federal. The (Mexican) federal government confirmed for REFORMA that there will be no updated official number of murders or deaths related with organized crime until the end of (Calderon’s) six-year term (sexenio). The last official statistics to the so-called Database of Deaths Caused by Presumed Criminal Rivalry closed on September 30, 2011, with 47,515 deaths.
Jaime Lopez Aranda, head of the Information Center for the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, stated that, although the databases were unpublished and an example of transparency, they were never more than an “experiment” that in addition gave rise to uncertainty in the Security Cabinet, and that’s why it was decided not to continue maintaining them.
Lopez Aranda explained that, “in my personal opinion, not as a government official, this database was a very good experiment in transparency, but it was a failed experiment. In other words, I believe the Mexican government should not be doing the classification of deaths due to organized crime because this greatly distorts the criminal proceedings.”
President Felipe Calderon’s administration will provide only information on “intentional homicides” (homicidios dolosos) committed in the nation, that amounted to 94,357 deaths up to June of this year, but it will not break out the ones related to organized crime.
“There will be no follow-up (to the homicide database). The references that were used came from federal agencies; Cisen (Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional, a law enforcement intelligence agency), PGR (Attorney General), Marina, Sedena (National Defense Secretariat; Mexican Army); a “lock box” group would collect it and that was the number given (to the media.)
“But I did not have a criminal investigation to back up every one of those cases because, in addition, there cannot be a criminal investigation for organized crime homicides. So, then, (the number) was not legally supported,.” he stated.
The government official continued, “They set the criteria and said: ‘Let’s see, if they used large caliber (high power) firearms, if they moved the body, if they tied it up, if there’s signs of torture, if two or more of these (criteria) are present, it could be like organized crime.’ the (numbers) published were supported by methodology, but they were only an approximation, like saying, ‘my gut tells me that it is (an organized crime homicide,)’” he explained.
Lopez Aranda argued that the database currently developed by the PGR only includes details about intentional homicides, because the (legal) classifications “execution,” “homicides related with organized crime,” or “deaths from presumed criminal rivalries” simple cannot be used because they are not defined in any penal code.
Complaints about the numbers
The federal government’s decision to bury the (statistics on the) number of persons executed during the six-year term was criticized by experts and by Javier Sicilia, leader of the Movimiento por la Paz (Movement For Peace). The poet declared that the Felipe Calderon administration wants to bury the historical memory of the persons who died in the war against drug trafficking in a “clandestine grave.”
“What is behind this is the same logic used by the Nazis: the human beings who died in the war against the narco are (just) a number, they’re cockroaches. They’re not even worth counting. This is the start of a type of Nazism,” says Sicilia.
“The truth is that the (number of deaths) was never known. They invented the number! They did this after we demanded it at the (meeting held) at the Castle (Chapultepec Castle on June 23, 2011). They gave out a number, and after that number we know that they are dying and they keep on dying, but the Pentagon, I don’t know how they did it, was talking about 150,000 (deaths). And, there are mayors who say the number is 250,000, and we have yet to determine the number of clandestine graves out there. And we will know, some day we will know.”
Eduardo Gallo, the former president of Mexicans United Against Crime (Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia), believes that the federal government wants to leave the (actual) number up in the air so that at the end of the six-year term, this number won’t be associated with the final count (attributed to) the Calderon administration.
Ana Laura Magaloni, researcher with the Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE: Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas) says that if the database that the Federal Administration itself developed is wrong, then what needs to be done is to develop another one that does meet standards for reliability.
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