Whatever Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has done to help stem the tide of Central Americans crossing the U.S. border, he’s failed to bring down the country’s extraordinary murder rate. And two high-profile murders in Mexico City—one a young woman and the other a little girl—are highlighting the problem of “femicide” in particular. Our current immigration policy is importing this problem here. We still need a wall!
Homicides in Mexico rose 2.7 percent in 2019; an astonishing 36,000 people were murdered, some 100 per day [Mexico’s homicide count in 2019 among its highest, by Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post, January 21, 2020]. Mexico has the highest murder rate among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member states by far, at 24.8 per 100,000. The U.S. comes in second at a disgraceful 5.3 per 100,000—given immigration policy, not unrelated.
But “femicide” is currently the main problem for AMLO politically, as two recent cases demonstrate:
Mexican tabloids published photos of Escamilla’s body on their front pages [A 25-year-old woman was brutally murdered and skinned in Mexico. Then newspapers published photos of the body, by Rob Picheta and Natalie Gallon, CNN, February 14, 2020].
Worse thing is, Escamilla had filed a domestic violence complaint against the suspect boyfriend, but “Mexican police didn’t bat an eyelash,” Latin Times’ Bagchi reported.
Surveillance videos showed that little Fatima left school with a woman whom she apparently knew. She walked hand-in-hand through the city with the woman, so Fatima obviously trusted her [Fátima conocía a la mujer que se la llevó: FGJ (“Fatima knew the Woman who Took Her: Mexico City Attorney General”), Excelsior (Notimex), February 18, 2020].
Cops arrested the woman and her husband on February 19 [Suspects in abduction, murder of 7-year-old Mexican girl detained, AFP, February 20, 2020].
On February 12, Excelsior published a feature about Ingrid Escamilla and seven other women murdered in Mexico City in the last six months, four in December alone [Los feminicidios que han conmocionado a la CDMX (“The Femicides Which Have Shaken Mexico City”), February 12, 2020].
Qué horror.https://t.co/CVqxaWZxsp— Andrea Capitanacci. (@Capitanacci_) February 25, 2020
The murders are not confined to the capital.
Femicide, perhaps significantly, is a specific crime under Mexican law. But the wisdom of that is open to question for technical reasons [¿Cuándo un asesinato es tipificado como feminicidio en México? (“When is a Murder Classified as a Femicide in Mexico?”), Excelsior, February 17, 2020]. It’s hard enough to punish murderers in Mexico without introducing requirements that might make convictions more difficult.
Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz recognized this and proposed returning femicide to the category of homicide, but that was just a few days before the murder of Escamilla. He can forget that now—AMLO won’t allow it because the move might be “misunderstood” [AMLO rejects Gertz Maneros proposal to eliminate crime, by Pedro Dominguez, EN24, February 5, 2020].
Unsurprisingly, the murders have inspired some fed-up Mexicans to administer rough justice. The same day as Escamilla’s brutal murder, cops arrived in the nick of time to rescue a man about to be lynched. He attacked his ex-wife with a knife in front of their small daughter; neighbors were uninterested in a trial [Intenta matar a su exesposa frente a su pequeña hija; casi lo linchan (“Man Tries to Kill his Ex-Wife in Front of their Young Daughter and is Almost Lynched”), by Gerardo Jimenez, Excelsior, February 12, 2020].
Meanwhile, feminists are up in arms, and not without justification. Protests began after Escamilla’s murder, some just outside the stately National Palace, the ceremonial Mexican capitol where AMLO lives. The protesters threw red paint on the building’s old colonial wooden doors [Queman, pintan y destruyen en marcha; protestan por feminicidio de Ingrid Escamilla (“They Burn, They Paint, They Destroy in the March: They Protest for the Femicide of Ingrid Escamilla”), Excelsior, February 15, 2020]. Some of the protests occurred during AMLO’s morning presser and could be heard inside [Woman’s Grisly Murder in Mexico Puts AMLO on the Defensive, by Lorena Rios, Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2020].
AMLO’s replies to questions about the murders were unimpressive. He blamed the problem on corruption and “root causes,” and linked Fatima’s murder to “neoliberalism,” his stock term for predecessor regimes [Versión estenográfica de la conferencia de prensa matutina (“Stenographic version of the morning press conference”) Gob.mx, February 17, 2020].
And in an extraordinarily tone-deaf comment, AMLO said that he didn’t want the “femicides” to distract from the upcoming raffle of the presidential airplane.
(AMLO refused to use the jet and planned to sell it, but when the aircraft didn’t receive any bids, he announced a raffle. Then he decided to keep the jet and raffle off the value of the plane and award the proceeds to 100 winners [Mexico abandons plan to offload presidential jet in raffle, The Guardian, February 7, 2020]).
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As bad as “femicide” is, murder itself is Mexico’s real security problem. At AMLO’s news conference on January 21, a reporter asked about the murder stats. He replied:
I think that we have to continue fighting crime, these organizations [drug cartels]. We are putting the same importance on white collar crime, because … the principal problem in Mexico is corruption, political corruption. … [T]he greatest harm to Mexico has been done by white collar criminals.
[Versión estenográfica de la conferencia de prensa matutina (“Stenographic Version of the Morning Press Conference”) Gob.mx].
But murder demands immediate action, not fretting about white-collar corruption, whatever the relationship between the two. And while culprits in the murders of Fatima and Escamilla appear to have been caught, too few murderers are punished:
The impunity rate for murder in Mexico is 89%. That is to say that 1 of each 10 murders is resolved.
In 11 states, the impunity for murder surpasses 91% and in 7 it is 95%.
[Impunidad en homicidio doloso en México: Reporte 2019 (“Impunity in intentional homicide in Mexico: Report 2019”), by Guillermo Raúl Zepeda Lecuona y Paola Jiménez Rodríguez, Impunidad Cero, December 2019]
The upshot on murders in Mexico: The rate is sky-high and rising, and the legal system, whatever AMLO’s good intentions, is unable to handle it.
Of course, Americans want that situation to improve. But we can do nothing about it.
However, we can stop the problem from spilling across the border.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.