06/25/11— President Felipe Calderón’s televised meeting with poet and activist Javier Sicilia on Thursday has sparked a public discussion regarding justice and human rights in Mexico, including a call on Mexican citizens to recognize their responsibility to uphold the law. Sicilia previously organized a caravan of protestors that marched from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez and recently announced a second march that will end at Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. Sicilia’s son was killed in March by violence related to the drug war. As the key speaker at Calderón’s meeting, which occurred at the historic Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City, Sicilia called on Calderón’s government to apologize to the people for “failing in its duty” to protect its citizens, as reported by the BBC.
Calderón refused to apologize at the time. Days later in a lecture held at the headquarters of the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN), Technical Secretary of the National Security Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nacional) Alejandro Poiré indicated that Thursday’s meeting was an opportunity to clearly state the multiple issues surrounding security in Mexico. In his lecture, Poiré stated that every person has a specific role in fighting crime and that responsibility lies on citizens as well as the government to uphold the law. “Citizens also have a role in demanding, watching, supervising, [and] denouncing…” Poiré stated, as reported by Excelsior. Poiré then noted that Calderón and his administration had been implementing three specific means to combat Mexico’s organized crime, all of which Poiré reported as having made significant advances in combating drug trafficking and narco-related violence.
The director of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM), José Narro Robles, called the meeting between Calderón and Sicilia as a unique way to resolve Mexico’s security issues and years of systemic injustice through dialogue and reason. “I believe this contributes to strengthening Mexican democracy and gives certainty to society,” Robles said. Raúl Plascencia, the President of the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) also saw the dialogue between civil society and the president as positive, however Plascencia connects the reported rise in complaints of human rights violations to the federal government’s anti-crime strategies. Calderón asserted his administration’s tactics are sound, saying Thursday that his only regret was not sending in military forces sooner.