Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society

Sicilia’s March Continues Amidst Increased Scrutiny of Security Strategy

08/16/11—On Sunday August 15, over 1,000 people from Javier Sicilia’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity protested in the streets of Mexico City, voicing concern over the government’s strategy to combat drug trafficking while carrying banners and photos of victims as they silently marched from the Museum of Anthropology to the Presidential Palace. According to BBC News, the activists are calling on Congress to deny reforms to the National Security Law (Ley de Seguridad Nacional), which are currently being considered for approval, to ensure more protection for citizens and for victims against the drug-related violence that has increasingly plagued Mexico over the past years. Sicilia had been engaging in dialogue with the Mexican government over the current strategy, but conversations were suspended August 4 when he and members from the Movement for Peace and Justice were upset by the Senate’s approval of the National Security Law’s reforms. The talks are scheduled to resume on August 17.

If approved, the reforms would most likely mean a continuation of President Felipe Calderón’s current anti-drug strategy, which has a heavy focus on a military and police presence in combating drug trafficking and organized crime. For his part, Sicilia claims that the reforms “are aimed at legitimizing the use of the army for internal security.” The poet has been one of the loudest critics of the government’s approach following his son’s murder by drug cartel members earlier this year. He and his fellow protesters are calling for an end to the militarization of Mexico, citing that it has helped fuel the violence and has led to a “failed state” in Mexico, claims that the government continues to deny.

The current calls demanding better citizen security have coincided with increased attention being paid to military and police abuses against the public. A recent incident involving the breaking, entering, and pillaging of famed Mexican poet Efraín Bartolomé’s home by security forces searching for a suspect has fueled criticism of Calderón’s security-driven approach to fight organized crime. Critics are most recently pointing to the rise in the number of reported military and police raids similar to Bartolomé’s experience on August 11. According to the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH), 3,786 complaints have been formally registered between 2006 and 2011 that relate specifically to raids led by security forces. In addition to complaints of illegal entries and robbery, CNDH has also reported cases of rights abuses by security forces against citizens that include torture, unjustified arrests, planting of evidence in order to justify illegal entries, stealing from occupants and injuring them, forcing people to “voluntarily” agree to searches, and threatening victims into admitting the possession of illegal materials. In a report released on Friday, CNDH stated, “Illegal searches have become a common practice in many parts of the country, and they reveal a systematic problem.” More about the Bartolomé incident and the arrest surrounding the related police raid can be read here.


“Comisión critica allanamientos ilegales en México.”  El Nuevo Herald.  August 12, 2011.

Associated Press. “Mexican Panel Finds Law Enforcement Violations in Drug War.”  New York Times. August 12, 2011.

“La CNDH pide que se elimine la figura del cateo.”  El Economista.  August 14, 2011.

“Protest March in Mexico City Against Drug War.”  BBC News.  August 14, 2011.

EFE. “Mexican Activists Call on President, Lawmakers to Work for Peace.” Fox News Latino. August 15, 2011.

“Llamado a la movilización.”  August 15, 2011.

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