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Blog Carnival: Mexico – Is There a Solution to This Violence?

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

One cannot deny the existence of the numerous reflections that have emerged as a result of the historical consequences of violence; the key question being how to avoid it. One of the strongest discussions has been that of ‘non-violence', lead by well recognized figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Their approaches encouraged people not to use violent means to protest or to respond to violence.

This implies a life decision and years of work, so in this fifth installment of the Blog Carnival: Mexico – Citizenry, Violence and Blogs, rather than focus on large scale ideas such as non-violence, we will look at more immediate actions, like local debates (in this case in Mexico) or governmental decisions.

"For the peace of Ciudad Juárez by Flicker user laap mx (CC BY-NC 2.0)

"For the peace of Ciudad Juárez by Flicker user laap mx (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is there a solution to this violence?

Putting it in another way: What is being done to stop the violence? Juan Tadeo, for example, comments [es] on the comprehensive proposal recently presented by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), a document [es] that recognizes the gravity of the situation and that identifies the problems of the current public policy on security. Juan concludes:

acepto que el documento en cuestión no representa una “cura milagrosa” ni la solución a todos los problemas del país en materia de inseguridad, sin embargo no me queda duda de que es a través de propuestas similares, provenientes de todos los sectores de la ciudadanía, que se podrá combatir a los problemas que aquejan a México. Nos queda el reto de analizar a detalle y de manera exhaustiva la propuesta en comento, difundirla, cuestionarla y enriquecerla, para después exigir a nuestros representantes (legisladores) que pongan manos a la obra y demuestren si su lealtad y compromiso son con México, o con intereses personales y de partido.

I accept that the document in question doesn't represent a “miraculous cure” nor the solution to all the country's problems as it relates to insecurity, however I have no doubt that it is through similar proposals coming from all sectors of the citizenry that we will be able to combat the problems that afflict Mexico. There remains the challenge to analyze in detail and in an exhaustive manner the proposal, disseminate it, question it and enrich it, so that afterwards we can require from our representatives (legislators) that they put their hands to work and demonstrate their loyalty and commitment to Mexico, or to personal or party interests.

Omar Rábogo Vital and Lucía Bergara publish a post on the Altoparlante blog of Article 19 in Animal Político [es] where they analyze Mexican President Felipe Calderón's discourse against violence. They summarize their impressions in this manner:

La violencia es una realidad en México. Las cifras oficiales y los testimonios de las víctimas no mienten. No se puede permitir que bajo el discurso de seguridad nacional se sigan perpetrando violaciones a los derechos fundamentales. No hay seguridad nacional sin respeto a los derechos humanos. La estrategia del Gobierno Federal para legitimar su guerra contra el crimen organizado y el discurso que ha utilizado el presidente Felipe Calderón en varias ocasiones se contradice. Es obligación de los gobiernos informar a la ciudadanía de las acciones y estrategias que se implementan. Un discurso que intenta encubrir violaciones a los derechos humanos y reflejar una realidad inexistente no ayuda a la construcción democrática de un país.

Violence is a reality in Mexico. Official statistics and the victims’ testimonies don't lie. One cannot allow that underneath the national security discourse they continue perpetrating violations of fundamental rights. There is no national security without respect to human rights. The strategy of the federal government to legitimize its war against organized crime and the discourse that President Felipe Calderón has used on various occasions is contradictory. It is the obligation of governments to inform its citizens of the actions and strategies that it implements. A discourse that intends to conceal human rights violations and reflect a reality that doesn't exists doesn't help the democratic construction of a country.

Epriani in #SinLugar touches upon the same theme of governmental security policies briefly in his post “The agreement that no one remembers” [es].

Han pasado casi seis meses desde la firma del Acuerdo para la Cobertura Informativa de la violencia promovido en el marco de Iniciativa México. Hasta ahora, el acuerdo no es más que un evento mediático, una mera ocurrencia política sin consecuencias. El observatorio de medios creado en el marco del acuerdo no ha emitido ningún resultado (tendría que haberlo hecho al tercer mes). El sitio web no reporta ninguna actividad distinta a la difusión del acuerdo. Los medios continúan actuando exactamente igual que antes del acuerdo.

Almost six months have passed since the signing of the Accord for News Coverage of Violence promoted within the framework of the Mexico Initiative. Until now, the agreement hasn't been more than a media event, a mere political occurrence without consequences. The media observatory created in the framework of the agreement has not issued any results (it should have been done by the third month). The website doesn't report any distinct activity other than the circulation of the agreement. The media continue acting exactly in the same way that they did before the agreement.

Sofia López Olalde, from the blog En busca de ciudades sustentables, comments [es] on recent statistics that contradict the official triumphalist discourse, indicating that Mexico is more impoverished and more violent.

Sería mejor que el gobierno volteara a ver, leer y escuchar de verdad a la ciudadanía que ya no sólo se queja, a la ciudadanía que ahora propone cambios de fondo, reformas políticas, estructurales, estrategias para salvaguardar la integridad de la gente, a la ciudadanía que hoy mueve conciencias a través de palabras cargadas de verdad. O ya por lo menos que el Gobierno Federal deje de enriquecer a las televisoras pagando cantidades estratosféricas de dinero por la aparición de anuncios que publicitan el buen trabajo del gobierno; que aseguran que en México se puede hoy “vivir mejor”, que “a Michoacán le esta yendo muy bien” y que “el Gobierno Federal trabaja por tu seguridad”. Basta ya de seguir defendiendo lo indefendible.

It would be better that the government returns to see, read and really listen to the citizenry that doesn't just complain but that now proposes profound changes, political and structural reforms, strategies to safeguard the integrity of the people, the citizenry that moves consciences with truth filled words. Or at least that the Federal Government stop making TV networks rich by paying stratospheric quantities of money for the appearance of announcements that broadcast the good work of the government, that assure that in Mexico one can “live better” today, that “in Michoacán they are doing very well” and that “the Federal government works for your security”. Enough of continuing to defend the indefensible.

Alejandro Galicia writes [es] on his blog Uno en la Red about this “violated citizenry”, analyzing Mexican democracy and society as well as the State's use or misuse of violence:

La sociedad mexicana per se no es violenta, ha sido violentada tanto por carencias como por el tipo de respuesta del Estado a la violencia, esta depende de factores estructurales o de satisfactores presentes o ausentes. Primero, México arrastra problemas de pobreza estructural que inhiben el crecimiento económico, pero muy especialmente, por la distribución de la riqueza, [...] lo que ha llevado a la concentración de la riqueza en pocas manos [...] En segundo lugar, ha creado un sistema político parasitario que congela toda iniciativa de cambio estructural dentro del propio sistema de poder político, son los mismos gobernantes los que están muy conformes con el actual sistema de corrupción, [...] por ello, la urgencia de una verdadera Reforma Política a la que todos los partidos se han adherido pero sin decir qué tipo de reforma y para cuando, esta apatía y largas es clara cuando estamos a un año de un nuevo proceso electoral en 2012, de aquí la falta de un real interés por llevar a cabo dicha reforma.

Mexican society per se isn't violent, it has been violated as much by deficiencies as by the type of response of the State to violence, this depends on structural factors or on present or absent satisfiers. First, Mexico brings problems of structural poverty that inhibits economic growth, but especially due to the distribution of wealth [...] that has concentrated wealth in the hands of a few [...] In the second place, it has created a political parasite system that congeals all structural change initiatives within the public power system, these are the same leaders who are very satisfied with the current corrupt system, [...] therefore, the urgency of a real political reform to which all parties have signed but without saying what kind of reform and when, this apathy is clear when we are one year away from a new electoral process in 2012, hence the lack of a real interest in carrying out such reform.

Enrique shares a couple of short posts with examples of citizenry in action, the first from Father Alejandro Solalinde [es] and the second [es] referencing the site of the Movement for Peace [es]. In another post [es] he also explains the important civic expression that resulted from the March for Peace and the National March led by the poet Javier Sicilia:

Hay muchas opiniones encontradas de lo que ha sido la discusión sobre el movimiento que encabeza Sicilia. Si bien ya han habido otros que le han precedido, cierto es que en esta ocasión el gran valor de Sicilia ha sido darle voz y cara a los caídos y a los dolidos. [...] Leía por ahí que alguien preguntaba irónicamente: ¿Dónde estuvo Sicilia durante cuatro años y medio en que la inseguridad no tocó su soberanía personal? Contestaba yo: En el mismo lugar donde hemos estado todos los demás que hemos tenido suerte de no ser afectados… [...] es evidente que la lejanía y desvinculación que tenemos los unos de los otros evita que este título (‘Todos somos Juárez') sea del todo cierto. Es ahí, en ese momento, cuando la movilización de Sicilia cobra la importancia que ha tenido. Nos ha vinculado, de forma muy dolorosa, al dolor de los otros; porque no estamos excentos como probablemente no pensó tampoco el poeta antes de la muerte dolorosa de su hijo.

There are many opinions around the discussion of the movement that Sicilia leads. Although there have been others who preceded him, it is true that this time the great value of Sicilia has been to give a voice and face to the fallen and to the hurt. [...] I read that someone asked ironically: Where was Sicilia for the four years that insecurity did not touch his personal sovereignty? I answered: In the same place where all of us have been that have been lucky enough to not be affected…[...] it is evident that the distance and decoupling that we have prevents this title (“We are all Juarez”) from being true. It is then, in that moment, when the mobilization of Sicilia takes the importance it has had. It has linked us, very painfully, to the pain of others; because we are not exempt as the poet probably also didn't believe before the painful death of his son.

We conclude this sample of the Blog Carnival with another post by the prolific Enrique Figueroa, this time about hope [es] and the passivity or proactivity with which we can deal with things. A great theme to end with.

La esperanza debe de servirnos como motor para lo que queremos lograr, no como simple anhelo que evadimos cuando nos toca actuar y tomar al toro por los cuernos. [...] Eso sucede por ejemplo cuando abordamos el siempre difícil tema de la violencia en México. No todo se acabará con un cambio de presidente, que si bien está equivocado en su estrategia (la mejor muestra es el número de muertes acumuladas), [...] también hay muchos males que llevamos arrastrando desde hace muchos años. [...] Podemos esperar, esperar a que nuestras acciones tengan efecto, o simplemente esperar, esperar y esperar sin que nada cambie…

Hope should serve as a motor for what we want to achieve, no as a simple longing that we evade when it touches us to act and we take the bull by the horns. [...] This happens for example when we tackle the always difficult theme of violence in Mexico. Not everything ends with a change of president, who although is wrong in his strategy (the best example is the cumulative death toll), [...] there are also many ills that we carry, dragging them with us for many years. [...]We can hope, hope that our actions have an effect, or simply hope, hope and wait and nothing changes…

By Flickr user Tu Ciudad Mi Ciudad (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Flickr user Tu Ciudad Mi Ciudad (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

We are very thankful to all those that were excited about participating in this Carnival, taking time away from other activities (for something that was born so far away [es] from Mexico it wasn't so bad); also to those who supported us with the publicity, of who I would like to especially mention Pepe Flores of Vivir México for the interview [es] on the blog allowing us to reach more people, to Ernesto Priego of #SinLugar for the circulation [es] (and participation) on the site, and to the people of Mujeres Construyendo, who helped to promote [es] the event. Equally to the Twitter users who retweeted our call and the participating posts as they were published, above all @rabanovengador and @ernestopriego who until now maintain the hashtag #vocesmx. Thanks guys!

On the other hand a recognition for Adriana GutiérrezCati Restrepo, Indira Cornelio and Soraya Sacaan, the team of Global Voices in Spanish, who did their part so that everything would go well in this year's Carnival. But most of all thank you in advance to anyone who has time to read this post and each of the posts linked below, where you can see a series of very different blogs but all offering honest and relevant opinions on the topic. I highly recommend a walk through all of them, an actual sample of the Mexican blogosphere. Until the next festival!

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Editor's Note: For length and readability, we decided to post the usual summary of the Carnival in several parts. Here the firstsecond, third, and fourth, this is the fifth and final summary.

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