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Federal forces deployed to Zacatecas in late November after a wave of violence in the state. Federal forces deployed to Zacatecas in late November after a wave of violence in the state.

Mexico’s security strategy draws criticism at forum in Europe

Federal forces are reacting to violence rather than preventing it, one expert said

The federal government’s security strategy has come under fire at a virtual forum organized by four organized crime research organizations.

Among the issues that drew criticism were continuation of the militarized security strategy of the two previous governments and a failure to address policing at the local level.

Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, the cofounder of Noria Research, an organization that studies international affairs and conflict, criticized the government of President López Obrador for its perpetuation of the controversial military strategy.

Le Cour, also program director for public security and violence reduction at the think tank México Evalúa, told the forum – The Politics of Violence in Mexico and Central America – that federal security forces are reacting to violence rather than being proactive and preventing it from occurring in the first place.

He cited Zacatecas as an example, noting that the government deployed additional troops to the northern state after a recent wave of violence that included the discovery of nine bodies hanging from a highway overpass.

Le Cour said the violence problem is complex and requires a strategy beyond deploying the military in a reactive way.

However, it is not the goal of anyone in Mexico – including public, private, criminal and state actors – to end violence, he said.

“No one, unfortunately, in those areas today is fundamentally interested in making violence disappear because violence is a very central political resource,” Le Cour said.

“So when violence is such a political resource and when violence is so functional in the political system, how can you actually make it disappear?”

Sandra Ley, a politics professor at Mexico City’s Center for Research and Teaching in Economics, criticized the federal government for not building the capacity of security forces at a municipal level. There is too much focus on solving the violence problem with a top-down approach, she said.

The forum, part of a 24-hour conference on global organized crime held last week, was hosted by the Netherlands’ Center for Information and Research on Organized Crime, the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime, the Standing Group on Organized Crime and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

With reports from El Universal 

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