Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Chávez Chávez

The opposition to Arturo Chávez Chávez being confirmed as attorney general falls into one of two categories: that based on his long track record as a PAN activist and his relatively light CV; and opposition stemming from his role as Chihuahua attorney general during the investigation into the femicides in Ciudad Juárez.

It seems like Mexico's press could perhaps be doing a better job examining the latter complaint. It's not entirely clear to me what is the source of the anti-Chávez Chávez sentiment. This article, which goes much further than most, says that Chávez Chávez helped to set up a patsy, which could mean a lot of things. It also says:
Both the women’s and men’s murder investigations were characterized by indifference, irregularities, lost files and evidence, threats against victims’ family members, and no credible prosecutions, in spite of credible leads.

In 1998, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued its Recommendation #44/98 that held Chavez and other Chihuahua state officials responsible for bungling the femicide investigations. Later probes by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, the United Nations and others reached similar conclusions.
Again, that's all damaging and infuriating, but it's not clear if Chávez Chávez is being singled out for singular incompetence, or if it's more a matter of being an important part of an incompetent whole. A lot of the principled opposition to Chávez Chávez seems to come from the mere fact that he headed an office that failed to carry out a competent investigation of a horrible series of crimes and bring the culprits to justice. That's an entirely legitimate complaint, and I think it'd be a fair reason for rejecting his confirmation. It would also have the salutary effect of establishing a more exacting precedent for officials who preside over disasters, even if they aren't acting maliciously or aren't directly responsible. At the same time, if Chávez Chávez is merely a symbol for rather than a cause of all that went wrong in the femicide investigations, I think that needs to be weighed against all that went right in Chihuahua during his tenure (i.e. violence in the region decreased from the late 1990s to the early oughts). Whatever the case, it'd be nice if the contours of the debate were a little clearer.


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