Monday, April 11, 2011

More on the Protests

Jorge Chabat makes a couple of really good points in his most recent column:
What is most striking is that the letter from Sicilia, stemming from the lamentable murder of his son and various others, is that it is directed to "politicians and criminals", perhaps because the author assumes that the action of the politicians is not sufficient. Perhaps for the same reason the Diario de Juárez a few months ago made its public call to the criminals so that they would tell them what they wanted so as to stop killing their reporters. In other words, the society intuits that the state is no longer a trustworthy interlocutor and that you have to talk with the criminals, to see if the situation improves that way. That tells us the size of the crisis in the country. The only interlocutor should be the state.
What is needed is to channel the discontent to more concrete steps. The disaffection with the political system should carry us to establish mechanisms for accountability and carrots and sticks for the political class, such as the possibility of the immediate reelection. That is a concrete proposal. Along those lines, the protests against violence should concentrate on improving the Mexican state: pressing so that all the police in the country are certified, so that the judicial reform is implemented, so that protocols are established for the use force for all the force tasked with combating organized crime and therefore human rights abuses are avoided.

Protests have to be anchored to concrete measures. Only then will the ire and indignation of the citizens not evaporate...
This last bit is what is most flawed with the recent demonstrations. Part of this is just a function of the problem: many protest-inducing issues (second-class citizenship of African-Americans, the recent Mubarak protests) have relatively simple solutions. Crime in Mexico, unfortunately, does not, so using the anger to engineer a specific response is tough. But it's also a function of this particular spate of demonstrations. I have criticized the agreement that eventually resulted from Iluminemos México for a similar though not as severe ignorance of concrete goals, but the fact that the leaders actually had something approaching a policy change in mind is admirable. In contrast, this latest wave seems much more a roar in a vacuum. The emotion is genuine and justified, but is likely to be more limited in its impact.

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