Mexican President Under Fire Over Violent Crime Wave

By Mark Browne | October 6, 2016 | 7:41 PM EDT

Mexican soldiers and federal police in Michoacan state. (AP Photo, File)

Mexico City (CNSNews.com) – Violent crime has overwhelmed Mexico’s government, poisoned the public’s trust in its institutions and threatens the guarantee of basic human rights across the country, opposition leaders charged this week, calling for a reset in the government’s domestic security policies.

“At the start of his term, President Enrique Peña Nieto offered a new anti-crime strategy but it hasn’t produced any results,” Senator Fernando Herrera Ávila of the PAN opposition party said in a statement later posted on the party’s website.

“The government’s actions against crime and violence lack vision, intelligence, strategy, prevention and coordination.”

Crime has “overtaken,” the government’s ability to deal with it, Herrera said. Citing criminal attacks on the military and oil installations, he accused the government of being “ineffective,” and “shiftless.”

PRD party Senator Miguel Barbosa Huerta issued a similar statement, saying that crime in Mexico is damaging trust in the country’s institutions that won’t be easily restored.

Collusion between security forces, the military and criminals, “undermines the performance of institutions and calls into question the possibility that Mexico can guarantee human rights,” he said.

José Antonio Ortega, president of the citizen watchdog group Security, Justice and Peace, says that impunity, corruption and the “cooperation of some authorities with the criminals,” is responsible for the violence.

“In some parts of country the situation is critical, such as in the states of Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Puebla, the state of Mexico, Veracruz, and Michoacán. The violence has overtaken the state and municipal authorities,” Ortega said in an interview.

The government, he said, needs to solve crimes rather than arresting “patsies.”

As reported by CNSNews.com, a study by the politics and policy analysis center Mexico Evalua found that while the annual homicide rate in Mexico has gone down since its peak of 22,781 in 2011, the rate is increasing in states that have traditionally had the lowest rates in the country.

“Violence is moving from more violent areas to areas with a history of less violence,” said Jonathan Furszyfer, an investigator at the Justice and Crime Program at Mexico Evalua.

“What we are seeing is that murders in various states have gone up dramatically, showing violence is becoming more widespread,” he noted.

The recent murder of two foreigners living in Mexico has brought renewed international attention to the threat of kidnapping, especially crimes involving cabs and private transit services.

Maria Villar, a Spanish IBM employee living in Mexico with her Brazilian husband, was kidnapped and murdered after boarding a taxi in front of a shopping mall in an upscale part of Mexico City on Sept. 13.

Villar was the niece of the president of the Spanish Football Federation, and the crime received extensive coverage in her home country.

Her family, working with authorities from Spain, reportedly paid less than the demanded ransom. Her body was found on Sept. 15 in a drainage ditch on the outskirts of the city, with hands and feet bound and a plastic bag over her head, according to the capital’s El Universal daily

Authorities have arrested one suspect and are seeking two others.

Police said Villar was tazered and handcuffed after one of the two suspects entered the taxi, and that she had been murdered by an amateur but “extremely violent” criminal group, the Spanish newspaper El País reported.

On Sept. 30 Canadian artist and photographer Barbara McClatchie Andrews, 74, was murdered and her body tossed on the side of the Cancún-Mérida highway in the Yucatan. She had earlier boarded an airport van at Cancún International Airport, bound for her home in Merida after returning from a trip to Canada.

Mexico News Daily reported that authorities have accused the van’s driver of the murder.

The violence in Mexico has touched the Catholic Church as well, with at least 15 priests murdered over the past four years. According to the Catholic Reporter, the Catholic Multimedia Center has recorded the killings of 31 priests in Mexico since 2006.