Friday, December 31, 2010

Michoacán and the PRD

Following the dramatic attacks by La Familia Michoacana on particular Dec. 8-10, and with the backdrop of the desafuero or removal of legislative immunity of the PRD deputy Julio Godoy Toscano, half-brother of Michoacán Governor Leonel Godoy, the PRD held an emergency conference of sorts in Morelia where the party closed ranks behind the governor. In what was named the Declaración de Michoacán, much of the top PRD leadership from all camps in the party in seven points reiterated its support for the fight against organized crime,  regardless of the party colors and, pointedly, family ties of those involved. At the same time, the party strongly backed Leonel Godoy, and again called for the federal government to "rethink the strategy" in its war on the drug gangs.

Notably, Michoacán was recently deemed by Mexico´s national human rights commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) to be the most insecure entity in the country, given the level of complaints filed with the CNDH: 265 (vs. 240 in Chihuahua), of which 130 against the defense ministry, 107 against the Federal police, and 21 against the attorney general´s office, mainly on issues such as illegal searches and cruel treatment of citizens.

I do not wish for a moment to downplay the possible human rights violations taking place in Michoacán, but there seems to me to be a bit of a dubious methodology in place here: The more complaints = more human rights violations.For onem the high number of complaints may merely reflect a more active civil society or, less benignly, a more organized campaign by La Familia to push citizens to lodge such complaints. After all, the group has organized plenty of "demonstrations" against the presence of the military and the federal police. Also, as La Jornada reports, many of the complaints were also lodged against entities such as IMSS and ISSTE. Yet most obvious of all: A claim that Michoacán is worse than Chihuahuha in terms of human rights violations should strike even the most casual observer of Mexico as utterly absurd. It is perhaps quite understandable that the PRD, through its Secretary General Hortensia Aragón, would recently warn against an "ambush" by the federal government against Michoacàn, a state where President Felipe Calderón, lest we forget, hopes to see his sister Luisa María elected governor in 2011.

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