Mexico’s presidential candidates sign Catholic Church’s ‘Commitment to Peace’ initiative — By: Catholic News Agency

Mexican presidential candidates Jorge Álvarez Máynez, Xóchitl Gálvez, and Claudia Sheinbaum each signed the “National Commitment to Peace.” / Credit: Society of Jesus

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 13, 2024 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

The three candidates running for president of Mexico met in the country’s capital March 11 to sign the National Commitment to Peace, an initiative proposed by the Catholic Church to address growing violence in the nation.

This initiative is a result of the National Dialogue for Peace, which took place in September 2023, organized by the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Society of Jesus, and the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico.

Signing the commitment were Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the Citizen Movement party; Xóchitl Gálvez of the opposition National Action Party (PAN) and a candidate of the electoral coalition Broad Front for Mexico; and Claudia Sheinbaum, a member of the ruling Morena party (founded by current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador) who heads the electoral coalition Together We Make History.

The signing took place in the context of the upcoming June 2 elections in which Mexicans will elect the next president and new federal representatives and senators, as well as the governors of nine states, state legislators, and presidents of municipalities.

According to the National Electoral Institute, this election is “the largest that Mexico has ever had.”

Proposals of the National Commitment to Peace

The National Commitment to Peace consists of seven key actions aimed at improving security and strengthening the nation: the social fabric, security, justice, prisons, adolescents, governance, and human rights.

Among the proposed measures is the development of “care policies” aimed at “building and strengthening the social fabric” as well as the strengthening of local law enforcement in order to allow “the gradual withdrawal of the military from public security functions.”

The document also advocates for the renewal of the justice system so that there is “the ability to conduct investigations and the autonomy to resolve cases.” It also calls for making “thorough reform of the prison system” a priority.

Regarding the prevention of problems related to adolescence, such as “addiction, organized crime, and illicit economies,” the Catholic Church proposes a strategy with an assigned budget to strengthen young people’s “security and well-being.”

The document also seeks to promote “democratic governance that protects local governments” from the influence of “crime-based economies,” and emphasis is placed on addressing the country’s human rights crisis, prioritizing the search for “disappeared” persons, eliminating violence against women, and protecting migrants and the autonomy of Indigenous peoples.

What did the candidates say?

Jorge Álvarez

The candidate presented the five points that make up his National Pacification Plan with which he seeks to significantly reduce the levels of violence in Mexico if elected president.

With regard to the fight against drug trafficking, Álvarez proposed “ending the prohibition” of drugs.

The presidential hopeful stated that the money coming from the regulation of the drug market could be used to finance social spending: “One of the sources of income must be the regulation of the drug market. The fact that it’s a black market does not contribute anything to the state’s ability to combat it.”

Xochitl Gálvez

The representative of the coalition formed by the National Action Party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and the Democratic Revolutionary Party highlighted several key points during the signing of the commitment. First of all, she emphasized the need to improve working conditions.

Gálvez also spoke out in favor of “consolidating a system of civic justice, using technology and intelligence.” She also advocated “for a great national agreement and building a solid social fabric.”

The candidate also highlighted the need to renew the Mexican prison system “in such a way that prisons are true centers of social rehabilitation and not schools for criminals.”

Claudia Sheinbaum

The Morena party candidate rejected the claim that “fear, helplessness, distrust, and uncertainty prevail.”

Contrary to what the document indicates, Sheinbaum denied there has been an increase in common crime.

The candidate signed the commitment “with the understanding that there is a joint vision of building peace”; however, she indicated that “there are various statements and proposals with which I do not agree.”

Current situation in Mexico

Since Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office as president on Dec. 1, 2018, there have been 181,344 homicides recorded, according to the report “MX: La Guerra en Números” (“Mexico: The War in Numbers”), prepared by the T-Research MX agency.

Of the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2023, 16 were in Mexico, according to the list compiled by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice. At the top of the list was Colima, the capital of Colima state on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Based on documents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the 2022 report “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations” by the U.S. Congressional Research Service identifies nine “main” cartels operating in Mexico: Tijuana/Arellano Félix, Sinaloa, Juárez/Carrillo Fuentes, Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas and the Noreste Cartel, Beltrán Leyva, La Familia Michoacana, Los Rojos, and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

However, the report acknowledges, crime gangs in Mexico are more fragmented and more competitive than they were 10 to 20 years ago. Some of the smaller gangs “exert major influence for a few years and then disappear.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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