Impunity in Mexico Comes with a High Price, and We All Pay It
• The lack of rightful punishment for crimes committed in this country is addressed by researchers from ITESO, Guadalajara, and the organization Creatura, in a report that shines a light on the human, material and economic losses caused by this problem.
There's no disputing it: crimes that go unpunished by Mexico's criminal justice institutions have engendered more crimes and more violence in the country, at a level that has not been seen perhaps since the Mexican Revolution. These and other certainties appear in the results of the report "Costs of Impunity," which was coordinated by researchers from ITESO and Critical Thinking Advocates (Creatura), an international consulting firm that specializes in researching and documenting processes with a significant social impact.
The lack of punishment, called impunity, and it generates huge human, material and economic losses. Impunity and violence mean that people are murdered, disappeared, and forced to flee their homes throughout Mexico. This last phenomenon tears at the social fabric and leaves gaps in the accumulated knowledge that communities share, explains Dr. Alejandro Anaya, coordinator of the report at ITESO, professor in the Department of Sociopolitical and Legal Studies and coordinator of the university's Master's Degree Program in Human Rights and Peace.
Based on national census and survey results, international reports, testimonies and their own cross-referencing, the authors of "Costs of Impunity" look at three types of crimes and the resulting human rights violations that have a grim impact on society: murders, disappearances and forced displacements, the last of which have remained virtually invisible in official surveys and other reports.
In the earliest planning stages the decision was made to write the report not for politicians and powerful decision-makers, but for ordinary citizens; as a result it is easy to consult, and features graphics, videos, life stories and articles.
According to the report, in 2016 Mexico registered the 58th-worst score on the impunity index out of 59 countries around the world; in 2017 it came in 66th place out of 69. In both periods it had the worst score in the Americas.
In all the states in the country, including Jalisco, over 90 per cent of crimes go unpunished.
These are just some of the reasons that between 2006 and 2017 more than 200 thousand Mexicans were murdered and at least 30 thousand disappeared; 330 thousand have been displaced from their homes. Without impunity, these last figures would be lower, even given the current empowerment of organized crime groups.
And that's not all: the report points out that impunity also impacts public spending— paid for by citizens— as well as personal assets, although these were not included in the study.
For example, between 2015 and 2018, the federal government's Executive Commission for Attention of Victims has paid 360 million pesos to some 700 victims of crime and human rights violations in Mexico.
This is a small amount compared to the actual figures. If the government were to pay reparations to the victims of the 4700 disappearances registered in 2016 and the almost 29 thousand homicides that occurred in 2017, it would disburse a total close to 17 billion pesos, just under the original estimated budget for Line 3 of Guadalajara's Light Rail.
Alejandro Anaya explained that the "Costs of Impunity" report combines information from four different but related research papers published in 2018 by the academics Luis Daniel Vázquez, Laura Rubio, Eva Arceo and Óscar Cruz, who work at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Flacso), the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE).
What's the purpose of such a pessimistic document? It aims to make a modest contribution so that everyday citizens can have information that will enable them to discuss the issue, to organize and demand that impunity be given a high priority on the public agenda, also so that authorities realize that their constituents care a great deal about this issue and they start to deal with it in a way that produces results.
The report's social network links are @CostosImpunidad on Twitter, and @costosimpunidad on Facebook.