Feb. 19, 2022
Mexico is a nation scourged by violence. The past 12 years have left an enormous scar on the face of our country, a mark that cannot be forgotten and that should symbolize our commitment to never allow such devastating attacks against human dignity as those suffered by the Mexican people to be repeated in the future. The path toward leaving this tragic episode in the past will not be easy and will require the commitment of all sections of society. Fortunately, in the pursuit of vindication and the achievement of peace, we have on our side the powerful tool of transitional justice.
Two six-year terms of clinging to a failing security strategy has deeply hurt the country. The ravages of violence and grievous human rights violations cannot be remedied quickly or easily. If what is needed is national reconciliation and the construction of an equitable, peaceful, and democratic environment, the Mexican state will have to take into account truth, justice, the memory of what happened, the reparation of the damages suffered by the victims of the so-called “War on Drugs," and the guarantees that similar catastrophes will never be repeated.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, since the beginning of his government, has sought to break with previous schemes, starting with those that prevailed in the administration of Felipe Calderón and the failed war against organized crime, which unfortunately was maintained by Enrique Peña's administration. He is convinced that pacification is what this country needs and what the victims deserve. “If we do not successfully pacify Mexico, no matter how much has been done, history will not credit our government," he recently emphasized in one of his morning conferences.
It is time to install, once and for all, the processes that will build the peace accords that our country is so desperate for. A schedule should be agreed on that considers the specific characteristics of each territory and the specific consequences suffered by the population because of cartel rivalries.
From the beginning of these processes, a drastic reduction in pernicious, high-impact crimes has been recorded. Robbery, extortion, kidnapping, disappearance, and human trafficking, crimes that have become the specialty of organized gangs, will have to cease in order to generate the conditions that favor the establishment of dialogue.
It is important to emphasize that there should be no room for impunity. However, factors like poverty and a lack of opportunity must be considered as factors that have led to people's involvement in and perpetration of criminal activities.
Another element of enormous relevance is the willingness of those who have been involved in these crimes to acknowledge their crimes before society. Nothing is more valuable than the truth, and this is the only way to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Therefore, the requirement that perpetrators to be tried under a special jurisdiction for peace will allow the recognition of the crimes committed, the reparation of victims, and a commitment to testify in the standard jurisdiction if necessary.
Reparation has traditionally been seen as a possibility to return victims to the conditions they lived in before the conflict began. However, in the case of Mexico, many of the victims of violence, disappearances, and displacement were already living in conditions of profound inequality. Being returned to that state would mean that their rights would continue to be violated, so it is important that the reparation component be applied with distributive justice in mind, which will support a more equitable future where there is no place for poverty.
Finally, it is essential to implement a series of measures to prevent human rights violations from being repeated in the future for the sake of the victims and their communities. These actions must go beyond the institutions involved in the conflict to encompass development, education, and the promotion of culture, all of which are fundamental to preventing history from repeating itself.