Election Countdown: Contrasting visions for a safer and fairer Mexico

irina justicia
© From left to right, up to down: Diego Sanchez de Pexels; Claudia Sheinbuam Photo: EFE; Jorge Maynez Photo: AP; Xóchitl Gálvez Photo: Reuters; Gobierno de México; Cuartoscuro

Insecurity and violence represent the greatest reasons of concern among Mexicans, with 61% of the population considering unsafe to live in their city and 101 homicides recorded on the past April 17. Therefore, issues of justice and security are central in the campaigns of the presidential candidates. Citizens demand concrete solutions and decisive actions and, as could be expected, the three candidates promise a safer, fairer Mexico that guarantees the human rights of all its inhabitants. However, their approaches to achieving these ideals are quite different.

Mexico: the Nation Project

Claudia Sheinbaum speaks of a ¨safe and just republic¨. A central part of her project is the National Guard, institution to which capabilities and powers she plans to expand so they can act as first responders and collaborate closely with prosecutors' offices in the fight against impunity. Sheinbaum also seeks to promote the judicial reform presented by the current president, which involves subjecting the positions of ministers, magistrates and judges to popular election. This proposal is also supported by Arturo Zaldívar, former minister of the Supreme Court (SCJN), who last year resigned from his position in order to join Sheinbaum's campaign team and was accused of corruption.

In short, a crucial aspect of this reform would be the changes to the Judicial Branch of the Federation, which would imply the restructuring and division of the Federal Judiciary Council into a Judicial Administration Body and a Judicial Disciplinary Court, both completely independent of the Supreme Court. Court. This reorganization promoted by AMLO implies transferring several faculties that are currently in the hands of the SCJN to these two new institutions.

Mexico without Fear

In contrast, Xóchitl Gálvez presents as her main proposal to withdraw the armed forces from civilian functions and redirect them in the fight against organized crime, since she considers them crucial to guarantee security in the country. In line with this strategy, one of her objectives is the construction of a maximum-security prison with advanced technology to confront organized crime.

Regarding institutions, Gálvez proposes the creation of a Ministry of Justice of the Federal Executive Branch to combat the main obstacles to judicial processes. She claims that during her term, preventive detention agreements would be reformulated according to international standards, to avoid their use as a tool of persecution. In addition, all personnel of the Judiciary and the Prosecutor's Offices would be properly trained and oriented towards comprehensive care for victims.

Mexico with Justice

Jorge Máynez proposes to stop the militarization of the country and avoid the participation of the armed forces in public administration´s tasks. In terms of security, another of his proposals is to guarantee the autonomy of the Judiciary and reform the prosecutor's offices in order to recruit personnel based on their career and professional merits.

Máynez promises an approach to social reintegration through a national system that can offer support to people in the reintegration process as well as those seeking to leave organized crime. He states that his approach to citizen security will be based on human rights and will adopt a gender perspective.

An uncertain road

There is no coincidence that the biggest differences between the proposals are related to the National Guard and the Supreme Court of Justice. In a context where the militarization of the country has become one of the greatest concerns of the citizens, one of the main responsibilities of the next president will be to comply with the constitutional mandate and return the operational and administrative control of the National Guard to the public security sector. In this sense, as well as in aspects such as the annulment of the transfer of the National Guard to SEDENA (The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense) or the electoral reform, the SCJN has served as a counterweight to the current government.

Regarding the current situation of the SCJN, there is speculation of a possible “capture” of the highest jurisdictional authority of the Judicial Branch by the ruling party. This scenario depends on the possibility that AMLO achieves, before leaving office, the appointment of a fourth minister related to his administration. Since the SCJN's legitimacy does not come from the ballot box, such a drastic change, especially with a weakened National Electoral Institute, could have a significant impact on public opinion.

Regardless of whether the next six-year term will bring popular elections or continuity with new appointments to the SCJN, the result of these presidential elections will dictate the future of the judicial system and the direction of the country in terms of the separation of powers and the checks and balances system.

These justice and security proposals are presented in an electoral campaign that, with more than 170 attacks against politicians, is already the most violent in the modern history of Mexico. This electoral contest not only renews the Presidency, but also the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the governorships of nine states. Multiple attacks against candidates are registered daily throughout the country, with murder being the most common crime, followed by threats and attacks. This situation highlights the urgent need to address the security and justice challenges in Mexico, as well as a firm commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law, highlighting the importance of elections in determining the future of the country in these fundamental aspects.

Although each candidate adopts different approaches, they all converge on the need to strengthen the judicial system and guarantee the security of citizens. However, the promise of a safer and fairer Mexico depends largely on the next government's ability to implement effective policies that guarantee citizen security. This involves strengthening judicial independence, reforming security institutions and adopting innovative approaches to combat organized crime. However, significant challenges remain, such as the militarization of the country and the possible politicization of the SCJN, which are critical aspects that require urgent attention to ensure a transparent and effective judicial system. Therefore, these upcoming elections will undoubtedly define the course of justice and security in Mexico.