Four of the five states registering the heftiest increases in violence in 2017 are not governed by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), José Antonio Meade, the party’s nominee for president, pointed out during his first visit to Guadalajara at the end of last month.
Although the former finance secretary did not provide the names of these states, research shows Nayarit, Baja California Sur, Aguascalientes, Quintana Roo and Baja California to have had the steepest rises in homicides last year. All are governed by the National Action Party (PAN) or a coalition including the PAN. However, states with the highest number of murders per capita are Colima and Guerrero – both of which have PRI governors.
Meade will be acutely aware that his public security strategy and policies will be the most scrutinized part of his campaign. Data released this week shows that in 2107 Mexico experienced the highest homicide rate for two decades. This is considered one of President Enrique Peña’s biggest failings and Meade will need to build confidence in the electorate that he has the ability to rectify this trend.
In a meeting that drew party dignitaries and several hundred PRI militants to Guadalajara’s Parque Trasloma, Meade reiterated his support for the country’s polemic new Interior Security Law, which defines the role of the military in law enforcement duties.
Criticized by many as a first step towards a militarized state, Meade said the law gives clarity as to when and how the armed forces can assist the population in law-enforcement situations.
Meade’s backing for a law that has the approval of both houses of the Mexican Congress runs contrary to the views of many domestic and international human rights organizations and the country’s left wing. Nonetheless, he has the support of many ordinary Mexicans who have more confidence in the armed forces than the nation’s police agencies.