Mexi­co’s ‘ave­n­gers’ back­ed by pu­blic

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

MEXI­CO - It was still dark when four men boar­ded the pack­ed com­mu­ter bus hea­ding for Mexi­co Ci­ty and or­de­red the pas­sen­gers to hand over their va­lu­a­bles.

They gat­he­red up mo­bi­le pho­nes and wal­lets, but as they pre­pa­red to lea­ve near the to­wn of To­lu­ca, one pas­sen­ger stood up, drew a pistol and shot the four as­sai­lants, kil­ling their lea­der in­stant­ly. The three in­ju­red rob­bers stum­b­led off the bus, but the gun­man fol­lo­wed them out and shot them dead at the roads­i­de. Then he re­tur­ned to the bus, hand­ed back the pas­sen­gers’ be­lon­gings and dis­ap­pe­a­red in­to the dark­ness. Po­li­ce in Mexi­co sta­te, which wraps round the coun­try’s ca­pi­tal li­ke a hor­ses­hoe, ha­ve de­ploy­ed hund­reds of of­fi­cers in search of the so-cal­l­ed jus­ti­cie­ro – or ave­n­ger.

But ma­ny Mexi­cans – fed up with cri­me, cor­rup­ti­on and im­pu­ni­ty – took to so­ci­al me­dia to prai­se the uniden­ti­fied kil­ler. No­ne of the bus pas­sen­gers ha­ve of­fe­red in­for­ma­ti­on to po­li­ce, saying it was too dark to see him clear­ly.

The ca­se is just the la­test of a spa­te of vi­gi­lan­te kil­lings in Mexi­co: in sou­t­hern Ta­bas­co sta­te a taxi dri­ver shot dead two as­sai­lants trying to rob him. In the wes­tern sta­te of Gu­a­na­ju­a­to, a wit­ness to the ar­med rob­be­ry of a sea­food de­li­ve­ry dri­ver fol­lo­wed and shot at the two sus­pects fleeing on a mo­tor­cy­cle, in­ju­ring one of them, ac­cor­ding to lo­cal me­dia. Ge­ma San­ta­maría, a so­ci­o­lo­gist at the Au­to­no­mous Tech­no­lo­gi­cal In­sti­tu­te of Mexi­co, said that whi­le the coun­try has long been pla­gued by lyn­chings of sup­po­sed cri­mi­nals, in­di­vi­du­al vi­gi­lan­te mur­ders are a re­la­ti­ve­ly new de­vel­op­ment. “Pu­blic ap­pro­val of the jus­ti­cie­ro has to do with the deep dis­con­tent over how the jus­ti­ce sy­s­tem and se­cu­ri­ty ser­vi­ces work in Mexi­co,” she said

San­ta­maría said that sur­veys ha­ve shown about 46% of Mexi­cans ap­pro­ve of vi­gi­lan­te acts, whi­le so­me 80% ap­pro­ve of ‘hars­her pu­nish­ments’ to de­ter cri­me “even if that means po­li­ce abu­se”. One se­na­tor has even pro­po­sed loo­se­ning Mexi­co’s strict fire­arms laws to al­low pe­o­p­le to keep we­apons in their cars and bu­si­nes­ses. An esti­ma­ted 98% of cri­mes in Mexi­co go un­pu­nis­hed, whi­le the most re­cent sur­vey by the sta­te sta­tis­tics ser­vi­ce INGEI found 93% of cri­mes are not even re­por­ted.

So­me ob­ser­vers ex­pect the “ave­n­ger” trend to con­ti­nue, es­pe­ci­al­ly as sto­ries of or­di­na­ry ci­ti­zens me­ting out cru­de jus­ti­ce gain at­ten­ti­on on so­ci­al me­dia.

“Pe­o­p­le ha­ve less pa­ti­en­ce and ex­pect less from the govern­ment”, said Gerar­do Priego Tapía, a for­mer po­li­ti­ci­an now di­rec­ting an an­tikid­nap group in Ta­bas­co sta­te. “This is promp­ting pe­o­p­le to de­fend them­sel­ves and fight back.” (the­gu­ar­di­an)

Mem­bers of a vi­gi­lan­te group ar­rest a sus­pect in Para­cu­a­ro, Mi­cho­a­can. Ram­pant in­se­cu­ri­ty has led vi­gi­lan­te groups to spring up across ma­ny parts of Mexi­co in re­cent ye­ars. (Pho­to: reu­ters)

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