MEXICO CITY – Drug traffickers exert influence over 71 percent of Mexico’s 2,439 municipal governments and completely control 195 of them, a Senate committee said.
“In the majority of Mexican municipalities there exists a criminal structure capable of controlling the business of organized crime, retail narcotics sales, the cultivation and trafficking of drugs, kidnapping and extortion,” according to the document from the Senate panel on municipal development.
Criminal groups find it easy to dominate municipalities because local administrations are chronically short of money and suffer from neglect on the part of the state and federal governments, the committee chairman, Sen. Ramon Galindo, said.
The gangs operate “under the shelter of corruption, politically protected and with logistical support from municipal police,” the report says.
Mexico needs to craft policies aimed at fortifying local governments so they can resist criminal outfits, Galindo said, while mayors and town councilors must “cease being decorative figures” and become genuine representatives of their constituents.
Another pressing requirement is providing protection to local officials, the senator said, pointing out that 41 current, former and aspiring municipal officeholders have been killed in the last three years.
The all-out war on drugs launched in December 2006 by President Felipe Calderon looks set to last a long time unless the government tackles Mexico’s severe economic and social problems, Galindo said. EFE