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After a brutal rape case in Acapulco shook Mexico on February 4, President Pena Nieto has pledged to create a new militarized police force to ensure the safety of locals and tourists in the popular holiday resort.
The case, involving six Spanish women who were raped in a rented beach house by masked gunmen, was astonishing even for Guerrero, with its high level of crime. Only one woman managed to avoid assault by saying that she was Mexican. According to Fox News, it is yet to be confirmed if the Spaniards were targeted because of their nationality. The UK newspaper The Guardian said “Mexican local authorities determine if organised criminal are behind an attack, and, if so, pass the case to federal authorities.”
Up until now, however, the government did very little to help the victims. Acapulco Major Luis Walt downplayed the crime, saying “It could have happened anywhere in the world.” Even though Walt later apologized for his comment, it looks like he was more concerned about the image of Acapulco rather than the raped women.
Freelance writer Phillippe Diederich pointed out “It is too easy for six Spanish women, or 60,000 dead Mexicans to become a statistic used by politicians and the media… Governments need to allocate resources toward prevention, security, victim advocacy and education about violent crimes against women.”
President Pena Nieto has continuously underlined the importance of the security problem. Right after his election in December, the President communicated a plan to strengthen security by dividing the country into five security regions and improve the coordination of law enforcement In addition, the President committed to switching the focus from punishing crime to preventing it. It was obvious that the implementation of measures could not be done in a few months; however, the issue is now how much time it will take and how many people will become the victims before results are achieved. Pena Nieto claims that the government is working to improve the conditions for public security, but he has not provides any time frame.
On February 12, the government announced its second anti-crime plan. Focusing on the 251 most violent towns, $9.2 billion will be spent on preventing young people from joining criminal organizations. The measures include improving health and social services, creating additional jobs and increasing the number of schools. The following day, Pena claimed that the tourism policy can only be successful when the measures of security are implemented. The National Tourism Policy for 2013-2018, presented on February 13, includes four directions: legislative and sectoral transformation, development and promotion; and sustainability and social well-being.
Does it mean that tourists have to wait until after the policy has been implemented to visit Mexico? Choosing the right state can be an alternative solution. According to the Economist, Yucatán, with its famous resorts Cancun and Riviera Maya, is as safe as Finland. Oaxaca, Veracruz and Pueblo also exhibit low levels of crime, while Guerrero, with its capital Acapulco, remains one of the most dangerous, with a murder rate of more than 2100 people per year.
In addition to increasing expenditures on security, Pena Nieto promised to create a comprehensive security environment and grow confidence for travelers in the country by working on infrastracture and improving medical services.
Image Courtesy : World Economic Forum