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[PUBLIC] Barney Fife State - The Cover Story
October 2013
 
 
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Fri, Sep. 12th, 2008 08:46 am
[PUBLIC] Barney Fife State

A few years back, there was a movie. That movie had as one of its more famous quotations, "People should not be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of its people." I always thought there was a certain logic to this statement, but spending some time in Mexico has made me wonder. Specifically, about the law enforcement arm of the government, which if I recall correctly, was somewhere near where this quote was pointed.

Mexico's police force is technically a government agency, but receives fairly minimal funding. As a result, its fairly common for an individual in Mexico City or the surrounding areas to be stopped by police and cited for some violation, real or not, and made to pay in cash, on the spot, without documentation. I've talked to a few of our consultants who have spent considerable time in Mexico, and they've almost all had this type of encounter with the local police, but apparently it is accepted behavior. The people I spoke to, at least, acknowledge the police are underpaid and this is how they make ends meet.

Meanwhile, I've personally witnessed petty theft, obvious corruption, and flat-out bribery off officials in sight and hearing distance of an otherwise idle officer, with no response. When I did some research, I discovered that homocide against police officers is a real problem in Mexico, and the perpetrators often go uncaught. Say what you will about US police forces, but they go after cop killers with an unholy passion. Apparently there's no similar sentiment in the law enforcement arm of Mexico, with the exception of the PFP, who look like they just stepped out of Deus Ex.

It occurs to me that having a weak police force is at least as bad as having an overzealous one. I understand the dangers of having an overempowered law enforcement agency, but now I'm also very worried about what happens when they lose too much of their power.

Tags: , , ,
Current Location: Mexico City, DF, Mexico
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

3CommentReply

mariaklob
That gorgeous vixen
Fri, Sep. 12th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)

I really wonder whether anybody will dig up the funding for regional militias in Mexico. It seems like the best-funded and armed organizations are the drug cartels, and that's just not okay.

Actually giving the police force some teeth would be nice, too.

Americans are used to the cultural notions that cop-killers are scum and bribery is not acceptable. I'm not sure how we got that way, and I don't know how other countries could get to be that way.


ReplyThread
pezzonovante
pezzonovante
pezzonovante
Fri, Sep. 12th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)

Sounds to me like the Laffer Curve of law enforcement.


ReplyThread
that_xmas
that_xmas
The Béseme Bandito
Sat, Sep. 13th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)

Are the PFP those guys with the the leg armor and the assault rifles you see here and there?

Those where my favorite. Did you drive around the Presidential Palace at all? They have anti-riot fences hanging around so they can quickly close off the streets.


ReplyThread