Put A Finger In It

Reforma always has something arty lining the streets, be it painted cows (now long gone) or weird and wonderful benches (still there) or a whole load of anti crime posters (just arrived). Mexico has a crime problem.

There’s no denying that. There is a problem. Just how much of a problem it is, how it should be dealt with, and how it should be viewed from an international perspective is another, and often controversial, matter.

If you pay too much attention to Fox News, you’d believe the devil has opened shop on planet Earth, and decided to pitch his tent in Mexico. With consulates in Iraq and Afghanistan too, of course.  If you read a lot of blogs, then you might come to the conclusion that there’s nothing to worry about at all. That, for me, was an issue about a co-operative, multi author, blog called the Truth About Mexico, set up at the height of the bad press the country was receiving a couple of years ago.

I was invited to submit a story to the site, so I read through the contributions that had been posted at the time, and came to the conclusion that the content on this site bore little or no relation to the ‘truth’ about Mexico. It was just the opposite of Fox, and therefore, in principal, just as bad.

But I submitted a story anyway, on the basis that although it wasn’t a balanced site, it did provide ‘balance’ on a wider front. Watch Fox, read TTAM, and form an opinion somewhere in the middle. And you won’t be far wrong. Besides, I always have something to say, and if someone is going to be silly enough to provide me with a forum to say it, then I’ll do so. I didn’t rebel. I just wrote a positive, if brief, story. But I didn’t go so far as to put the Truth About Mexico badge on my blog.

But anyway, there is a problem. And the posters above, which I photographed today, and more of which can be seen on Flickr, are part of the campaign to reduce crime. They were, I thought, pretty creative and imaginative posters. And they get hammer a few points right on the head of the nail. For a start, the Transparent Policeman poster. When a crime is happening, the police sure do suddenly become invisible. Unless they’re the ones robbing you. Although, actually, that might not be the point they’re trying to make.

One of the primary themes though, is the responsibility that the general population must take on in the fight against crime. But preferably by informing the police, rather than lynching the suspects. Except when they do inform the police, the crims seem to often get away with it. Oh what a vicious Catch 22 situation. It is easy to just walk away from a crime when you see one. I’ve done it. It’s also easy to just accept crime as a part of life when it happens to you, and not report it to the police. Yep, I’ve done that too.

I have no instant fail safe solution. The best I can offer is that the authorities need to just keep plugging away, and gain public confidence little by little. They need to make the interactions between police and public quicker, easier, less threatening. And perhaps, just perhaps, things will improve. Having said that, it must be said that things have improved over the last decade. Considerably so. So there is reason for optimism as well as room for improvement.

There’s no reason, in my opinion, for crime to put anyone off visiting Mexico. Unless you were planning to spend a week in Ciudad Juarez or one of the other delightful border towns up north. In which case, just rent some movies and stay at home. But this post has been about normal crime, not drug crime, which doesn’t feature a lot in Mexico City, especially in the tourist areas.

My last comment. I like the poster below, which os the logo for the campaign. I’ve seen versions of it knocking around for quite a while. But it wouldn’t work in the UK. Put that poster up across London, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow and I guarantee that within days the first casualty will enter a hospital. Robber will point gun. Would be victim will put finger in gun barrel, declaring he knows just how to deal with this situation….bang. One finger and skull cocktail on its way to the Emergency Dept.

Contra La Delincuencia


4 thoughts on “Put A Finger In It

  1. Kim G says:

    Seems like a typical Mexican solution. Print a bunch of pretty posters and give the impression that you’re doing something.

    Meanwhile, the heavy lifting goes undone. You know, police review boards, process change, rotating officers, putting undercover cops on the combis, raising officer pay, enhancing training and professionalism, setting up sting operations to catch the ones taking mordidas, making it easy to file a crime report, auditing crime reports to see if they’ve been followed up on, etc.

    My friends in DF who’ve been victims of crime have all explained that the process of reporting the crime is at least as trying as suffering the crime itself. Changing that little fact would be a good first step. And worth a heck of a lot more than a bunch of arty posters on Reforma.

    Oh yeah, and overhauling the rickety justice system. That would help too.

    So the posters are nice, but I’d like to see some more substantive changes.

    Meanwhile, the above notwithstanding, I feel pretty safe in DF. But the sheer firepower and brazenness of the narco gangs unnerves me even if they aren’t yet much in evidence in DF.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the police are overall quite professional and the crime rate is pleasingly low


    • It’s just so hard to think of a genuinely practical and effective solution. Back in early 2006, I had a class of about 20 students. I split them into several groups and got them to pretend they were campaigning for the presidency, and to come up with a manifesto.

      One group solved congestion, pollution, crime and corruption in one fell swoop. Load all of the police and politicians into the microbuses, and drive them to Guatemala.

      What they had against Guatemala I never did establish though….


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