In September, 43 “Normalistas,” students studying to be teachers, in Iguala, Guerrero State, Mexico disappeared. They are now presumed to have been murdered. They were kidnapped by municipal police and handed over to “Guerreros Unidos,” the local organized-crime executioners. The response to these kidnappings and presumed murders has been widespread protests in Mexico City and a new plan to reform Mexico’s security from President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Pena Nieto’s plan, presented on November 27 (some two months after the disappearances in question), begins with dissolving the 1800-odd municipal police forces in Mexico, and bringing their areas of responsibility under the 32 state police commands. This is in keeping with the earlier embrace of the Michoacan autodefensas into the official Rurales irregulars. Pena Nieto appears to be attempting to pursue a policy of centralization when it comes to Mexico’s internal security.
However, Pena Nieto is already extremely unpopular with the Mexican people and, in fact, the rest of the Mexican government. While federal troops have moved into Guerrero and Michoacan to take over from municipal police forces as of December 4, Mexico’s Congress has yet to pass any of Pena Nieto’s 10-point plan, which, along with the “mando unico” centralization plan, also addressed social and economic reforms in the poorer states of Guerrero and Michoacan. Given Pena Nieto’s unpopularity, the proposal may be dead on arrival.
Protests in Mexico City have been going on for two months, fueled by the disappearances of the 43, and largely led, at least symbolically, by the parents of the missing students. Calls for Pena Nieto’s resignation are foremost, along with appeals to the memory of protestors killed by government security forces under Pena Nieto, both as President, and as governor of the State of Mexico.