Mexico City shooting fuels anti-crime campaigns
June 30, 1999
From staff and wire reports
MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Anti-crime campaign messages gathered steam Wednesday in the race for the governor of Mexico state, a day after two members of President Ernesto Zedillo's security force were shot to death less than 500 meters from the presidential palace.
Authorities are still investigating the brazen attack by six gunmen on the elite security force, the latest in a wave of sensational crimes that have wracked Mexico City.
Last Monday, dozens of guns were stolen during an armed robbery of a Mexico City police station.
And three weeks ago, gunmen sprayed the car of popular TV personality Francisco "Paco" Stanley full of bullets in broad daylight on a busy street. Stanley died instantly with three bullets lodged in his skull, just outside the Mexico City studio where he worked.
Crime has become the top issue in a tight race for the governor of Mexico state, the most populous in the country. The election, to take place Sunday, is seen as a major barometer of voter sentiment ahead of July 2000 presidential elections.
The ruling party candidate wrapped up his campaign Wednesday with a controversial tough-on-crime stand that was bolstered by Tuesday's shooting.
Arturo Montiel of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has aired campaign ads in which he called criminals "rats" not worthy of human rights.
Montiel's ads were sharply criticized by human rights groups who noted torture remains a common police tool in Mexico.
"I'm not against human rights," Montiel told a news conference. "But it's not possible that delinquents, protected by human rights, commit so many crimes."
Rival candidate Jose Luis Duran of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) has said he will attack crime using tactics he has employed in the past two years as mayor of Naucalpan, a city in Mexico state that borders the capital.
"No to impunity, zero tolerance and, of course, better paid and trained police," Duran told a news conference.
According to a private security firm, about 2,000 criminal acts take place daily in the streets of Mexico City, but only 40-50 are investigated by authorities.
"The reward (for criminals) is tremendous," said David Bell of O-Gara-Kroll associates. "But the risk is really quite minimal."
In response to the increasing impunity of recent crimes, citizen groups have organized to pressure the government to increase Mexico's security.
Despite the highly charged political rhetoric, many remain unconvinced that the government takes crime seriously.
"If there were enough political will we wouldn't be facing a problem of this magnitude," insisted Guillermo Velazco of Mexicans United Against Crime. "There is no political will and there will be no political will because the government does not consider the crime wave an important topic."
Mexico arrests top drug cartel lieutenant
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