A serious drawback on Mexico’s development and a significant obstacle to Mexico achieving a functional democracy, the abuse of power hand in hand with corruption have long been a part of the country’s political culture. Because of that, Mexico has earned a privileged spot amongst the most corrupt countries not only in Latin America, but in the whole world. (Estevez, 2013)
Abuse of office can be carried out in many different forms, but an impacting issue is the military exploitation and impunity.
Mexico has relied heavily on the military to fight drug-related violence and organized crime, which led to widespread human rights violations by the personnel. As of July 2016, the CNDH (The National Human Rights Commission) has received almost 10,000 complaints of abuse by the army, many of them concerning serious human rights violations. (Human Rights Watch, 2017) In 2014, the Congress reformed the Code of Military Justice to require that abuses committed by members of the military force against the civilians be handled by civilian criminal justice system, which in most of the cases failed to hold the army accountable for the abuses.
(Human Rights Watch, 2017)
A famous case in Mexico, in which the abuse of power led to an unfortunate loss of 22 civilians, happened in 2014 and it is generally known as the “Tlatlaya incident”. The regrettable event took place on June 30, 2014 in San Pedro Limon, in the municipality of Tlatlaya where soldiers gunned down 22 civilians in a warehouse. It was initially described as a clash with a group of armed criminals who allegedly opened fire on an army patrol.
(Mexico News Daily, 2018) The details of what actually happened began to surface when the authorities found discrepancies at the crime scene, such as bullet holes in the internal walls of the warehouse at about chest level surrounded by blood. (Tuckman, 2015) A survivor of the attack, who first confessed anonymously, declared that it was a military massacre and that survivors were tortured in order to get them to back the official story when they were taken to the state of Mexico prosecutor’s office. (Tuckman, 2015) The CNDH later determined that between 12 and 15 of the victims did not die in a gunfight, as officials had stated, but were arbitrarily executed. (Mexico News Daily, 2018)
This example portraits the power that authorities have in Mexico to be able to play with human rights and get away with it, at least for some time. Even though a couple of shooters were later held responsible for their acts, justice was not served entirely. The head of the operation, who gave green light for shooting was not prosecuted, due to his high rank in the military and his years of serving the country. He made use of his power to get the CNDH to drop the charges against him, and also to not involve him in the official papers.
In Romania, my home country, corruption and the abuse of power are also alarming issues that threaten to slow down, or even stop the development of the country. One of the most recent and famous examples is the over-night laws instituted by the president of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies and the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea. Being charged and then found guilty for numerous crimes, such as bribery, abuse of power, falsifying documents, illegal use of European funds, and so on, Dragnea created and made official several laws that would absolve him of the punishment or it would decrease it. (Sirbu, 2018) They were created and implemented during the night in order to diminish the risk of being stopped. As an example, he was charged for bribery for receiving illegal funds of a total of 20.000 euros and was supposed to go to jail, when he created not one, but two laws to help him. One stated that the maximum amount of money that one person can receive without being charged of bribery is 20.000 euros, which would mean that he cannot be charged, and the second one revolved around the idea that writing a book, among other things, while in prison could decrease the sentence by up to 5 years. (Spanu, 2018) These are just a few of the examples that can be named while trying to explain the abuse of power in Romania.
Even though there is a significant difference between Dragnea, who made use of his power for monetary reasons, and then made use of his power again to help him not get charged, and the military force in Mexico, who made use of their power to torture and kill, the base line is still the same. The abuse of power is a serious issue that every country should place on top of their priority list.
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