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Mexico's Green Party Urges Death Penalty for Kidnappers


Violent murders linked to organized crime - in particular the drug trade - are soaring in Mexico with nearly 6,000 people killed last year, double the number for 2007. As a result, Mexico's tiny Green Party has decided to campaign for the reintroduction of the death penalty.

The Green Party in Mexico is pressing for the death penalty for kidnappers who torture, mutilate or murder their victims. If this measure is adopted by the country's legislators, it would reverse a 2005 decision to formally scrap capital punishment. It has been almost 50 years since anyone was executed in Mexico.

More than 5,600 people were killed by drug traffickers in Mexico last year and analysts say Mexico is now the most dangerous country in the world for kidnapping. But 97 percent of the country's kidnapping cases go unsolved by police, one of the reasons many critics of the death penalty question its effectiveness in deterring crime.

But public anger is fueling the debate. A poll conducted last year found that more than 70 percent of those asked supported the death penalty.

The Green Party has launched a hot line to inform the public on the issue. It has received thousands of calls supporting the death penalty for kidnappers who brutalize their victims.

Green Party leader Jorge Emilio Gonzalez says voters are demanding a fitting deterrent to counteract these vicious crimes.

"It is not the answer," said Jorge Emilio Gonzalez. "But it is part of the answer. It is a message that we are going strong. They are going to think twice. They know that if they get caught - in six, eight months - one year, they are going to get the death penalty."

Green Party Vice Coordinator Diego Cobo explains the legislative proposal is specifically designed to protect the kidnapping victims.

"The purpose of our proposal is not to kill criminals," said Diego Cobo. "The first purpose of our proposal is to protect the victim, to tell the criminal that if he kills his victim, he is going to be killed also. So the first effect of our proposal is the protection of the victim. The life of the victim."

College of Mexico International Studies Department Professor Lorenzo Meyer is a specialist in the history of Mexico's political development. He says Mexico's Police Forces are too corrupt, and its legal system way too fragile, to consider using the death penalty.

"In Mexico, the only people that are in jail ... well not only, but basically 95 percent, are poor," said Lorenzo Meyer. "And nobody, really nobody trusts the judicial system. So introduce the death penalty here, and you would have a lot of executions that are unfair. In the case of Mexico, it could be really criminal to introduce the death penalty with this sort of judicial system."

Lawyer Alonso Aguilar Zinser agrees with Meyer. He says the death penalty is not the way for Mexico's legal system to progress.

"Criminals are a product of the society," said Alonso Aguilar Zinser. "And something is failing in society if you have criminals. You do not have the right to have a revenge, if you have problems in society. You have to resolve the problems. Not revenge, because an eye for an eye is not the position of a modern state."

Outrage over kidnapping in Mexico surged last year after the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Fernando Marti. After his wealthy family paid a substantial ransom, the boy was murdered. Those subsequently arrested included the commander of a police detective unit based at Mexico's International Airport.

In the aftermath of the crime, the murdered boy's father demanded politicians do more to curb kidnapping or quit their well-paid jobs.

Thousands of people dressed in white marched through Mexico City last year as they had during the previous administration of President Vicente Fox, but the rampant level of kidnappings has not decreased. The death penalty issue is due to be debated in Mexico's Congress in the coming days.

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