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More Mexican Groups Appeal for Crime Control - 2002-10-16

In Mexico, business organizations and civic groups are calling on the government to take more dramatic steps against kidnapping and other violent criminal activities. One of the main demands is for honest accounting on the part of law enforcement agencies.

As the crime stories mount and fear spreads in the streets, Mexican business leaders are calling on government officials to do more to counter the plague of kidnapping. The nation's largest employers group, known as COPARMEX (Confederacion Paternal de la Republica Mexicana), has taken the lead in this battle, challenging law enforcers at all levels to take decisive steps against kidnappers.

COPARMEX spokesman Jose Antonio Ortega says there is much the government can do.

He says his organization is taking a stand for public order and legality. He says the government has failed to enforce the law and has not done enough to help victims and their families.

Among the things COPARMEX wants from the government are realistic figures regarding the number of kidnappings. The business organization maintains its own, unofficial accounts, indicating that there are around four kidnappings a day, on average, in Mexico. According to the records kept by the organization there were 15,000 kidnappings in Mexico last year.

COPARMEX is also calling for a more concerted effort to stop official corruption, programs to encourage citizen informants and programs to help crime victims and their families. The organization is also condemning bureaucratic tangles that have discouraged many victims from even seeking the help of authorities.

In an effort to boost crime-fighting efforts here in Mexico City, COPARMEX recently provided funds for a $4.3 million one-year contract with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to serve as a law-and-order consultant.

While Mr. Giuliani has been credited with reducing crime in New York during his term in office, critics here say he is likely to have little success in Mexico City. Critics say a high-paid consultant is not needed to see the already obvious problems of official corruption, poorly paid and often ill-trained police and an ineffective judicial system.

Newspaper columnist Sergio Sarmiento noted this week that only around one percent of crimes committed in Mexico end up with someone being convicted and sent to jail. He says the only way to reduce crime is to ensure that criminals feel they are taking a real risk of being punished for their crimes and there is no need to pay Mr. Giuliani $4 million to come to that conclusion.