After twenty powerful business groups and think tanks publicly expressed outrage at Mexican authorities over rampant lawlessness, Mexico captured its most wanted drug lord, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez.
La Tuta’s apprehension comes at a convenient time for President Peña Nieto. Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza says although the operation was most likely planned well in advance of the business communities vote of “no confidence,” it’s been politically advantageous.
“He’s going into midterm elections. You’ll have nine governorships up for reelection and the entire senate and house on the federal side,” Garza says.
“So if he’s to be something more than a lame duck for this last three and a half years, what the business community and Mexicans generally think is very important to him.”
Garza says unrest in Mexico, which boiled over during last year’s violent protests in response to the mass kidnapping of students, has fueled desire for the implementation of reform, not just legislation.
“Rule of law is and security is the absolute underpinning of reform. I mean, you you can have great legislation on the books but if you don’t have security and you don’t have a sense of rule of law… the reforms can’t have positive impact that Mexicans hope that they do have,” Garza says.
“Building a rule of law culture is not something that happens overnight. I suppose more accurately its not only that there hasn’t been enough done, it is that there is an impatience in the citizenry to get more done more quickly.”
The former ambassador says the Mexican people are more outraged than the government itself when it comes to violence spurred by the drug trade and cartel activities. That dissatisfaction may come to the fore during July’s elections.
“The new administration had embraced a reform agenda and it had gotten a lot of long overdue reform done, in particular with respect to energy, some fiscal reform and labor. And so there was a sense that everything was moving in the right direction,” Garza says.
“The tail end of last year, though, was a reminder of how far Mexico has to go with respect to rule of law and security.”
This post was prepared with assistance by Sarah Alerasoul.