As Americans continue to grapple with the consequences of racial injustice and police brutality, Mexico is having its own reckoning, sparked by recent police killings, including that of a Salvadoran woman.
Christian Science Monitor special correspondent Whitney Eulich told Texas Standard that police killed Victoria Esperanza Salazar Arriaza during a confrontation at a convenience store in the coastal city of Tulum. Frulich says Mexicans are aware of police brutality, especially toward migrants, but incidents are rarely caught on camera like the one involving Salazar.
“It’s something that happens on the top of trains in the middle of the night or in dark areas of the countryside where people are trying to make it through Mexico toward the U.S.,” Eulich said. “And so the fact that this was brought to the public’s attention is part of what’s made it such a special case.”
Another case, predating Salazar’s, is what Frulich says sparked protests for changes in policing over the last year. Bricklayer Giovanni López was killed by police in Jalisco last May after he was arrested for allegedly not wearing a face mask. Frulich says the public outrage against his killing has been an example of the global reach of the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police last summer.
Mexico has attempted to improve policing in recent years. A 2008 law made sweeping nationwide changes to the justice system. But it didn’t go fully into effect until 2016. Frulich says that may not be enough time to see whether the law “bears fruit.” And after López’s killing, the state of Jalisco led an investigation into the root causes of police brutality.
“[There’s] a whole array of people who are trying to to come up with concrete ways that the police can can better serve the community, and and hopefully eradicate some of these challenges that have faced the forces at the municipal and state levels for a really long time,” she said.