SECURITY TOPS THE AGENDA IN MORELOS Cuernavaca, Mor. Feb.21, 2015
The State of Morelos and its capital Cuernavaca have emerged as leaders in Mexico’s quest for improved security. The state and the “city of eternal spring” have long been beacons for national and international tourism. But foreigners have been more reluctant visitors in recent years, frightened by alarmist publicity abroad on crime in Mexico. The current focus on improving security promotes not only the well-being of state residents but is critical to attracting investors and tourists and bolstering the state’s economy.
Governor Graco Ramírez has put the campaign against violence and delinquency at the top of his agenda. Morelos has been one of the leaders in promoting the Mando Único or Unified Command for all agencies of state security. The goal is a unified structure coordinating all Federal, State, and Ministerial Police, Investigative and Criminal Police, the 24th military zone, the prosecutor general of the Republic, Civilian Protection (fire and rescue), and medical emergencies. Any citizen calling 066 seeking assistance or making a complaint is immediately directed to the proper agency. By February 2015, 30 of 33 municipalities in the state had integrated their operations under a single command covering over 95 percent of the state population. The adhesion of other communities is pending.
In his emphasis on the Unified Command, Governor Ramírez is implementing a goal of President Enrique Peña Nieto whose security priority is Mando Único for the entire country, consolidating 32 state police agencies and hundreds of municipal police forces into a single entity. Graco Ramírez thus provides significant advocacy for the presidential initiative that has been endorsed also by Mexico City Regent Miguel Ángel Mancera and Nuevo León Governor Rodrigo Medina, all three of whom appeared recently before the Mexican Senate that will deliberate the national plan in February.
Central to the success of the Mando Único is the purging of local police forces by reviewing performance, drug testing, exams of confidence, and transparency in personal wealth. Thanks to the work of state and municipal authorities, hundreds of police have been decommissioned and replaced by more professionally trained recruits to be part of the unified command. Professionalization programs have also included workshops on human rights, an area of frequent press scrutiny. Governor Ramírez also announced in early February the construction of a Judicial City in Xochitepec in 2015 to enhance the program of judicial reform indispensable to combatting delinquency.
The campaign for security has included investments in infrastructure like the construction of several new police barracks and the provisioning of new equipment and technology. The most significant investment has been the innovative system of video-vigilance in the city and state. In November 2014 Morelos launched its state-of-the-art operation called C5, the Center of Coordination, Command, Control, Communication, and Computing. The system deploys over 400 video cameras at strategic locations in 26 municipalities of the state covering 93 percent of the population. The number of cameras deployed will eventually reach 1200. A huge investment from state and federal funding and bank loans has financed the operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The operation integrates the actions of the Mexican army, federal and state police agencies, Mando Único, and related agencies to monitor, suppress, and prevent criminal activity. The cameras can monitor both vehicle and pedestrian activity. State Security Secretary Alberto Capella Ibarra reported that on the first day of operations the cameras facilitated the arrest of two suspected kidnappers and the rescue of a victim.
The State’s C5 is also working with fiber-optic technology to better coordinate with its counterpart C3 in the city of Cuernavaca, launched in December 2014 by Mayor Jorge Morales Barud. The Secretariat of Citizen Security operates the Center for Computing, Communication, and Command that has installed cameras in 27 locations on principal streets of the city and coordinates various security agencies in the capital. Plans are to add 50 more cameras during 2015.
These advances have been under the radar and little reported outside Morelos, but Reforma noted (Feb. 8) that the budget for security has tripled under Governor Ramírez and cited his recent informe crediting the restructuring under Mando Único for a drop in the incidence of high-impact crime, especially homicide, kidnapping, and extortion. CNN Mexico online reported (Jan.26) that 65 percent of the homicides in Mexico in 2014 occurred in just ten states, and Morelos was not among them. Cuernavaca city authorities also claim significant declines in reported delinquency.
Given the noticeable improvements in security in the state and its capital, and a perception among local residents that crime is on the wane, a non-governmental report claiming Cuernavaca is the most violent city in Mexico came as a shock to officials and residents. The report published online February 9 by the Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, “Cuernavaca Tops the List of Mexico’s Most Violent Cities,” cited statistics on reported crimes to pronounce Cuernavaca more dangerous than Acapulco or Chilpancingo. The conclusions were repeated in English in the Latin American Herald Tribune February 21.
Given the chaos in Chilpancingo, capital of Guerrero state, and the large number of criminal gangs operating in Acapulco that caused federal police to move forces into that city, one can imagine that unreported crimes in those cities are more frequent. In addition, the statistics for the year 2014 would not show the improvements in security in Morelos and Cuernavaca that began late in the year thanks to Mando Único, C5, and C3. Multiple requests to state and city security officials for specific data refuting the report have gone unanswered. But future statistical comparisons should be more favorable given the security improvements noted here.
Citzens want assurance that crime levels are dropping. Investors need security as much as potential profits before committing their capital. And tourists seek certainty that their destinations are safe. So there is much to be gained on those three fronts by the increased emphasis on security issues, declining delinquency, and police and judicial reform in Morelos. The city and the state have shown significant leadership in translating those goals into reality.
Fotos cortesía de la Comisión Estatal de Seguridad Pública de Morelos.
16 thoughts on “SECURITY TOPS THE AGENDA IN MORELOS”
Thanks, Jim; it’s reassuring to see the governor of Morelos working on this problem. So WHAT does it mean that Cuernavaca was claimed to be the most violent city? What kinds of data were used to come to that conclusion? And what difference, if any, do you see in your daily life there?
You’ve probably seen the reports that crime in Ciudad Juarez and its “sister city” across the border in Texas, El Paso is way down. ELP was classified as one of the safest American cities for its size. Don’t know what other parameters were used, and it seems a little dubious to me, but what do I know?
Susan ****************************** Susan Ansara 4471 Superstition Drive Las Cruces, NM 88011 Phone: 575-649-8786 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org *******************************
Hi Susan, the statistics are rather complicated in the original article in LAHT, and the local authorities think they are out of date. I have asked for a more specific corrective but nothing so far.
Thank you for your clarification – I, too, wondered about the non-governmental report and how it could be possible. This is very reassuring. All the residents I know seem to feel crime is down considerably. Thanks again!
Thanks. That was the perception I got from talking to many residents here.
Interesting and hopeful that Mexican authorities anywhere are working on the problems of corruption, drugs and dangerous streets in Mexico. I love Mexico and especially the people and hope I get to return to it’s streets and feel safe sometime soon. Is it a question of paying police and law enforcement a living wage? That and more employment opportunities for young people? Whatever — hope some of the problems can be solved. Thanks for the enlightenment.
Thanks Nancy. I’ve always appreciated your positive attitude. Of course police pay and training are keys to improvement. It would also help if 35 million Northamericans didn’t buy drugs.
Good analysis of the situation, Jim. I recently spent a month in Cuernavaca and felt very safe and secure. I would be the first to encourage tourists, language students and business people to come to Cuernavaca. As long as one uses common sense (as is the case in any city worldwide) chances of running into trouble are slim.
It was great to see you back here again Cynthia. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Sorry I was so busy with houseguests that we got to do no more than the Jardines de México.
I will be back!!
Good post on a grave problem in Morelos. Being between Guerrero, the State of Mexico and the D.F., crime will always be a challenge here for a long time to come. Also the lower economic functioning compared with the Northern states, provides a needy environment susceptible to crime. It woud go a long way to move us out of a narco gobierno and have politicans that truly serv the public rather than self interest.
A perceptive comment as always. Thanks Jake.
Thank you, Jim. Even though I have a house in Ahuatenco, a village NW of Cuernavaca, I have never really felt unsafe during our 10 years in Mexico. There have been many retenes by the police and the army on our way up and down and to and from my place. I don’t travel much at night the older I get, but I do feel good that the army base is so close to my village. I always thank the people involved in setting up the retenes because I believe they are for our safety. I may have been stopped by the bad police but haven’t known it as their conduct has always been friendly and pleasant with me. I am not a pollyanna, however, and maybe have just had good luck. I do think about the possibility of something bad happening, but in the 6 or 7 years I have owned the property, it hasn’t happened.
I love Mexico with a passion and plan to be back and forth as long as I am able. I have never felt unsafe in Cuernavaca, unless I end up in a bad neighborhood, but I am always aware of that in any city I visit.
Also I always enjoy your news and knowledge of this precious country.
You are to be congratulated for your spirit Mariana. I’m not sure I would feel comfortable living in a remote village. So glad you have had good luck with the local authorities.
My wife and two of our friends visited Cuernavaca in December of last year and had a great time. Beautiful city, great climate (la ciudad de la eterna primavera) and very friendly people. We also spent a day in Taxco and stopped to visit some of the wonderful historical sites. We wish for President Peña Nieto, Governor Ramírez, Mayor Morales and all the other public officials the best of luck in getting the security of the country back in order.
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