Mexican President Felipe Calderon urged civil society and the authorities to join forces in an effort to halt violence against human rights defenders and journalists, as well as candidates in next year’s general elections.
“I am reiterating to all federal entities my instruction to implement effective mechanisms to protect human rights defenders and journalists,” the head of state said Friday during the 2011 National Human Rights award ceremony.
Calderon said civil society and the authorities must join forces to ensure the safety of members of grassroots organizations, reporters, politicians and ordinary citizens and guarantee the survival of Mexican democracy.
He also urged electoral authorities to explore mechanisms for providing “effective protection to candidates and activists during electoral processes, especially (the July 1, 2012, general election).”
“This is an urgent task that demands our full attention,” Calderon said, adding that organized crime is the “primary threat” to democratic institutions and the rule of law.
He said it is regrettable that federal, state and local governments have not yet been able to “contain the wave of aggression and violence against activists, journalists and also candidates and (government officials).”
Journalists have increasingly been targeted in recent years by drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, especially in northern Mexico, while media members must also contend with long-running abuse at the hands of federal, state and local officials.
Numerous mayors and other politicians also have been slain in recent years in Mexico, while a candidate for governor of the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas was murdered in 2010.
Calderon militarized the struggle against the nation’s heavily armed, well-funded drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of army soldiers and federal police to drug-war flashpoints.
The strategy has led to headline-grabbing captures of cartel kingpins, but drug-related violence has skyrocketed and claimed nearly 50,000 lives nationwide over the five-year period.