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The disappearance and murder of a great number of women and girls in Mexico

document 10551

plenary session 21 June 2005

On behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, I congratulate Ms Vermot-Mangold on her report. Although Mexico is not a member state but an observer at the Council of Europe, it is important that we should draw attention to this particular case. The draft resolution and recommendation contain good concrete proposals for a better and more fundamental approach to the disappearance and murder of women and girls, based on the fact that these crimes seem to be committed systematically against women, and can be described as feminicide.

I have three points to make, and I invite the rapporteur to react to them. First, the region on the Mexican side of the border between Mexico and the United States of America is a melting pot of problems, as I noticed in March 2004 when the Sub-Committee on Migration visited the area, including the city of Nogales. Thousands of desperate people try to get into the United States, and there is a huge drugs problem. Companies from the United States have their factories here because of the low wages.

To solve such border problems both parties – both countries – need to be involved, but as we know, the United States has built an iron curtain to keep the problems out, although many mansions and farms use the cheap labour of illegal Mexican immigrants. Is there a connection between the murders and disappearances and those other border problems? If so, the co-operation of the United States is needed to tear the iron curtain down and work together with Mexico to develop the border region, to implement a humane immigration policy and to bring an end to double standards.

Secondly, a drug war is going on between Mexican gangs, in which the police are involved - both in a good way and in a bad way. Some police forces try to beat the gangs, but in doing so they also have to fight against other police forces who are part of the gangs. As the report says, it is no surprise that poor and desperate women are driven to the lucrative drugs trade, after which they are easy victims for the gangs to get rid of. That raises the question of whether there is a clear connection between those killings and the war on drugs. It also raises the question of whether there is any chance of winning the war against drugs. The answer is no. Solving drugs problems needs a fundamentally different approach, in which the drug addict is not looked upon as a criminal, and the commercial ties between the drug production and the drugs trade, and all kinds of authorities that have interests in them, are cut.

That brings me to my third point. As The Economist of 3 June pointed out, many murders seem to be linked with organised rings of drug traffickers, police and politicians. That is a common problem in Mexico, where 97% of murders are not solved, and under the long rule of the IRP, the role of police and prosecutors was not to investigate crime but to control it and profit from it. Reform of the justice system and the police is necessary, but President Fox’s attempts to do that were frustrated by the Mexican Congress. Good governance is needed in Europe, but also in Mexico, and I hope that the report will contribute to that.