At the start of this month, two Mexican anthropologists were allegedly attacked, beaten and stripped of valuables such as mobile phones and jewellery by Mexico City policemen.
According to statements made to independent Mexican publication Animal Politico, to whom the victims testified, the pair were leaving Metro Bellas Artes when they noticed as many as 40 policemen had surrounded two women and their children. As a result of trying to document the scene, one of the officers stole the phone of the anthropologist before both of them were beaten by the SSP officers. In the midst of the attack, the authorities also allegedly stole the victim’s bag and only later in police custody was her phone returned, with all the photos deleted.
The other phone, which belonged to the second victim, reportedly ended up at a local plaza where stolen phones are regularly sold on.
It is not the first time that Mexican police authorities have been implicated in violent attacks against other Mexicans. At the start of July this year, photojournalist Alejandro Mendoza and Azteca News reporter Isidro Corro said they were assaulted by agents of the Ministry of Public Security whilst reporting on a police operation. The case was also similar to that of the anthropologists, whereby police officers took the photography equipment and phones from the victims before violently attacking them. According to a report of the attack, the aftermath resulted in the police chief losing his position amidst statements that abuse of authority will not be tolerated in the Mexico City police.
Despite this, it doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. Just a few days ago another report surfaced of CDMX police authorities taking a Mexican student from his home and torturing him before handing him into a police department, alleging that they had caught him after a police chase.
Decades of corruption, combined with cartel influences and staggering levels of impunity, have fuelled a system of police abuses that appear to stretch far and wide across the country. Arguably more noticeable the further away you get from the country’s capital, there is an overwhelming distrust for Mexican police to this day. In Acapulco last month, for instance, an entire police force was disarmed, reported The Independent, after the discovery of major drug cartel corruptions.
The distrust of Mexican police is merely accentuated by the unprecedented levels of violence that are taking place in both the capital and regions further afield. Last year was documented as the most violent in the country’s modern history with regards to mortality rates, and this year is expected to even surpass it.
What’s more, the country’s police force has been deemed considerably under-equipped as well as underpaid, with many vacancies in the police authorities being unfilled. According to Al Jazeera, nearly half of police officers receive less than $600 a month based on a study by NGO Causa en Comun. It follows years of failed reforms in Mexico’s police authorities, who are faced with being at the forefront of preventing violent attacks and resisting the relentless threats of local cartel organisations.
Incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised to take a different approach to the failing system. Promising to increase the pay of policemen on the streets, AMLO has, however, already backtracked on campaign statements which suggested that he would scale back on the country’s military presence. Regardless of what approach Mexican citizens have towards local police, it is difficult to not notice the huge presence of armed authorities and heavily armoured cars across the country. Mexico now awaits to see whether AMLO’s tough stance against corruption will actually come to fruition.