Mexico Identifies Violent Zones for New Crime Prevention Strategy

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Mexico’s government has listed 250 highly violent zones to be targeted under a new crime prevention program, as the new administration’s violence reduction strategy begins to take shape.

Interior Ministry (SEGOB) spokesman, Eduardo Sanchez, said that 250 zones with high crime levels — each with a population between 60,000 and 100,000 — have been identified as intervention zones for the government’s new national crime prevention program. The government has also identified as many as 1,000 specific communities to be included, reported Excelsior.

At the moment, 91 of these zones are located in the 19 states — including violence-plagued Chihuahua, Guerrero, and Nuevo Leon — that have formed inter-institutional commissions to participate in the National Social Prevention of Crime and Violence Program. The program, to be implemented by SEGOB’s Prevention and Citizen Participation unit by May 2013, has a budget of over US$200 million (2.5 billion pesos). Measures will include education and employment initiatives, as well as the improvement of public spaces, reported Milenio.

In identifying high-risk zones, the government used national security information, as well as data originating from these zones’ areas like school drop-out rates, and incorporated the origins of recently arrested criminals.

According to Prevention and Citizen Participation Deputy Minister, Roberto Campa, the government has also established “phase zero” zones, where in addition to preventative social measures, they will coordinate crime reduction measures with national police, partly to ensure the safety of social workers. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The government’s announcement comes as the president’s security strategy endures close scrutiny by both analysts and the US government. Crime prevention is one security policy angle Peña Nieto has highlighted, although many prevention funds were already designated under Calderon, making it difficult to differentiate between old and new policies. 

Regardless, Mexico does appear to be giving some definition to its crime prevention strategy, which was criticized earlier in March by Mexican crime analyst Alejandro Hope, who said Campa’s program was practically non-existent, as it did not yet have a budget or clear goals.

Localized crime prevention strategies have been shown to work in Nicaragua to such an extent that other countries have sought to export the model. However, linking local and national security strategies, as appears to be the aim of the current program, will be difficult in a country the size of Mexico, as pointed out by InSight Crime

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