In the coming days, the Mexican government will begin to implement social programs around the country as part of its violence prevention strategy – the flip side of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security policies.
The $200 million National Social Prevention of Violence Program will see the government invest in 80 municipalities in 57 zones identified as the most affected by the violence of Mexico’s drug war, reported El Pais.
The aim of the program is to tackle the root causes of organized crime through targeting vulnerable communities via social programs and investing in urban regeneration.
Each area will have individually-tailored programs designed by local authorities working with the Sub-secretary for Prevention. They will be particularly focused on the needs of women and youths.
However, the timing of the start of the scheme, which comes two months before the start of local elections, has raised concerns that local politicians may divert funds allocated to the scheme’s social programs, reported Animal Politico.
InSight Crime Analysis
The implementation of the prevention program comes at a time when there are signs that the Peña Nieto government is already turning back to a more militaristic approach to tackling organized crime, with the deployment of thousands of troops in Michoacan in a move reminiscent of his much-criticized predecessor Felipe Calderon.
Peña Nieto has repeatedly insisted his security policies are markedly different to Calderon’s and can help bring under control the violence Calderon unleashed by declaring war on Mexico’s drug cartels. Politically, the prevention program is a key opportunity to differentiate his administration from the previous one, while any attempts to tackle the underlying social causes that helped create an ideal environment for organized crime to flourish should be welcomed.
However, to be successful, the program will require patient long-term investment, and it may be difficult to see the benefits for some years. This leaves it vulnerable to short-term political considerations, which could hamper its effectiveness.