Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Mexican justice: Ayuda, por favor!

By Michael O'Hare

Everyone knows about the river of blood criminals, bystanders, and good guys flowing in Mexican streets as the country tries to get on top of its drug trafficking problem and the corruption of police and military it has engendered. Whats less well known is the pervasive inability of the criminal justice system to protect citizens from ordinary crime by distinguishing real perps from victims of police setups and frames, a situation that probably has a fair amount to do with the drug wars gruesome persistence.

Two of our students, Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete, have kicked this latter hornets nest with amazing results, making a documentary about one murder investigation and trial that is changing the world south of the border, and maybe elsewhere. But the system to which police and trial judges have accommodated themselves over decades isnt going down without a fight. After having given false testimony against defendant Too, and recanted it in a second trial that was only possible because the defense lawyer in the first had forged his license papers, the sole witness has decided that he would prefer his humiliation not be made public, and a judge in Mexico has enjoined showing the movie. Of course its unthinkable that the cops and prosecutors stood him up for this charade.

These Abogados Con Cmaras could use some help (no good deed goes unpunished: all the profits from the theatrical distribution are being contributed to a criminal justice NGO) in cash, and in print. Now its not just a justice issue, but also a free speech issue; censorship and corruption hiding behind a ludicrous privacy figleaf.

Cross-posted from The Reality-Based Community.