Miguel Alvarez Gandara said the key to social change in Mexico is unity among the different movements rising among the people. Photo/Courtesy of Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice

Mexican people cry out for social change

By 
  • May 27, 2016

TORONTO – Mexico is ready for social change. The problem is that no one can agree on where to start, said Miguel Alvarez Gandara.

“All these explanations of the Mexican situation, in my opinion, all of them are part of the complete diagnosis of human rights,” said Gandara, an expert in peace meditation. “The problem is that in Mexico, every group is acting towards its own diagnosis.”

Earlier this month, Gandara visited Toronto to talk to the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice, along with Canadian Jesuits International, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Amnesty International, to share his insight into Canada’s third largest trading partner.

“Some say that the Mexican state is so corrupted with so much juridical fiction that it is not a state of law, it is not a state of justice. It’s just a general condition where the powerful benefit from the minority,” he said. “For another, this is a criminal state linked with organized crime. Some will call it a narco state.”

Others believe the main crisis in Mexico lies in security, with the Mexican army holding sway over local communities and local affairs. 

Some believe the growing income gap has fuelled the growth of organized crime. Gandara said organized crime is so strongly linked with individuals in government and in communities it is very difficult to contain its spread.

Gandara said the Mexican people are frustrated, yet the government consistently denies the reality of the situation. In March, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission released a report that said Mexico is suffering a “serious crisis of violence and impunity.” The report said the Mexican government has systemically failed to investigate crimes that have led to torture and the disappearance and killings of more than 30,000 people as of 2015.

The Mexican government responded to the report in a public statement denying there was a human rights crisis and that the report did not reflect the general situation of the country.

“(The Mexican government) is not accepting the fact of that explanation. They say that they did not generalize, instead they focused on the isolated incidents,” said Gandara. “The truth is that because of the violence of the war against crimes, we as a country have the surprise of receiving what is now the centralizing of all victims.”

Gandara said that in anticipation of the upcoming Three Amigos summit on June 29, when leaders from Canada, the United States and Mexico will meet, it is important that Canadians gain a better understanding of the crisis that Mexico is currently facing. 

Gandara has more than 40 years of experience in peace mediation in Mexico. He is president of SERAPAZ (Service and Advising for Peace), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing peaceful resolutions to social struggles in Mexico. He said that when Pope Francis visited Mexico in February, it was a phenomenon because everyone wanted the Holy Father to say something that supported their cause and their agenda.

“There was a preparation for the battle for the Pope,” said Gandara. “But he was so smart... He didn’t say the phrases that we were needing but he left us a package of wonders of hope. Now the media has forgotten the Pope, but the churches are working with the gift the Pope gave the Mexican people.”

Gandara is hopeful about the future. Social movements are rising up everywhere in the country and the people are letting it be known they are very aware of the corruption in the country.

“I do believe that in the same way that we can say that the world is facing a global warming in ecological terms, we can say that (Mexico) is facing a political and social warming,” he said. “We are sensitive. Violence is coming at any moment.”

Gandara admits that Mexico has a long road ahead before there is peace, but the key is to encourage unity among the people.

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