The first Mexican presidential debate just wrapped up focused on crime, violence, security, and corruption.
The five candidates: independents - Jaime Rodriguez and Margarita Zavala de Calderon; Jose Antonio Meade of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the Morena party; and Ricardo Anaya from the coalition, For Mexico to the Front are took questions from journalist Denise Mearker, Azucena Uresti, and Sergio Sarmiento.
To combat crime Obrador proposed a system of amnesty for organized crime participants, to which all other candidates strongly disagreed saying they wanted to "put away criminals."
Anaya added that national crime levels in 2017 were some of the country’s highest in recent years (Mexico’s homicide rate was its highest in twenty years) and wants fight crime and insecurity by "beheading organized crime," doubling the size of the federal police, and educating police so "that they are on the side of the people."
Obrador, who is well ahead in the polls with 48 percent voter support, says that politicians are working for organized crime leaders, not the people. Government corruption, he says, is the country’s biggest problem - not organized crime. The three-time candidate and former Mexico City mayor says that government corruption cost the state "500 billion pesos (over $US27 billion) per year."
The lead candidate says that but that he doesn’t agree with President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) who has said that corruption is simply a part of Mexican culture. He proposed making government smaller by selling the president’s plane and the government’s fleet of planes and helicopters.
Margarita Zavala de Calderon, the wife of former president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), says she wants to decrease rampant kidnappings, femicides, and crimes in general by using the latest technologies to strengthen intelligence and by creating an anti-corruption agency. Meade also said he would "quadruple" the state’s ability to investigate crimes to decrease them, adding, "as long as there’s impunity the country can’t have security."
Obrador punctuated the session saying that PRI "tactics" to fight crime have been "useless" noting that there are still approximately 36,000 disappeared cases in Mexico. He said that this type of "violence has skyrocketed because the economy hasn’t grown in 30 years. Mexico is poverty factory," he claimed.
Independent candidate and former PRI member, Jaime Rodriguez said he would fight crime by cutting off the hands of delinquents. When the moderator, Azucena Uresti asked to clarify the statement, Rodriguez said, "Literally. We should cut off criminals’ hands. I will propose legislation for this."
Obrador wrapped up his segment by saying, "my government will be a peaceful revolution, and government that represents everyone. I won't be at the service of the minority. Viva Mexico."
This is the first in a series of three presidential debates, the next one happening May 20 from Tijuana. The public votes July 1.