Children in Mexico: Criminals or victims?

Tania L. Montalvo, CNN, January 17, 2012

At least 30,000 children in Mexico are involved in some sort of organized crime, according to a nationwide alliance of civic and social organizations.

The Child Rights Network in Mexico says many of these children are taking part because of death threats or because of economic and social necessity. It is urging the government to start recognizing them as victims of child abuse.

“The drug cartels are not training them to be ringleaders,” spokeswoman Veronica Morales said. “It is a new form of abuse in which they are being used to commit an offense, to violate the law and to deceive authorities.”

In the past year, there have been numerous headlines of children being arrested in Mexico.

Perhaps the most high-profile case involved a 14-year-old boy known as “El Ponchis” (“The Cloak”). He was found guilty of torturing and beheading at least four people for the South Pacific drug cartel.

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While the Child Rights Network in Mexico said it has documented at least 30,000 kids involved in some criminal group, the Mexican government said it has not. According to the Agence Presse-France, the government told the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that it doesn’t have information about minors involved in criminal or armed groups.

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The Child Rights Network in Mexico said it is common for many child suspects—like the 14-year-old assassin and the 15-year-old boy in Jiutepec—to be presented to the media without respect for their privacy or their presumption of innocence.

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Arturo Argente, director of the law faculty at the Monterrey Institute of Technology of Higher Education (Toluca Campus), agrees that Mexican authorities must protect a child’s identity and guarantee that a process will follow “from a child-abuse angle, as a kid who has been working at an illegal business.” In addition to that, he said, the children must receive psychological treatment and be taught to respect the law.

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In the past five years, from December 2006 to December 2011, at least 1,188 children have died because of armed clashes, according to the Child Rights Network in Mexico. That represents about 2.5% of the estimated 47,515 drug-related deaths over the last five years reported by Mexican authorities.

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  • http://countenance.wordpress.com/ Question Diversity

    The Child Rights Network in Mexico says many of these children are
    taking part because of death threats or because of economic and social
    necessity. It is urging the government to start recognizing them as
    victims of child abuse.

    This sounds like the “mother of the black teenage murder suspect” canard:  Good boy, honor student, great athlete, aspiring rapper, went to church, turning his life around.  But he just happened to fall in with the wrong crowd.

    Pray tell, if everyone in the wrong crowd just happened to fall in with the wrong crowd, who is the wrong crowd?

    If these “children” (clearing my throat) aren’t really bad actors but are only running with the drug gang out of coercion or social necessity, then who are the real hard core bangers?

    • Anonymous

      This is a very different country from ours.  It boasts the world’s very first Socialist revolution.  They don’t have the free enterprise system.  Everything is cartellized.

      A friend of mine used to have a Mexican girlfriend and he went down there with her to visit her family that still lives in Guadalajara.  He told me that nobody there has a job in the sense that we have it, because the government intervention in the economy is so widespread that it’s impossible to make any real money without hustling in the black markets. 

      Their government destroyed their economy years ago, like ours is trying to do to ours today.  So it’s not like these kids can start out bagging groceries and hope to move up to regional manager or something. 

  • Blaak Obongo

    As soon as I saw the magic words “Children” and “Victims” in the same headline, I knew that what followed was going to be a typical weepy liberal sob story about the Poor, Poor Mexican ninos.  Along with an unspoken implication that we should be letting them all in, so they don’t have to be “victims” any more.

    “Perhaps the most high-profile case involved a 14-year-old boy known as “El Ponchis” (“The Cloak”). He was found guilty of torturing and beheading at least four people for the South Pacific drug cartel.”

    Uh, sure.  How many “victims” like this will we be taking in this month?

  • Zorro

    They are both.