Obrador says Mexico should study Colombia peace process

Alfonso Durazo, who will be appointed as Public Security Minister for the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), gestures during an interview with Reuters in Mexico City, Mexico January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

MEXICO CITY: The Colombian peace process is a “good reference” for Mexico to follow to try and end years of drug violence, the security advisor of leftist presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday.

Lopez Obrador has chosen Alfonso Durazo, a veteran political operative who critics say has little law enforcement experience, as his pick to reactivate the public security ministry if he wins July’s presidential election, tasking Durazo with the tough job of lowering a record murder tally.

In an interview with Reuters in Mexico City, Durazo said he and his team would study successful efforts to end long-running conflicts from around the world, but adapt those solutions to meet Mexico’s needs.

“The Colombian peace process is a good reference, but we need to design our own terms,” said Durazo, who used to work with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and has worked with Lopez Obrador since 2006.

Durazo also cited the end of apartheid in South Africa Spanish efforts to end the ETA conflict and Argentina’s so-called Full Stop Law that helped reconcile a society driven by years of political repression, as models to learn from.

Lopez Obrador has said Durazo, 63, would take a central role in restoring order after years of violence claiming tens of thousands of lives, while also making the contentious suggestion of exploring an amnesty for criminal gangs.

“Will we explore the possibility of an amnesty? Yes. We won’t discard any idea that’s on the table without evaluating it first,” Durazo said. “Will we sit down with the big cartel kingpins? I can’t tell you right now.”

Nonetheless, he stressed that the focus was not on letting criminals off the hook, but rather seeking new ways to end the violence.

Durazo began his career as the private secretary of PRI presidential candidate Luis Colosio, working with him until he was assassinated in the 1994 presidential campaign.

He then left the PRI before becoming the spokesman of former President Vicente Fox, of the National Action Party, who led the country from 2000-2006.

In 2006, Durazo joined forces with Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor and two-time presidential runner-up.

Durazo said there were multiple causes of Mexico’s violence, including poverty and lack of education.