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Flawed legal system encouraging Mexico’s criminals, says former foreign minister

October 30th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN 

Mexico’s brutal cycle of violence and crime is fuelled by a legal system that continuously fails to investigate, arrest and penalize its criminals, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday.

“In general, in Mexico, the rule of law does not really lead to punishment for those who commit crimes.  There are no investigations.  There are very few trials and very few sentences, let alone prison,” he said.

Protests have broken out across the country following the disappearance of 43 students more than a month ago. They were allegedly taken by the police before staging a demonstration in the south western town of Iguala, never to be seen again.

The incident has brought into light the underlying issues of rampant narco-crime and endemic corruption. Castañeda explained why offenders in Mexico have a “very high level of confidence” they will not be brought to justice.

“So when the army kills 22 people in Tlatlaya, or 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappear, the people who did that, whoever they may be, have very little to fear because they know that the ones who did similar things before have not been punished,” he said.

Kidnappings and mass graves have also become commonplace in Mexico, with several discovered in the country since the students vanished. But why has this particular case sparked so much outrage?

“So if you take these two things, the army executing 22 people and the local police executing or disappearing and doing away with 43 people plus six who were killed in front of everybody, that's a lot of people who are dying at the hands of the authorities in Mexico, either local authorities, state authorities or federal authorities,” Castañeda said.

He also told Holmes that the situation is partly to blame on President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, “which has done so well on so many other fronts,” he said, but “in this area of law and order and drugs and fighting the cartels and organized crime is simply pursuing former President Felipe Calderon's policies.”

“Those policies led to a real massacre, a disaster in Mexico, more than 70,000 people died; 25,000 disappeared.”

“And President Peña Nieto has neither changed policies nor punished those responsible for the extraordinary levels of violence of the previous administration.”

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