Mexico City – Prominent poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia slammed Mexico's new special prosecutor's office for victims of violence, saying it lacks a budget and is merely a way for the current president to gloss over a serious problem as his six-year term winds down.
The administration of President Felipe Calderon, who took office in late 2006 and cannot seek re-election in 2012, did not confer with Sicilia's Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity regarding the new entity, Sicilia said in a press conference Wednesday in Mexico City.
Calderon announced the launch of the office during his state-of-the-nation speech last Friday, saying it is aimed at "uniting and structuring all the actions currently being taken on behalf of the victims" of violence in Mexico.
This week, he signed a decree creating the federal prosecutor's office.
"It seems like he's glossing over the problem near the end of his six-year term," the Mexican poet said, adding that the new prosecutor's office "would (only) attend to victims of crime in general and not those left by the war this government has waged against drug trafficking and organized crime."
Sicilia, who launched his movement after his son was killed in late March by suspected drug-gang members in the central state of Morales, said the Calderon administration's war on the powerful, well-funded cartels has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people.
Other estimates put the drug-war death toll since December 2006 at around 40,000.
Human rights activist Miguel Concha - a priest and associate of Sicilia's in the effort to end the militarization of the drug war and combat impunity - said the movement cannot "endorse the creation of the new prosecutor's office because its members were not consulted by the government."
Coinciding with the announcement about the new institution, the government also "is emphasizing that it will ramp up the war," Concha said.
Rather than a special prosecutor's office, Sicilia's movement is demanding that Congress establish a Truth Commission similar to those created in other Latin American countries, Concha said.
"This commission would allow the participation of the legislature, but above all the citizenry," Concha said.
The new office will offer victims specialized medical and psychological care and legal support, supervise criminal trials to facilitate access to justice and help with the search for missing persons.
Next month, the president is expected to name the head of the prosecutor's office, which will have a board consisting of Cabinet members and four high-profile civil society representatives in the security and justice areas.
The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and the Mexican president launched a dialogue on June 23 at Mexico City's Chapultepec Castle regarding the government's current strategy to combat the cartels, in which the army and federal police are playing the lead role.
Activists say the use of the military to battle drug cartels is only exacerbating the drug-related violence and has led to numerous human rights violations.
Numerous marches led by Sicilia since his son's murder have demanded not only a change in the drug-war strategy but also an end to impunity for violent crimes.
While several suspects have been arrested in his son's killing, Sicilia says it is shameful that thorough investigations are only seen in high-profile cases.