By Benjamin Cuellar Martinez.
This Thursday, December 29, marks the fifteenth anniversary of the death of Rafael Ruiz Harrell, a Mexican criminologist lawyer and journalist. In London, “he approached the circle of Bertrand Russell,” said Porfirio Muñoz Ledo; he was a disciple of the British pacifist, anti-imperialist and Nobel Prize for Literature. The singular Germán Dehesa regretted being “without a smiling, good-natured and wise friend”. Miguel Ángel Granados Chapa ‒first director of “La Jornada” ‒ assured that he rubbed shoulders with powerful people like Miguel de la Madrid and, instead of flattering them or being “part of his clique, Ruiz Harrell kept himself apart”; He even subjected “his partner to a harsh examination in the middle of his presidential term” that he included in “Exaltación de ineptitudes”, a book dedicated to prosecuting precisely the presidentialism in which -he denounced- “the corrupt are tolerated, the inept are exalted and society is miniaturized at the expense of a single man, who therefore ends up with mental disorders”.
Someone of that nature, then, was not just any mortal who passed through the world without pain or glory. I knew something. And not just criminology; also human rights. Not in vain has he belonged since 1990, the year of its foundation, to the board of directors of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights. For this reason, taking advantage of an excellent text of his entitled “Crime and human rights”, I will address something in the face of the prevailing situation in our country where -since June 1, 2019- bukelismo prevails.
Just like previous governments, before and after the war, the current one manages a punctual discourse that has nothing of “new ideas”. His revolt revolves around the same thing: accuse those of us who try to be coherent and consistent with the cause of human rights, of “defending criminals.” We impeded, according to past and present official voices, the effectiveness of the fight against crime. And many people who are victims of this, in their despair believed them before and believe it now. But is that true? Not at all.
Two things seem essential to me in Ruiz Harrell’s approach. The first has to do with that conception that tries to show human rights as ethereal aspirations; wishes “that can be reduced or canceled as required by the circumstances of the moment or demanded by public opinion”, when in reality they are “rights of the governed against the rulers”. They are neither concessions nor gifts from any generous patriarch.
In this framework, for example, when work is scarce among the popular majorities, poverty is generated and expanded. But this “by itself” does not promote criminality, says the lawyer. What “triggers” her, he argues, is her “brush” with wealth; Thus, “the municipalities that have the highest number of crimes per person are also those in which inequality is most pronounced.” That happens when the leadership of a country does not seek social justice and the common good; when it breaches its constitutional and legal obligations by favoring illegitimate interests. This is the second noteworthy issue today from the reflection of the Mexican who assures that “crime arises, above all, from bad government.” Totally agree.
And by canceling or limiting procedural guarantees to “combat it” -says the expert- “the point is deliberately and cunningly twisted” because these “undoubtedly set limits and conditions to the repressive action of the authorities, but not to defend those suspected of having committed a crime, but rather to defend all of us, the citizens, the governed, from the excesses, arbitrariness and violence that those in charge of order incur with such and unfortunate frequency”. “Violating these human rights – he continues – also increases crime”. Yes of course! It increases “the worst kind: the one committed by those who say they are fighting against it.” So, he concludes, “to violate human rights is to encourage crime.”
That has already happened in our country and it is happening today with the “bukelato”. Also the attacks against the defenders of the dignity of the people. The Christian Legal Aid was founded in 1975; Two years later, Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero made it his own. Its most visible members appeared on lists of the Armed Forces along with those who, according to the latter, had to be persecuted “incessantly” so that they would render “accounts for the damage caused to the homeland.” They suffered persecution and exile, two disappeared and their offices were raided. But nothing and no one stopped the organization’s work in its investigation, documentation and rigorous denunciation of the human rights violations committed by the dictatorship. Unfortunately, it seems that the wheel of our history continues to spin in the same crap.
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The same crap – Counterpoint