Teen killer's light sentence dismays a violence-weary Mexico
Edgar Jimenez was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention for a murder case that critics said should have been used to send a message on consequences to other young violent offenders in Mexico.
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The three-year sentence was not a surprise: it is the maximum allowed for Morelos, outside Mexico City, where the crimes were perpetrated. While organized crime cases are federal, there are no mechanisms in place to try minors at that level.Skip to next paragraph
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'It could have been a warning'
Still those Mexicans who sought to make the stunning case a lesson on consequences for other children were disappointed.
“This could have been a warning for others,” says Alicia Garcia, walking in the park with her son and dog on a brisk morning, who adds that even though the laws are different for minors and adults, “he committed the crimes of an adult.”
But as violence worsens in Mexico, children here are increasingly vulnerable to the drug groups that are behind tens of thousands of murders in recent years throughout the country.
One of the most vulnerable is the group dubbed ni-nis, youths who neither work nor are in school. In a July 24 editorial in its magazine, the archdiocese of Mexico recently said that there are potentially millions of such children who could be recruited by criminals with easy money. At a recent US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of State and Organization of American States (OAS) conference on youth development and crime prevention, OAS head José Miguel Insulza said that one of three young people in the region neither works nor studies.
“(They) are the most vulnerable to the lure of crime,” he said.
The conference noted that governments need to work harder to change the image of youths from generators of violence to positive agents of change and need to create programs that allow them to realize their potential.
Ms. Azaola says that many young children like Jimenez are demonized, but that a whole host of institutions are to blame.
“The media is just talking about a three-year sentence not being enough. They don’t also talk about the conditions in which this little boy grew up,” she says. “We have to look at the responsibility of families and institutions that failed to protect and give him any rights.”