Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Violence associated with organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, again rose dramatically in 2009, resulting in the deaths of at least 7,700 people. The government continued to deploy troops to the areas most affected by violence even as allegations of rights abuses by the military increased. The opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its allies captured a majority of seats in July elections for the lower house of Congress, and in December President Felipe Calderon proposed a package of major political reforms.
As the country prepared to enter its bicentennial year in 2010, a generalized sense of political dysfunction spurred Calderon to propose major political reforms in December. Among other changes, the package would allow limited reelection for many elected officials, permit candidates to run as independents, provide for a second round of voting in presidential elections, reduce the size of Congress, and grant the president a line-item veto on budget bills.
Mexico is an electoral democracy. The president is elected to a six-year term and cannot be reelected. The bicameral Congress consists of the 128-member Senate, elected for six years through a mix of direct voting and proportional representation, with at least two parties represented in each state’s delegation, and the 500-member Chamber of Deputies, with 300 elected directly and 200 through proportional representation, all for three-year terms. Members of Congress are also currently barred from reelection. Each state has an elected governor and legislature.
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are common, and perpetrators are rarely punished. Implementation of a 2007 law designed to protect women from such crimes remains halting, particularly at the state level. Mexico is both a major source and a transit country for trafficked persons. Internal trafficking is also a problem. The murder of hundreds of women in the U.S. border zone over the last 15 years has remained a controversial subject; in Ciudad Juarez, the number of women killed has risen substantially in recent years along with the overall murder rate. Abortion became an increasingly contentious issue in 2009, as many states reacted to Mexico City’s 2007 liberalization of abortion laws by strengthening their own criminal bans on the procedure in most circumstances.