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Team for Mexico's leftist president-elect suggests leniency with criminals could reduce cartel crime

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has a transition team that is suggesting going easier on criminals and helping them would reduce crime in the nation. (Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

The transition team for Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a plan Friday to fight crime and reduce jail time. The plan also called for “stiffer controls on weapons, as the country reels from a militarized drug war,” Reuters news reported.

Olga Sanchez, who is Obrador’s proposed interior minister, told Reuters the concept of “transitional justice” is part of the incoming government’s integral security strategy. The practice involves "leniency for those who admit guilt, truth commissions to investigate atrocities and the granting of reparations for some victims."

How would this work?

“Not only will it be amnesty, it will be a law to reduce jail time,” Sanchez told the news outlet. “We will propose decriminalization, create truth commissions, we will attack the causes of poverty, we will give scholarships to the youth and we will work in the field to get them out of the drug situation."

Obrador, a leftist who sailed to a presidential win Sunday, is attempting to negotiate “peace and amnesty" for some people who are currently in the bulls-eye of the nation's security forces, the report noted.

The plan also calls for removing a significant part of the military from the streets within 3 years and “professionalizing local police,” said Alfonso Durazo, Obrador’s pick for security minister.

Further, the government plans to fight “corruption in the ports” and “establish stricter customs controls to stop illegal weapons from entering the country.”

Sanchez’s team is also studying Colombia’s method of making peace with its biggest guerrilla group by allowing rebel leaders to avoid prison, according to the report.

The amnesty plan is expected to be presented as a public referendum. If supported by the public, it would be presented to Congress, where it is likely to see support, the report states. Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement and allies gained seats on Sunday.

Has this ever been tried?

The concept is similar to a plan in 1940 by then-President Lazaro Cardenas.

Cardenas “decriminalized drugs, authorized doctors to prescribe narcotics for addicts, opened up clinics for addicts and proposed treating them as patients instead of criminals,” according to the report.

The radical concept lasted just 6 months because shortages of cocaine and morphine during World War II led to the cancellation of the law.

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