An assailant last week used a pistol butt to smash the window of our family car at an intersection in Mexico City one night last week. My wife, daughter and a cousin were in the car. The gunman robbed purses and cell phones. No one was hurt.
But what was interesting happened later. My wife flagged down a patrol car once she got home (about 10 blocks away) and the local police took some details. They suggested my wife officially report the crime to investigators at what is called the Ministerio Publico.
Like many Latinos and Latinas, she saw little point in that. But when she found out that she’d need an official crime report to replace her FM3 residence permit, she and our cousin went yesterday.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I wasn’t there but my wife told me all about it later. When she explained to the investigators what happened, they discouraged her from filing a complaint of armed robbery. They said it would be a lot “easier” if she just reported “losing” her FM3 card. With that, she’d get a replacement, they said.
She balked. That’s when the employees said there’d only be trouble if they took down a report of armed robbery. “Senora,” they told her, “we’ll have to impound your car.” Why? Because they’d need to take photos of the car. How long would they keep it? 24 to 48 hours, they said. But the smashed window has already been replaced, my wife said. It doesn’t matter, they said.
So instead of taking a legitimate criminal complaint, they wanted her to file a bogus one -- perhaps so that statistics of real crimes don’t shoot up. In the end, citizens get victimized by criminals, then Mexicans as a whole become victims of a bureaucracy afraid of dealing with the problems confronting the country.