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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March 2005, 10:53 GMT
Mexican officers brought to book
By Claire Marshall
BBC News, Mexico City

A policeman directs traffic in Mexico City
Mexican police will be tested on their reading records
Police in Mexico City, one of the most crime-ridden capitals in the world, have been told they must read at least one book a month or forfeit promotion.

The mayor of the district where the scheme is being implemented believes that it will improve their work.

There is a popular conception that Mexican police are corrupt, incompetent and lazy.

Mayor Luis Sanchez believes he can fight low standards in the force by encouraging higher levels of literacy.

Along with guns, bullet-proof vests and handcuffs, police in the district of Nezahualcoyotl will now have to take a book with them.

Regular tests

If they do not read at least one a month, they lose their chance of being promoted.

Mayor Sanchez says the reading scheme for his 1,100-strong municipal police force will make them better officers and better people.

The list of recommended titles includes such literary classics as Don Quixote, The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz, and, on a lighter note, The Little Prince.

One hindrance is that a substantial proportion of the police are semi-literate.

About 20% were not educated beyond primary level.

However, according to the mayor, classes will be given to those with reading difficulties.

There is no chance of anyone getting away without doing the reading.

The policemen will be regularly tested to make sure they have read the books they name.

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Country profile: Mexico
10 Jul 03 |  Country profiles

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