Another coverage of the visit from Mexican President Felipe Calderon to Ciudad Juarez.
In the traumatized border city, he talks of social programs aimed at boosting the fight against drug cartels.
Los Angeles Times
Angry crowds greeted Calderon as he arrived in a heavily guarded Ciudad Juarez. The president said it was time to launch a much-discussed expansion of the drug war to include efforts aimed at tackling social issues, such as unemployment and addiction.
To underscore the point, Calderon took with him an unusually large contingent of Cabinet members, including the ministers of health, education and public security. However, he was short on details and, in initial remarks, did not earmark money for new programs.
Calderon met with relatives of the victims, but many family members refused to see him. They joined large groups of protesters who lined streets and waved signs saying "Apologize, then resign!" Police broke up some of the demonstrations, witnesses said.
Later in the president's speech, a woman rose and shouted that she had lost two children in the killings and that he was not welcome in Ciudad Juarez. "Enough with your war!" she cried.
The expanded program promising jobs and education represented an admission that a guns-only approach has not stopped drug gangs nor reduced killings, especially in Ciudad Juarez. But Calderon has also said he does not plan to withdraw the nearly 10,000 army troops and federal police officers that have been dispatched to the city.
The Calderon administration has long grappled with what to do about Juarez and proposed a new strategy last summer, when government officials acknowledged they were being forced to review procedures that weren't working.
Juarez is a long-neglected city plagued by poverty, corruption and an influx of unskilled workers desperate for jobs. Always saddled with a high homicide rate, especially so for women, the city has seen an exponential increase in killings as drug gangs have battled for turf and innocents have been drawn into the conflict.
Leftist federal senators said this week that they would ask Calderon to consider instituting a curfew in Ciudad Juarez and suspending civil liberties as a way to restore order "in the face of such an extraordinary situation."
In an editorial titled "Real solutions, Mr. President," Juarez newspaper El Diario questioned whether the visit was motivated by the looming election season and said blame for the city's plight rested not only with the presidency but also with state and local officials.