Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Calderon Delivers Blunt View of Drug Cartels' Sway in Mexico

Saturday, August 7, 2010 |

He says the government will press its military-led battle against the cartels. But in the unusually bleak portrait he offers, he acknowledges the need to significantly alter the drug war strategy.

By Tracy Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times

Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Wednesday delivered an uncommonly blunt and dispiriting assessment of the broad sway held by violent drug traffickers throughout the besieged country.

From the "most modest little towns" to major cities, Calderon said, traffickers attack, intimidate and blackmail Mexican citizens as part of an illegal business that goes far beyond the simple transport of narcotics.

"Their business is no longer just the traffic of drugs. Their business is to dominate everyone else," Calderon said. "This criminal behavior is what has changed and become a defiance to the state, an attempt to replace the state" by exacting war taxes and taking up arms more powerful than those used by outgunned government forces.

Calderon was speaking in what appeared to be unscripted remarks during the last day of a three-day conference on national security held in Mexico City that has included the participation of church leaders, academics, security officials, business and civic groups and journalists.

He said the government would press ahead in its military-led battle against drug cartels. But in the unusually bleak portrait that he offered, he acknowledged the need to significantly alter the drug war strategy to include education as well as addiction and jobs programs and to involve greater segments of society, including religious groups.

More than 28,000 people have been killed in drug cartel-related violence, according to data newly released by the Mexican national intelligence service, since Calderon launched the offensive against drug trafficking shortly after taking office in December 2006.

"If the government were to stop fighting the criminals, there are those who think this would end the violence. I doubt it," Calderon said. "But are you really saying to me, Mr. President, don't mess with the criminals and let them just take away the Mexican people?"

Calderon for the first time said he would welcome a debate on whether drugs should be legalized, a controversial and politically fraught topic. On Tuesday, several participants in the conference urged legalization. Calderon warned that such a measure could endanger Mexican youth by making harmful drugs even more available.

Although Mexico last year decriminalized small amounts of some drugs, government officials, partly in response to U.S. pressure, have resisted further liberalization.

But Calderon's office issued a statement late Tuesday saying that while he remained opposed to legalization, he no longer opposed a debate.

"Drugs no longer taboo," headlined an editorial in El Universal newspaper, praising the president's change of heart as "democratic." Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, one of the main U.S. groups favoring legalization, also hailed Calderon's comments as a "big step forward" toward ending the violence and called on President Obama to join the debate.

At the conference, Calderon came under withering criticism from some participants who said the government had failed miserably in keeping the Mexican public informed about strategy and progress in the drug war.

"This has sowed desperation among the Mexican people," Roman Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera said.

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2 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

EN LA FOTO MOSTRADA EN http://www.imagendelgolfo.com.mx/resumen.php?id=190927 ESTA EL EJEMPLO DEL COMPORTAMIENTO DE LA POLICIA VERACRUZANA ----SUPERREALISMO EN MEXICO.----- Se enfrentan marinos y policías en Veracruz. Observe la foto, no importa lo que diga el articulo. ¿Cómo ganar la guerra contra el narcotráfico si los cuerpos de policías estatales, como el de Veracruz, actúan contra el Gobierno Federal? Observe a los policías estatales de Veracruz mancillando a un elemento de las FUERZAS ARMADAS MEXICANAS. Note a los policías veracruzanos amagando con sus armas a un SOLDADO MEXICANO como si fuese un CRIMINAL. http://www.imagendelgolfo.com.mx/resumen.php?id=190927 . (Compruebe que no existan espacios en blanco en la liga)

Anonymous said...

LA JUSTICIA NO FLORECE EN EL FANGO DE LA MENTIRA. Afortunadamente para los veracruzanos de buena fe que somos mayoría falta el veredicto del TRIFE. Empresarios piden avalar el fraude http://diariopresencia.com/nota.aspx?ID=19729&List={6E7751F4-8D18-4995-8D02-96402CDC9038} (ver el comentario de PROFESOR UNIVERSITARIO) Llama Dante lambiscones a empresarios que piden “civilidad”, sin conocer las presiones a que pueden estar sometidos (económicas o de integridad física) por parte del gobierno, audio http://www.xeu.com.mx/nota.cfm?id=238132 . El gobierno pone en boca de los empresarios las palabras de Duarte: “Si es que tanto quiere a Veracruz” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlgMNSH06xU (1:32 copie y pegue la liga HTTP en su navegador. Compruebe que no existan espacios en blanco).

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