Nearly half the Mexican public considers President Felipe Calderon's offensive against drug cartels a failure, a poll suggested Tuesday for the first time since the conservative leader launched the deadly crackdown in 2006.
The survey shows 49 percent of respondents consider the crackdown has failed, compared with just 33 percent who think it has succeeded. Last time the Mitofsky polling agency conducted the same survey, in March, the results were almost the opposite, with 47 percent of those polled considering the drug war a success, while 36 percent thought it a failure.
Observers say the turnaround in opinion is a reflection of the public's growing impatience with the crackdown, which has seen more than 28,000 people killed since December 2006.
"This is precisely because (people) aren't seeing insecurity go down," said Eduardo Gallo, whose association, Mexico United Against Violence, sponsored the survey.
The polling numbers bear out Gallo's hypothesis, with 83 percent of respondents saying Mexico is more dangerous now than a year ago, compared with 15 percent saying it was less dangerous.
Calderon defended the government's record, saying in a speech Tuesday that the violence plaguing certain regions of the country is the responsibility of the cartels and not a result of government actions.
"There are those who think that it would have been better not to combat the criminal actions," Calderon said during a visit to the state of Colima, where the former governor was slain over the week. "Those people are wrong."
Tuesday's survey was carried out via face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people from Oct. 28-31 by the Mitofsky polling agency for Mexico United Against Violence. The poll had with a margin of error of fewer than 3.1 percentage points.