Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, center, rides a military vehicle next to his Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan, left, his Navy Secretary Adm. Mariano Francisco Saynez, right, and Tamaulipas state governor Egidio Torre Cantu during a ceremony marking the Army Day in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
President Felipe Calderon promised minimum monthly pensions of 10,000 pesos ($830) for the spouses of soldiers killed in action, during a speech Saturday praising the army's fight against drug cartels.
Spouses of slain soldiers already receive their pensions, but the amount varies. A total of 191 Mexican soldiers were killed fighting drug gangs between December 2006 and Aug. 1, 2010, the latest date for which figures are available.
Calderon said the armed forces have seized 100,000 weapons since he dispatched troops to fight the cartels at the start of his term more than four years ago.
"It has become clear and will be made even more clear that here in Mexico, there is no force more powerful than the armed forces," Calderon said at an army base in the border city of Reynosa, in the violence-plagued state of Tamaulipas.
Calderon said he will send four additional battalions to Tamaulipas, where cartels are fighting bloody turf battles. He did not say whether they will be new recruits or transferred from elsewhere.
The president also said the soldiers will get better armoured vehicles and bulletproof vests.
Calderon said he will propose a 50 per cent increase in pensions for soldiers who retire with 20 to 29 years of service. He noted that overall, pay for the lowest-paid members of the armed forces has more than doubled since he took office.
Calderon has deployed more than 40,000 troops throughout Mexico since he launched an offensive against drug gangs.
Nearly 35,000 people have died in drug violence since then.