Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Friday that he will fight to the last day of his term to defeat the drug cartels that have taken over towns, police forces and institutions in parts of Mexico.
Calderon also promised in his annual state-of-the-nation address to clean up corruption among police and federal attorneys by the time he leaves office in December 2012.
In his second-to-last year in office, Calderon cut much of the usual fanfare around the speech out of respect for 52 civilians who died last week in a casino fire, a presumed extortion attack by Zetas cartel members in the northern city of Monterrey.
A police officer has been arrested in the attack. The Monterrey mayor's brother has been questioned regarding casino-related corruption.
Calderon announced the creation of a federal prosecutor dedicated entirely to victims of violence. The prosecutor's job will be to identify victims and find people who have disappeared at the hands of criminal groups.
Calderon has come under fire from victims' groups for minimizing the impact of violence on innocents. One of those groups is headed by the poet Javier Sicilia, who lost his son to an attack by drug gangs.
The new prosecutor "will take a major step to close the wounds that have opened in the country," Calderon said.
Last week he called the casino fire the worst incident of drug-related violence involving civilians in his term and declared three days of national mourning.
After encounters with the general public, Calderon said it became clear that "victims should be the center of our attention."