|Photos of victims hang on walls of homes outside Mexico City|
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Miami. --I very much doubt that when people ask about Felipe Calderon, after he leaves office, they will say he was the employment president, as he promised in the 2006 electoral campaign. What people will say is that Calderon was the president of the dead. Many dead.
How many? Impossible to count with absolute precision. Based on government numbers, communications media speak of approximately 65,000 deaths during Calderon's six year term. But there are more. The journal Proceso published an independent investigation that calculated 88,361 deaths from December, 2006, to March of this year. And the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) counted a total of 95,000 up to the fifth year of the Calderon government's six-year term.
Whatever the correct number may be, it is unacceptable. No strategy against drug trafficking can be called successful, in any country in the world, which leaves more than 65,000 dead. The deaths describe a gigantic failure, incompetence and simple stupidity.
Didn't anybody think something was wrong when the deaths went over a thousand? What about when they surpassed 10 or 20 thousand murders? President Calderon didn't change course. On the contrary, he continued with the wrong strategy and the number of dead continued to grow. That's why they're Calderon's dead. And that's why it went so badly for his party, the PAN, in the last election. It was, in part, a punishment vote.
His government insists that many of the dead are criminals. True. But many were not. If the majority of the 65,000 dead had been drug traffickers and criminals, there would be no criminals left in Mexico.
The reality is that there is no Mexican family that has not been touched by a murder, a kidnapping, a robbery, or by fear. Mexicans lost their streets and their public places. They also lost the already faint hope that the police and authorities could protect them. Impunity rules. 98.5% of crimes in Mexico go unpunished, according to a study by the Monterrey Technological Institute. That's also why the victims do not denounce criminal acts. What for?
Here, I am not doubting Calderon's courage in confronting drug traffickers. Of course it requires a lot of courage to fight against the worst Mexican criminals, armed with American pistols and rifles, and willing to send their merchandise, at whatever cost, to the insatiable drug market in the United States. What I am questioning here is the intelligence of choosing a strategy that only produces Mexican deaths and that has not reduced the production, traffic or the consumption of drugs.
This is the war that Calderon started and lost. It's his responsibility. And it is a war. Just like George W. Bush committed a terrible mistake in starting the war in Iraq in 2003, when there were no weapons of mass destruction there.
Calderon likewise erred seriously when he started a war against the narcos without the necessary preparation, without an elite group to do it with and without a measurable objective. In the end, the number of deaths in the nine years of war in Iraq (109,726, according to IraqBodyCount.org) is very similar to that of Calderon's six year war against the narco. Both are wars. Both failures. And thousands of innocents are dead.
Calderon's government never considered that this was a war that was lost before it started. There are drug traffickers in Mexico because there are drug consumers in the United States. 22 million Americans have used drugs recently, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Colorado and Washington State have just authorized the recreational use of marihuana and 16 others allow its medical use. It's enough to watch any Hollywood movie to see that the use of drugs is absolutely generalized in American society. Stopping its consumption is not a priority for its politicians.
This is what Calderon didn't see or didn't want to see. While Mexicans are killing each other in a narco war without a concrete objective, Americans make the consumption of drugs even easier. Of course, I'm not advocating negotiation with the drug cartels. Neither should they be allowed to control our streets, our businesses or our political system. But what Calderon has done so far has not worked.
|San Fernando Tamaulipas|
Calderon is leaving, but he leaves us many cemeteries. And a failed anti-drug policy that will cost a lot to dismantle and replace. But the worst thing is a terrible sensation that we were deceived. Calderon was never clear in the 2006 electoral campaign about his strategy against the narcos, and today he leaves us a bloodied and demoralized country.
Had they known, many would not have voted for him.
No, we will not remember him as the employment president. Calderon will always be remembered as the president of the dead.