Candidates in Mexico Signal a New Tack in the Drug War

The top three contenders for Mexico’s presidency have all promised a major shift in the country’s drug war strategy, placing a higher priority on reducing the violence in Mexico than on using arrests and seizures to block the flow of drugs to the United States. The candidates, while vowing to continue to fight drug trafficking, say they intend to eventually withdraw the Mexican Army from the drug fight. They are concerned that it has proved unfit for police work and has contributed to the high death toll, which has exceeded 50.000 since the departing president, Felipe Calderón, made military a cornerstone of his battle against drug traffickers more than five years ago. The front-runner, Enrique Peña Nieto, does not emphasize stopping drug shipments or capturing drug kingpins as he enters the final weeks of campaigning for July 1 election. Lately he has suggested that while Mexico should continue to work with United States government against organized crime, it should not “subordinate to the strategies of other countries”. “The task of the state, what should be its priority from my point of view, and what I have called for in this campaign, is to reduce the levels of violence,” he said in an interview. United States officials have been careful not to publicly weigh in on the race or prospect of a changed strategy, for fear of being accused of meddling. One senior Obama administration official said on Friday that Mr. Peña Nieto’s demand that the United States respect Mexican priorities “is a sound bite he is using for obvious political purposes.” In private meetings, official said, “what we basically get is that he fully appreciates and understands that if/when he wins, he is going to keep working with us”. Still, the potential shift, reflecting the thinking of a growing number of crime researchers, has raised concern among some American policy makers. “Will there be a situation where next president just turns a blind eye to the cartels, ceding Mexico to the cartels, or will they be a willing partner with United States to combat them?” Representative Ben Quayle, an Arizona Republican, asked at a hearing this month in Phoenix. “I hope it’s the latter.” The 2 other principal candidates, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who narrowly lost the race in 2006 and is gaining in polls, and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the incumbent National Action Party, have joined Mr. Peña Nieto in promising to make it their priority to reduce the body count, which has spiraled out of control during Mr. Calderón’s six-year tenure. “Results will be measured not by how many criminals are captured, but by how stable and secure the communities are,” Ms. Vázquez Mota wrote on her campaign Web site. Mr. López Obrador, whose security strategy is called “Abrazos, no balazos,” or “Hugs, not bullets”, has criticized how United States officials have approached securing Mexico. “They should send us cheap credit, not military helicopters”. Mr. Calderón, who is constitutionally limited to one term, used army more aggressively in fighting drugs than any Mexican leader, overshadowing his attempts to improve Mexican institutions. All 3 candidates vow on stump to devote attention to programs that address social inequality that leads young people to join criminal groups (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Candidates in Mexico Signal a New Tack in the Drug War

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The ‘war in drugs’ used by Pres Calderon to justify his questionable election victory is over. The reason is very simple. From a military standpoint, It cannot be won by the Mexican state and there is no exit strategy. It is a war being fought in Mexican soil with Mexican blood and money. The next president will have to declare victory and find a political solution with the drug cartels. Back to status quo ante Calderon.


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