Breaking News:We Just Won an Old Fight

Latin America: Mexico's President Says Fighting Drugs, Crime His Highest Priority

Marking his first year in office, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said Saturday that fighting the war on drugs and organized crime remained his highest priority. The speech came as the death toll in this year's prohibition-related violence topped 2,000 -- making it the bloodiest year yet in Mexico's drug war -- and as the US Congress contemplates a $500 million anti-drug assistance package crafted by the Calderón and Bush administrations.

"The biggest threat to Mexico's future is lack of public safety and organized crime," Calderón said in a speech at the National Palace. "But with one year in office, I am more convinced than ever that we are going to win this battle."

Just as he began his first year in office by sending troops into Baja California and Michoacán, so Calderón marked its end by army special forces into Reynosa, Tamaulipas, on the Texas border. The area, where the Gulf Cartel is powerful, was the scene of the assassination last week of former Río Bravo Mayor Juan Antonio Guajardo and five companions.

But while the violence continues and the drugs flow north seemingly unabated, Calderón claimed success in the battle, citing the arrest of more than 14,000 people in the drug trade, including 20 regional drug trafficker captains, as well as the extradition of leading traffickers to the US. He also hailed what he called Mexico's largest drug bust, the seizure November of 26 tons of cocaine. That came only a month after authorities in northern Mexico seized another 11 tons of the white powder.

"With each drug confiscation, with each criminal behind bars, with each zone we recover from organized crime, we drive away our children from addictions, from violence and from delinquency," Calderón declared.

While Calderón has controversially deployed more than 24,000 soldiers in his drug war, he did not mention the role of the military in his speech. The military has been criticized for human rights violations.

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Lawless law

As an American living in Mexico close to a u.s. boarder I can tell you the police have become a gang of complete hoodlums with the blessing, I fear, of the Calderon government. The cops ride around in pickup trucks, armed to the teeth, three in the front, four in the back, carrying machine guns and dressed like paramilitaries. They swoop down on anyone walking alone and do full body searches. I've been searched four times in one week. Each time it is a frightening and degrading experience.
Mostly the cops in Mexico move peasant people i.e. anyone locked out of the Mexican spoils system i.e. most Mexicans, from one place to another in the most barbaric conditions imaginable.
The other day while standing on a busy street corner waiting to cross, three cop trucks stopped and disgorged their prey: six eldery peasants and a few men and women, possibly an extended family. Old women actually in cuffs! The most shocking part was when they were loaded into the back of a flatbed truck that had a sort of small shed the size of a dog house on it with no venilation to speak of---All six elderly people were stuffed in this dogshed box and driven away to god knows where.
This type of barbarism has always been a part of most third world police tactics but never so openly flaunted in Mexico even up to two years ago.

Wither Mexico?

Ephod Jesperson

farther faster?

The "War on Drugs" has been the altar upon which most of the civil liberties of this country have been sacrificed, but it has been a slow and steady drive since the time of Nixon with some ups and downs.

Calderon seems eager to rush down the road to a police state. The money that the Bush administration is providing is enough to make any government (or is that criminal) class salivate. Can he race to the finish without another revolution in Mexico? That is my question.

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