Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Mexico politics: Whither the war on drugs?

Posted in Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on September 2, 2010

by The Economist Intelligence Unit, September 1st, 2010.

There has been widespread domestic and international criticism of the Mexican government’s inability to tackle spiralling levels of drug-related violent crime. Increasingly, Mexicans are calling for a new approach to the drug war launched in late 2006. There are signs that the authorities are rethinking some elements of their security policy. President Felipe Calderón has even raised the possibility of a debate on the legalisation of drugs. A shift in strategy may well be needed, though that might not be the most likely one.

As the head of the armed forces, the president has had to be very careful in his use of words, as he cannot afford to undermine the morale of military and police units engaged in the anti-drug campaign. The message regarding legalisation came via Mr Calderón’s Twitter account, stating that although he personally was against it, he was not opposed to this issue being fully debated. (Others urging legalisation include his predecessor as president, Vicente Fox, and some leaders of the left-leaning opposition party, Partido de la Revolución Democrática). 

The willingness of Mr Calderón to encourage a discussion on legalisation marks a sharp break with the harsh language he had employed when referring to this issue during the first half of his six-year presidential term. It also suggests a potential shift in the government’s approach to security amid a mounting death toll from feuding drug gangs and growing public scepticism of the official efforts to improve public safety. (continue reading… )

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