State and federal security forces killed 12 gunmen said to be connected to La Familia narco syndicate June 26 in Apaseo El Alto, a small village near the popular resort town of San Miguel Allende in Mexico’s central Guanajuato state. Two days earlier in Ciudad Juárez, unidentified assailants tossed petrol bombs into a billiard hall and a money exchange office—the latest in a string of apparently retaliatory arson attacks. More than 30 businesses were burned in the city last year. A June 7 battle killed 16 gunmen and two soldiers in the Pacific beach resort of Acapulco. Official tallies place the toll of drug-related violence in Mexico at 3,000 so far this year—and 10,800 since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006. Calderón said this week that Mexico is at an “historic crossroads” in the war on the narco gangs.
Speaking at a Mexico City conference on security June 24, Calderón addressed the upcoming midterm elections. “What is at stake today is not just the result of an election, but rather the future of democracy, of representative institutions,” he said. For many years, Calderón said, “crime was allowed to grow, expand and penetrate. Perhaps people thought it was a manageable thing.” He accused other politicians of weakness: “To turn one’s head, to act as if you don’t see the crime in front of you, as some politicians want to do, is no option for Mexico.”
Calderón said narco gangs are carrying out “an interminable recruitment of young people without hope, family, opportunities, future, beliefs or convictions.” He added, “They turn up dead in some morgue, and nobody claims their bodies, as happens with more than 30% of the bodies in the most violent cities, like Ciudad Juárez.”
Calderón also called for making legislators more accountable to the public. He broached reducing the number of congressional seats and allowing legislators to serve more than one term, making them eligible to face the judgment of voters by running for re-election. He did not say if this would also apply to the presidency. (LAT, June 27; Houston Chronicle, June 26; NYT, June 25)