Marking his first year in office, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said Dec. 1 that fighting the war on drugs and organized crime remain his highest priority. The speech came as the death toll in 2007 narco violence topped 2,000—making it the bloodiest year yet. “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.” Having started his first year by sending army troops into Baja California and Michoacán, Calderón marked its end by dispatching army special forces into Reynosa, Tamulipas, on the Texas border.
Near Reynosa in Rio Bravo, the town’s former mayor and recent mayoral candidate with the leftist Labor Party (PT) Juan Antonio Guajardo was gunned down Nov. 29 along with five companions, including his brother and three federal police agents, in an attack by an “armed commando” in the center of town.
Claiming success despite growing violence, Calderón cited the arrest of more than 14,000 accused traffickers, including 20 regional captains, and the extradition of leading traffickers to the US. He also hailed what he called Mexico’s largest drug bust, the Oct. 30 seizure of 26 tons of cocaine in Manzanillo, Colima, which was publicly burned to much fanfare. “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.
Although Calderón has deployed more than 24,000 soldiers in his drug war effort, he did not mention the role of the military in his speech. The military has been criticized for human rights violations. (Drug War Chronicle, Dec. 7; Hoy Tamaulipas, Nov. 29; NYT, Nov. 29; AP, Nov. 2)
See our last post on Mexico and the narco wars.
Billion $ wars to save 1.7 million US cocaine abusers?
In 2006, there were 2.4 million current cocaine users. That’s 1 percent of the population, the same percentage of people in a recent Zogby poll who said they would (0.6%), or might (0.4%) use hard drugs like cocaine and heroine if they were legal. (See http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle_blog/2007/dec/05/poll_hard_drug_legalization_little_use)
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2006, 1.7 million of these past-month users are properly classified with dependence on or abuse of cocaine. (http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k6NSDUH/2k6results.cfm#Fig7-2)
The US has promised Mexico $1.4 billion to fight the drug cartels. (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN10430087)
That’s $583 per US cocaine user, or $824 per US cocaine abuser.
US policy makers acknowledge that the $1.4 billion spent in Mexico won’t reduce cocaine consumption in the US. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said last week the drug war would not be won during his six-year term. Media reports say smaller drug gangs are now flourishing in areas where bigger cartels have been weakened. (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN10430087)
Why don’t we just legalize and regulate drugs to get them out of the hands of cartels, and addressing drug abuse through treatment and education?