Either Mexican President Felipe Calderon has one of the most ambitious plans in the world or he is out-of-touch with reality.
Calderon, bristling at U.S. suggestions that Mexico is coming apart from drug violence, vows to bring the drug cartels under control by 2012. He hopes to be able to withdraw the military from the drug war by 2012 and leave the problem in the hand of local police.
Drug violence kills about 500 people a month in Mexico. Last year 6,290 deaths were attributed to it. The violence has doubled since Calderon came into office in 2006. He claims the increased violence is not because the drug cartels are getting stronger, but because they are under increased pressure.
Nevertheless, 53% of Mexicans think the government is losing the war. The recent arrests of hundreds associated with the Sinaloa cartel in the U.S. give evidence that the drug war maybe widening into the United States too.
Yet Calderon may have some justification for his claim. Cocaine prices have doubled over the last few years and purity has dropped by 35%.
Calderon blamed much of the drug cartel’s strength on American drug use, but any attempt to defeat the drug cartels depends on reforming the notoriously corrupt police and judiciary. The military, which is highly respected and disciplined, will have to remain free from the corruption as well.