AP Interview: President Felipe Calderon sees a drug war success
Lipstick on the pig? Or plastic surgery?
TIJUANA, Mexico — President Felipe Calderon calls Tijuana a success in his four-year-old war on drug cartels, though he is unsure that making the border city safer has reduced the flow of drugs to the United States.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Mexican leader noted that many of the city’s crime bosses have been captured in the past two years and said far fewer residents are being kidnapped and extorted. A key ingredient to its success, he said, is that its people trust authorities to help keep them safe more than in other cities plagued by violence.
That’s unfair, and not nice.
“In Ciudad Juarez, unfortunately, there has not been the same degree of collaboration and constructive attitude that we have found in other places, like Tijuana,” he said. “Instead of everyone working together, they preferred the easy way out by blaming everything on the federal government and the president.”
But gives no reason for the difference, other than Tijuana residents “trust the government more”.
Calderon said Tijuana’s peace is precarious and acknowledged that the city’s murder rate has risen this year. Still, he noted that the murder rate is below a record high in 2008 and that assassinations of police officers have almost stopped after dozens were gunned down last year in the line of duty.
Nuevo Laredo, along the Texas border, also settled into a period of calm after a horrific wave of violence in 2005 only to see killings surge again recently in a battle between Gulf cartel and the Zetas, a breakaway drug gang made up of former Mexican special forces soldiers.
Calderon said Tijuana appears different than Nuevo Laredo and other cities along the Texas border, where he suggested the fleeting peace resulted from a temporary arrangement between criminal organizations.
Mexico has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Are they inconsistent? Vicente Fox, the previous President of Mexico, favors legalization of drugs. Get with it, Calderon.
Calderon said he didn’t know if the sense of calm in Tijuana has resulted in fewer drugs being smuggled from there into California.
“The reality is that while the United States continues to consume drugs, drug trafficking will not go away,” he said. “The surveys on drug use in the United States are truly disappointing. Instead of a reduction, there is an increase.”
He was sharply critical of a Nov. 2 ballot measure in California that would legalize possession of small quantities of marijuana and pave the way for local governments to allow retail sales of the drug, saying it reflects a “terrible inconsistency” in U.S. drug policy.
It is a longish interview. Read the whole thing if you’re interested. These are just little excerpts.