New twist in Mexican drug war as Mexican presidential candidates back away from helping the U.S.

Jun 12, 2012, 9:03 AM | Updated: 9:03 am

Mexico goes to the polls July 1 to select its next president. The three leading candidates to replace President Felipe Calderón all generally agree on at least one issue: no more cow-towing to the U.S. when it comes to a very bloody drug war that has killed more than 50,000 Mexicans since 2006.

In an article that appeared on the front page of Monday’s New York Times, Randal Archibold and Damien Cave wrote, “The top three contenders for Mexico’s presidency have all promised a major shift in the country’s drug war strategy, placing a higher priority on reducing the violence in Mexico than on using arrests and seizures to block the flow of drugs to the United States. … (Front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto) has suggested that while Mexico should continue to work with the United States government against organized crime, it should not ‘subordinate to the strategies of other countries.’”

NPR published a two-part series last week scrutinizing the imminent presidential election in Mexico. As part of those articles NPR reported, “The candidate who leads in the polls, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has said that if elected, he will change the current unpopular strategy of an all-out war against the cartels and focus on reducing violent crimes against Mexicans. … (The U.S.) remains a big supporter of Calderon’s hit-’em-hard strategy. The State Department has sent Mexico hundreds of millions of dollars in aircraft, training and law enforcement equipment.”

Last month The Atlantic summed up the huge toll the drug war has exacted upon America’s neighbor to the south: “Since Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón began an all-out assault on drug cartels in 2006, more than 50,000 people have lost their lives across the country in a nearly-continuous string of shootouts, bombings, and ever-bloodier murders.”

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New twist in Mexican drug war as Mexican presidential candidates back away from helping the U.S.