...[there have been] close to 11,000 deaths [in Mexico] in just two years. Figures very far from those left by dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, and Guatemala: the first had an average of 83 deaths a year on average; the second 136, and the Guatemalan, 589 deaths a year.
First of all, this is an imperfect comparison, as Mexico's deaths are the product of crime and not state repression. More important, I'm not sure how he comes to those figures, which are confirmed as quite incorrect by some simple arithmetic. Some 3,000 Chileans were murdered during Pinochet's 17 years (but most in the years right after the coup), 30,000 Argentines were killed in the seven-year military dictatorship, and an estimated 200,000 were killed in the three and a half decades of Guatemala's civil war. Furthermore, all of these countries were far smaller than Mexico today--Argentina in 1976 had about one quarter of Mexco's present population, Chile one eleventh in 1973, and Guatemala in 1960 had less than 4 million citizens, or roughly 1/28th of the present Mexican population. Which is to say, even excluding crime, each of the above countries had murder rates far higher than Mexico's today based on state repression and civil conflict alone. Moreover, the death tally alone doesn't take into account the exiles, extralegal arrests, torture centers, et cetera, all adding up to a national psychological trauma far exceeding anything Mexico has experienced since at least the Cristero war. Perhaps I overstate it, but I'd say such a blatantly disingenuous passage calls into question every word in the article.
Lastly, Peñalosa closes his article with would seem to be a central part of his thesis, an impassioned call for Calderón to not focus only on the mano dura, but to also include more of a holistic social approach to the war on drugs. That conclusion lasts for more than a thousand words, but it does not include one single specific proposal for the type of programs he is talking about. Not one. Aside from attacking Calderón, what does his softer, smarter alternative to Mexico's drug wars amount to? I have no idea. It's easy to forgive a lack of specifics in a column, but Peñalosa's piece ran some 10,000 words. He had ample space to fill readers' heads with policy sketches, and instead he coughed up deceptions and generalizations.