Thursday, July 15, 2010

Calderón, Four Years On

The Economist has a pretty good summary of the circumstances in which Felipe Calderón finds himself just two years from the election to succeed him:
The cost of Mexico’s paralysis is rising. The economy was badly hit by the great recession, thanks to its umbilical link to the United States. An initially strong recovery now seems to be stuttering. At the same time Mr Calderón’s crusade against Mexico’s powerful drug gangs has prompted vicious turf wars in northern cities. Most of the 23,000 killed since 2006 appear to have been gangsters slaughtered by their rivals but some innocent people have died and, days ahead of an election involving 12 state governorships on July 4th, the PRI candidate in the border state of Tamaulipas was gunned down. His death prompted not a surge of national solidarity but further partisan squabbling between the president and the PRI; and public support for the crusade is waning.

Mr Calderón, a decent man, must take part of the blame for Mexico’s malaise. He has chosen loyalty over competence in his cabinet. He has proved inept at forging the political deals required to approve his reforms. And his plans for improving security are flawed.

Although some significant drug barons have been captured or killed, and the United States has been prodded into doing a bit more to stop the southbound flow of guns and money to the traffickers, the security strategy has been poorly implemented. Deploying the army was supposed to buy time to build a 100,000-strong federal police force, but only 12,000 new police, half of them soldiers on secondment, have been recruited. Nor has the government done anything to prevent several million young men with poor education and no proper job from being potential recruits for the drug gangs.

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