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  HOME | Mexico

Calderon: Drugs Can’t Be Eliminated but Crime Can

By Patricia Vazquez

MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Felipe Calderon acknowledged Friday in an interview with Efe the impossibility of doing away with drugs but believed that the government’s goal should be “freeing citizens” from organized crime.

“My goal is to free the citizenry from the oppression of criminals and not to eliminate drugs because that is simply impossible,” said the president coming up to the mid-point of his six-year term.

He said that in his remaining three years leading the nation he plans to wipe out organized crime and recover for the Mexican state “the ability to control, command, and impose its own law to the benefit of citizens.”

When he took power in 2006, Calderon found Mexico afflicted by an organized crime that was “affecting the lives of families...blackmailing, kidnapping, intimidating,” he said.

He warned that he would not be intimidated by threats or blackmail from drug traffickers or other sectors and said that he “was not worried” for his own safety.

“I decided to live my life to the full without worrying about costs or risks” and “I went into politics because it’s my way of serving,” the president said, adding that he was very satisfied with his life and work.

At another point in the interview, Calderon denied that Mexico is the most violent country in the Americas, pointing out that the murder rate for every 100,000 inhabitants in his country is less than in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and some others.

“It’s a problem of perception we have to correct,” the president said, acknowledging that despite the “solid objectives” achieved, Mexico has not managed to inspire the same confidence as other nations.

He believed that the action of organized crime “is a problem of the region, that goes beyond the region” because it also occurs in countries like Colombia, where drugs are produced for consumption in European nations and in the United States.

“It’s not right that (Latin) America contributes deaths and the United States and Europe are the consumers,” he said.

About the possible legalization of drug use, the president said that such an approach was not feasible “without (global) agreement on public policies.”

He said the objective is to “end the economic power of the black market for drugs,” but that cannot be done as long as drugs remain illegal in some countries and not in others.

The president acknowledged the existence of a “fierce battle” among drug cartels, which, according to press accounts, has caused in the three years of his government more than 15,000 deaths, 6,500 of them to date in 2009.

As for the possible return to the barracks of the close to 45,000 army soldiers he deployed to Mexico’s most strife-torn states, Calderon said that “the process will be gradual and will take a lot of time.”

The president specifically proposed to analyze this week the possibility of unifying Mexico’s more than 1,600 police forces.

In that sense, he told Efe that Mexico could take as an example for such a process the police models existing in Canada with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and in Spain with the Civil Guard. EFE

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