|Photo Credit: Ardelfin|
On July 1, Mexicans go to the polls to choose a new president. Since 2006, when Filipe Calderón became Mexico's President and made the army the cornerstone in his fight against drugs, the death toll has exceeded 50,000. None of the three major candidates suggest stopping the war on drugs, but all suggest removing the army from law enforcement.
The current front-runner, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leader Mr. Peña Nieto, gives cause for alarm. Until 2000, the PRI held Mexico in a stranglehold of corruption and authoritarianism. However, when rumors arose that he would make peace with the Mexican drug cartels, his popularity began to slide.
Although the PRI was corrupt, it also introduced many social programs and reduced poverty. Besides, with a divided congress it won't have its past clout.
The noninvolvement of the military means local and state police will need to be increased, trained, and reorganized, as well a cleaned-up because many are involved in the drug cartels.
The other two leading candidates are Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who narrowly lost in 2006 and Josefina Váquez Mota, of the incumbent National Action Party. All three have sworn to make reducing the body count a major priority.
During the past year, Mr. Calderón stepped up calls for Mexico's Congress to solidify the military's role in fighting crime, broaden its powers and tighten money laundering laws. He has hoped, seemingly unsuccessfully, to make his war on drugs a victory and the legacy of his presidency.
Violence in Mexico is spreading into the United States and is seen as a joint problem. However, the United States government does not want to be seen as interfering in its neighbor’s internal matters. Nor, by the way, should it interfere. Mr. Calderón worked closely with the United States and declared a war on drugs. It didn't work. Hopefully, the next Mexican president will begin to work on the underlying problem, which is poverty and a lack of ability to get ahead in a country that needs greater economic equity and opportunities for everyone. Mexicans are less apt than Americans to consume drugs. They only grow, deal and sell the stuff. It is, after all, a way to earn a living.