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Mexico's Calderón Shifts Gears on Security Agenda

Monday, Nov. 9, 2009

TORREÓN, Mexico -- Ever since Mexico's Felipe Calderón took office in 2006, his presidency has been irrevocably identified with one issue more than any other: security. Calderón has staked the credibility of his administration, not to mention the country's bilateral relationship with the United States, on attacking drug runners, dismantling kidnapping syndicates, and making Mexico an overall safer country.

But despite some improvements in Mexico's institutional capacity to fight crime, Calderón's security gamble has largely backfired. The present levels of drug-related violence are worse than ever before, and Ciudad Juárez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, has become the hemisphere's most violent city -- if the not the world's. Meanwhile, Mexico remains one of the worst countries in the world on kidnapping. So while Calderón remains personally popular, crime is a major reason why his party looks like a spent force, having been soundly trounced in the July midterms. ...

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