More than 28,000 Mexicans have been killed in drug violence since the government began its crackdown on the cartels in 2006. And Mexican President Calderone doesn't see any signs that the violence is ebbing amid calls for the legalization of narcotics as this Los Angeles Times article points out:
"If the government were to stop fighting the criminals, there are those who think this would end the violence. I doubt it," Calderon said. "But are you really saying to me, Mr. President, don't mess with the criminals and let them just take away the Mexican people?"
Calderon for the first time said he would welcome a debate on whether drugs should be legalized, a controversial and politically fraught topic. On Tuesday, several participants in the conference urged legalization. Calderon warned that such a measure could endanger Mexican youth by making harmful drugs even more available.
Although Mexico last year decriminalized small amounts of some drugs, government officials, partly in response to U.S. pressure, have resisted further liberalization.
But Calderon's office issued a statement late Tuesday saying that while he remained opposed to legalization, he no longer opposed a debate.
"Drugs no longer taboo," headlined an editorial in El Universal newspaper, praising the president's change of heart as "democratic." Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, one of the main U.S. groups favoring legalization, also hailed Calderon's comments as a "big step forward" toward ending the violence and called on President Obama to join the debate.
The fact is, the writ of Mexican law does not run in large areas of the country controlled by the cartels. The population is terrified, the politicians paralyzed, and the army, in some quarters, suspect. The violence is already spilling over into the US and it may be only a matter of time before the cartels move north in order to escape the continuing pressure put on them by Calderone.
What do you think Washington's response might be to that?