New Mexican President signals shift in war on drugs strategy
Nieto wants the US to curb its appetite for drugs and stop smuggling guns into Mexico
Eric LaMont Gregory
Enrique Pena Nieto
Presidenr-elect Peña Nieto promised to shift his government's focus away from the cartel's drug smuggling operations and focus instead on protecting civilians caught in the crossfire. That crossfire had just taken the life of a young 22 year-old American journalist from Colorado who had written about the shooting of three federal policemen at the Mexico City airport.
Enrique Pena Nieto, who will become president on the 1st of December, plans to concentrate on reducing kidnappings, extortion and the raging gun battles on the streets, crimes that impact the quality of life of the Mexican people most. "The fight against crime will continue with a new strategy to reduce violence and above all protect the lives of all Mexicans," he said.
Nieto wants the US to reduce both the appetite of Americans north of our border for drugs and guns flooding in from the US that is fueling the violence in his country. Improving border security is a key ingredient if the US is to do more to curb the use of drugs at home, and stop illegal gun shipments into Mexico.
The Mexican president-elect has hired the Colombian general credited with defeating his country's own drug gangs. And plans to gradually withdraw the 40,000 soldiers deployed on Mexico's streets, replacing them with a sort of national gendarmerie focused on bringing down violence. It should be remembered that the American military played a significant part in bringing down the drug cartels in Colombia, a campaign which ignored certain regional realities which relocated the cartels to Mexico, and the violence followed them.
Mexican Presidents are constitutionally limited to one six-year term. While Washington may want assurances that Nieto will keep up the highly visible campaign against drug traffickers, rather than trade a softer approach for less violence on the streets. Nieto may, having positioned himself as the centrist candidate - as the socially progressive but more economically responsible alternative - actually address Mexico's big pocketbook problems, a lack of economic growth, gaping inequality, and its State owned monopolies.
Nieto will inherit a number of problems that it wants Washington to help sort out, high on the list is the increasing ties between Herzbollah and other Iranian back factions developing close ties with drug cartels, which puts Mexico in the front line of the war on terrorism. As information emerges that some 'fast and furious' guns may be in the hands of Iranian backed intelligence and terrorists groups the depths of the problem will only rise to crisis proportions.
Natrually, Enrique Pena Nieto, knows all too well that his forays into real reform have to be metered, because the gun still casts the loudest vote in Mexican politics.