Calderon: US Drug Demand Impedes Mexico's Growth
Don't call the War on Drugs a "war" to outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "I don’t like the term 'war' because ultimately it is not about the drugs," he said in his most recent interview, at the APEC conference in Vladivostok this weekend. "What I would like is for Mexico to become a rule-of-law state where people feel safe. My priority is not to eradicate drugs, but to create a secure environment for our people and their families." Calderon, whose six-year term of office comes to an end in December—when he will be replaced by Enrique Pena Nieto—also made clear his view that the demand for drugs in the US has impeded Mexican economic growth. "The main reason for our drug trafficking problem is that the US is the main drug consumer in the world," he says. "This backfired on Mexico and many other countries. If the demand for drugs were to decrease in the US, we would indeed have fewer problems." Calderon says his administration has made progress in curbing the corruption of law enforcement agencies and re-establishing the credibility of governmental bodies. Still, he acknowledges that major problems remain: "Not only do criminal gangs smuggle drugs into the US, they also attempt to distribute them across Latin America. This leads to turf wars and breeds violence. In spite of this, last year saw a significant decline in violence and the number of murders. We are working on it, but there is still miles to go." Calderon's leadership has seen Mexico attempting to reduce its dependence on US assistance on this issue. His administration set up a large-scale database monitoring criminal activity that it shares with other Central American states, and a designated organization at a regional level is set to coordinate those efforts.