Felipe Calderon is angry. Striking the podium, he insists that the explosion of violence in Mexico is the sole fault of organized crime. He reiterates his commitment to the war against drug trafficking, launched in December 2006, and to relentlessly pursue those responsible.
This vehement defense of his security strategy is directed not at the criminals themselves, but at a society in which the majority of the population increasingly rejects the president’s policy. On April 6, only a few days before the president was to address a group of entrepreneurs, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in over twenty Mexican cities in protest against “Calderon’s War” and against violence.
For Calderon, however, this new popular movement, under the banner NO + BLOOD, is misguided, politicized, and a betrayal of his pet cause. It is his view that those protesting should do so against organized crime, not against his government. In his speech, he accused the movement of using the language of peace to disguise a political attack on the Mexican government.
The thousands of youths, parents, indigenous women, and trade unions that participated in the protests do not see it that way. They do not dispute the fact that the brutality and audacity of the drug cartels are beyond the pale. Popular discontent, however, can be linked to one fact: In the years before Calderon launched his war, the number of homicides related to drug trafficking was approximately 2,000 per year (2,119 in 2006). In 2010, that figure reached 15,273.
The bloodshed in Mexico since 2007 cannot be measured only in the number of deaths. A recent report by the Monitoring Centre for Displaced Persons estimates that 230,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to threats and conflicts. There are approximately 10,000 orphans as a direct result of the violence. In the northern part of the country, the murder of women has increased sharply, as have other crimes against women, especially against human rights workers. Migrants have also fallen victim to the lucrative activities of the cartels, and an increase in kidnappings, extortion, and even recruitment of the migrants has been reported. The massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas in April 2010 was the most shocking example of a phenomenon that has spread across the country.
The War that Isn’t a War
The resultant chaos
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