Mexican President Vows to Continue Drug Gang Crackdown

Posted September 2nd, 2011 at 8:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Mexico's president is vowing to fight to the last day of his term against the drug cartels that have spread insecurity and taken over towns and police forces across Mexico.

In a speech to the nation Friday, President Felipe Calderon said if the government backed down from its military crackdown, the country would be “totally dominated” by the drug gangs. He said the current strategy is the only way to “end this cancer” of drug trafficking and the ensuing violence.

A recent study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that less than half of Mexicans believe the government is making any progress in its campaign against drug cartels.

And with the next presidential election taking place in July 2012, polls show the main opposition party — the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party — is in the lead. The party held power for more than 70 years until 2000, when Vicente Fox, a member of the National Action Party that Mr. Calderon belongs to, was elected president.

It is estimated that more than 41,000 people have been killed since Mr. Calderon launched his hardline offensive against drug cartels after taking office nearly five years ago.

Last week, 52 people were killed in one of the worst single attacks against civilians, when gunmen set fire to a casino in the northern city of Monterrey.

President Calderon is constitutionally barred from seeking a second six-year term.