Drug War Foes, Don’t Expect Much From Mexico’s New President

Sunday’s elections in Mexico brought Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) back into power under Enrique Peña Nieto.

Reuter’s today tracks some of Nieto’s early goals:

Peña Nieto has promised to lift economic growth to about 6 percent a year, create jobs and draw the heat out of a war with drug gangs that bogged down Calderon's administration. The conflict has killed more than 55,000 people since late 2006. …

The U.S. State Department said it expected close cooperation against organized crime to continue under Peña Nieto.

Just prior to the vote, Robert Beckhousen of Wired’s Danger Room warned that we should not expect to see a different attitude toward the drug war from Nieto:

Last week, Pieña Nieto recruited Colombian General Oscar Naranjo — a veteran of the war against the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar — as his top security adviser. Peña Nieto wants to boost Mexico’s Federal Police, and he’s for creating a new national paramilitary police force to fight the cartels.  His campaign has also been “highly solicitous” of the United States, notes Patrick Corcoran of InSight, an organized crime monitoring group. This could mean a bigger U.S. role. Naranjo is also reportedly close to U.S. officials.

PRI’s previous “corrupt” history of negotiating with cartels to keep a lid on violence has been raised in news stories as the party returns to power after a 12-year absence. Beckhousen doubts it’s even possible to go back to the old system:

Peña Nieto’s political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI), formerly maintained uninterrupted single-party rule for most of the 20th century. But when it lost power 12 years ago, it also lost a patronage system between regional party bosses and the cartels. This system meant drugs were allowed to flow relatively freely, provided physical disputes between the cartels didn’t get out of hand. But losing a (note: corrupt) system of checks and balances, beef between cartels escalated.

Nor is it likely that such a deal could be made today. In some states that maintained PRI rule, these networks were maintained but still failed to stop the surge in violence. Some of the state-level politicians with ties to the cartels are now being purged. In any case, the PRI will be governing a different Mexico: one in which corruption is still a major problem, but in which a single party is not able to maintain control over the entire governing apparatus. Another problem is that today’s cartels are smaller, a lot more numerous and increasingly decentralized. With so many cartels operating in Mexico today, who do you cut a deal with?

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  • tarran||

    Peña Nieto wants to boost Mexico’s Federal Police, and he’s for creating a new national paramilitary police force to fight the cartels.

    Oh, that's going to end well.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Sounds like fun!

  • SIV||

    Nieto should recruit from the Zetas. They seem very effective at fighting drug cartels.

  • Spittle of Rage||

    Jobs saved or created!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Anyway, I never heard of this Nieto. What inquiring minds want to know is, did Natalia Juarez win a seat in Congress?


  • Scott S.||

    If I'm reading the results right, she came in third in her race.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So there were...two ahead of her? *giggle*

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So you'd say she had...two boobs in front of her? *guffaw*

    Or that she is *sagging* in the polls? *chortle*

  • juris imprudent||

    Meet the new boss...

  • MattRomney||

    ...same as the old boss!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    So in the scenario where Mexico fails to either legalize or decriminialize, does Mexico become Singapore, do the cartels go back to doing business in the Caribbean, or does the Mexican government finally fail to function on any level?

    IMO, the next US military intervention will be south of the border, whatever Mexico decides to do.

  • ||

    i thought mexico ALREADY legalized personal possession of cocaine, etc. as long as the amounts were small

    was in the news a year or two back

  • BakedPenguin||

    Decrim, not legal

  • JeremyR||

    Mexico's views on drugs doesn't matter.

    The cartels are fighting over money, which comes from the US, not Mexico. All they are fighting for is territory in Mexico. And some of the violence seems to be from using slave labor to manufacture drugs. Or violence just because they find it fun, like that story about them capturing buses and making them fight each other to the death in gladiator bouts

  • Mr. FIFY||

    We don't expect anything good out of the president WE have... why should we be optimistic about the Mexican president?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was kinda hoping the new president of Mexico was Obama.

  • ||

    Don't give him any ideas about becoming the President of North America.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was thinking more OR operator than AND.

  • ||

    Maybe next time you should specify instead of being vague.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You should've viewed source.

  • ||

    Have either one of you written that Steve chapman blocking plugin for firefox yet?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Who, me? I'm a lawyer, not a coder.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'd ask Tony if any of these comments meets this benchmark:


    ...but he would just bitch about it being pedantic to use the dictionary, and he's probably too busy being bigoted against "breeders" anyway.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I'm pretty sure Mexico is more stringent on verification of BC than the US.


  • Pip from the forge||

    The conflict has killed more than 55,000 people since late 2006

    That conflict is going to need a good lawyer.

  • Pip from the forge||

    Hi Episiarch!

  • ||

    This guy's party is part of the Socialist International. Pinko drug warriors are just what Mexico needs, and he has lots to learn from Barack if he needs some tips.

  • Jerry on the road||

    It seems the Drug War is just one big make work project for the Mexican military.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It's their version of Keynesian economics... hire people to dig holes, then fill them up again.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    First they throw a body in.

  • MattRomney||

  • ||

    The conflict has killed more than 55,000 people since late 2006. …


    We have a 6 year long firing war along our boarder and our government is financing one side of it while our consumption of vice is financing the other side of it...

    Our news media is beyond fucked. Why are we even talking about the Arab spring?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Did the Fast and Furious gun-walking count in the "our government is financing one side of it"?

  • ||

    Sure. Our government finances both sides and our vices finance one side.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And that's how babies are made.

  • ||

    With so many cartels operating in Mexico today, who do you cut a deal with?

    Ummm who wrote this pile of shit.

    Who you deal with is who you chose to win among the cartels.

    Jesus fucking Christ do any reporters understand how corruption even works?

  • CE||

    Or America's current president.

  • PandyGandi||

    That dude doesnt seem to have a clue man!


  • MattRomney||

    True dat, anon bot, true dat.

  • JeremyR||

    Isn't the violence really between gangs, as opposed to between them and the government?

    From what I read, it started when one cartel recruited a bunch of ex-Army types to use as enforcers, who then split off and became the Zetas.

  • ChrisO||

    The drug war is good for business in Mexico, if you're in the political class. It's not going away anytime soon.


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