From DMN report on Juarez: “The corruption is deeper than we ever imagined”
From the Dallas Morning News, Mexican officials defend drug war strategy as deaths rise, by Alfredo Corchado (an El Paso ex-pat, by the way).
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico – As the drug war’s bloodiest month ever in this border city ended, the administration of President Felipe Calderón defended its strategy for battling powerful drug cartels but signaled that it will make adjustments as needed.
In a visit to Ciudad Juárez last week, Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont said the administration is considering adjustments to the strategy – which relies on the deployment of thousands of soldiers and federal police agents – but insisted that any shift would come in response to a change in tactics by the cartels.
“This is not the moment for being complacent or for anticipating defeat,” Gómez Mont said. “The operation is going well, and it’s constantly being evaluated to make it more efficient. The operation will continue.”
Critics have said that the government’s approach relies too much on the military and not enough on local institutions such as local law enforcement authorities.
As of Friday night, at least 244 people had been killed in July in Ciudad Juárez, the highest monthly death toll since 1911 – during the Mexican revolution – and a 100 percent increase from a year ago, according to Norte de Ciudad Juárez newspaper, which keeps a daily tally.
In all, more than 2,800 people have been killed in the city since the battle for control of one of the most lucrative smuggling routes into the United States – with direct ties to North Texas – began in January 2008.
Nationwide, more than 4,000 people have been killed in organized-crime violence this year.
Although Gómez Mont did not elaborate on his comments, other Mexican and U.S. officials said the Calderón administration may begin withdrawing troops from Juárez and other trouble spots this fall, provided the situation has stabilized. The troops would be replaced by newly trained and better-paid police officers.
One senior Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the military does not have the training or intelligence capabilities to effectively take on the cartels.
“The truth is we miscalculated,” the official said. “The corruption is deeper than we ever imagined, and our human intelligence is weak.”