Poll Suggests Calderon’s Drug War Hurt by Lack of Coherent Strategy

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A new poll found that just 21 percent of Mexican voters say that the government’s anti-crime strategy is working, a sign that Felipe Calderon’s administration has failed to clearly articulate its security strategy to the public.

The poll, conducted for Mexican newspaper El Universal, US newspaper the Dallas Morning News, and its Spanish-language version Al Dia, found that less than a quarter of those surveyed said the government’s strategy was working.

The poll’s findings are very similar to a survey released last year by the Pew Research Center. Both reported growing support among Mexicans for an increased US role in fighting Mexico’s criminal groups. The surveys also found an overwhelming majority supported the use of the military to fight drug traffickers.

InSight Crime Analysis

Considering that the Calderon government’s strategy focuses on using the military to fight organized crime, it is noteworthy that public opinion surveys consistently find widespread approval for use of the military, but disapproval of the government’s overall approach. If this discrepancy exists, it is a symptom of the government’s failure to clearly articulate their strategy.

Aside from prioritizing large troop deployments in Mexico’s most violence-racked cities, including Ciudad Juarez, the government’s strategy has been mostly reactive: sending in the security forces to wherever the latest well-publicized surge of violence happens to be.

The other problem is the government’s confused rhetoric about what constitutes success in its anti-crime campaign. Over the years security officials have consistently argued that Mexico’s worsening violence is actually a sign that the militarized strategy is working. But then, in areas like Ciudad Juarez where violence actually drops, the government is quick to claim victory.

What is clear is that many Mexicans still support Calderon’s emphasis on security. This seems to have remained the case even though many disapprove of how the strategy is being implemented, as this recent newspaper poll reveals.

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