The policy of using the military and national police, begun under President Vicente Fox and embraced by Felipe Calderon when he took office in 2006, has had many successes, CNN reported. For example, last year 16 leaders of the notorious Zeta cartel were arrested or killed, but the Zetas appear to be conducting business as usual.
Fox now advocates decriminalization of drugs. Another critic, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda cited the cost of the drug war in an article in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"Mexico has paid an enormous price: almost 50,000 dead, almost $50 billion in additional security costs, ever more numerous human rights violations, (and) a great discrediting of the country to the world," he wrote.
Calderon acknowledged in his New Year's message that victory remains elusive. He suggested the war will continue while recognizing Mexicans do not feel safe.
"That's why my government has worked with great firmness on this task, and we have done it with a comprehensive vision," he said. "We are combating from the roots a problem that grew during many, many years. We have acted with a firm decision to put a stop to those who hurt Mexicans, honest and hardworking, like I know you and your family are."