Calderon defends fight against drug gangs

Sept. 4, 2012 at 8:38 AM
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MEXICO CITY, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon says history will vindicate his use of the military to subdue the country's violent drug cartels.

His controversial strategy came with a heavy toll: the deaths of 50,000 people whose killings were linked to the drug cartels, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In his final state of the union message Monday, Calderon said in time, his actions will be viewed as creating a better society for Mexicans.

He noted under his administration, 22 of 37 of the country's most wanted criminals had been "neutralized."

The federal police force mushroomed from 6,000 officers to 36,000, and background checks were initiated for all officers, he said.

Calderon said he had sought to "reconstruct the laws and institutions of security and justice with a long-term vision." The government created national programs for drug treatment and safe schools, the president said.

Libraries, parks and sports facilities were built in Cuidad Juarez where Calderon took credit for the 77 percent reduction in homicides.

His efforts have been met with mixed reviews. His approval rating was 46 percent in an August poll by Mitofsky International, but that was up from 37 percent in July just before the presidential election in which the candidate of Calderon's party came in third.

Another poll in late August conducted by the newspaper Reforma found his approval rating at 64 percent.

The margin of error in the polls, when they were conducted, and how many people were interviewed was not indicated.

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