MEXICO CITY – The more than 7,000 gangland killings reported so far this year bring to nearly 25,000 the number of deaths attributable to the drug war since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006, Mexico’s attorney general said Friday.
By comparison, the death toll for all of 2009 was 7,724.
The problem of drug-related violence has been building for decades and it would be “hazardous” to predict that the scourge can be eliminated in the short term, Attorney General Arturo Chavez Chavez told a press conference in Mexico City.
At the same time, he discounted the risk of the conflict’s acquiring a political dimension, stressing that Mexico’s drug cartels and other organized crime groups are motivated by money.
It’s not a question of ideology or of seeking to modify the structures of political action, Chavez said.
The attorney general likened Mexico to a person suffering from a hemorrhage, noting that the first step in such cases is to stop the bleeding, followed by cleaning the wound and applying a cure.
Mexico, he said, is at the second stage, engaged in an overhaul of law enforcement and the judiciary some 3 1/2 years after Calderon threw the armed forces into the battle against the cartels.
As one aspect of the second phase he cited a proposal to consolidate the country’s more than 1,200 municipal police departments into 32: one for each of Mexico’s 31 states and the Federal District, which includes the capital.
The third phase will entail repairing the frayed social fabric and discovering why so many young Mexicans are prepared to risk their lives to pursue a life of crime, Chavez said.
Regarding the use of the army in law enforcement, which has brought complaints from citizens and criticism from human rights organizations, the attorney general said the military “was indispensable to contain the hemorrhage.
Chavez added, however, that the military deployment cannot be permanent.