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Feature 040912 Gallup

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gallup: Fewer Mexicans Report Gangs, but Less Feel Safe

By Peter Cynkar

Quick Summary: Five years after Mexico launched its aggressive war on drugs, Gallup finds fewer Mexicans reporting that gangs and drugs are commonplace where they live. Yet gangs remain a neighborhood fixture for 46% of Mexicans surveyed in 2011 and 33% said drug trafficking goes on. Fewer Mexicans feel safe and their confidence in their police and their military has decreased.

Issue at Hand: Recent reports estimate nearly 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a military-assisted crackdown on the drug cartels in late 2006. Calderon has admitted that insecurity remains a significant problem in Mexico, which also has implications for the U.S. as this violence has spilled across its border. At the North American leaders' summit [last] week, Calderon said Mexico's fight for a "safer North America" requires a strengthening of national actions "to stop the traffic of weapons, to combat with greater strength money laundering, and, of course, to reduce the demand for drugs that strengthens criminal organizations."

The continuing bloodshed in Mexico may also have implications for the country's July 1 presidential election, which in turn could potentially change the way the U.S. and Mexico are fighting the drug war together. The U.S. has backed Calderon's policies through the $1.6 billion Merida Initiative, which has helped Mexico train police and prosecutors and purchase military equipment. At least two of the three leading candidates for Mexico's election have talked about withdrawing Mexico's military from the drug war. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with all three candidates in March and said they each view cooperation with the U.S. as essential to fighting the drug war.

Obama Administration's Stance: Obama said at the summit that criminal gangs and drug traffickers pose a threat to each nation and that both countries are responsible for meeting that threat. The U.S., for example, has "increased cooperation on our southern border, and dedicated new resources to reducing the southbound flow of money and guns, and to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States."

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Link to "Opinion Briefing: Mexico's Drug War, Fewer Mexicans report gangs since crackdown, but fewer feel safe" (Apr.4, 2012) for the complete Gallup Poll article.  Reprinted with permission.


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