The international media have recently placed increased attention on the actions carried out by Mexican President Felipe Calderon to combat organized crime and strengthen the rule of law in Mexico.
His administration has launched an unprecedented campaign to meet these challenges. They include disrupting the financial and logistical networks of criminal organizations, purging corruption from law-enforcement agencies and promoting international cooperation.
Implementation of this strategy has not been easy, but the results have been positive. Mexico has made record seizures: 70 tons of cocaine, 4,000 tons of marijuana, 42 tons of chemical precursors for synthetic drugs, over 125 million Mexican pesos, and $312 million in cash.
More than 55,000 presumed criminals, including 36 crime bosses, have been apprehended and brought to justice. The Calderon government has also extradited more than 200 of those criminals, most of them to the United States.
The successful dismantling of these criminal organizations and the efforts to reduce the profits that fuel their illegal activities have led to violent reactions from those involved in the drug trade. Over half of these very regrettable incidents have taken place in four of Mexico’s more than 2,400 municipal districts. The federal government has deployed additional law enforcement resources to strengthen the rule of law in these areas.
Much has been accomplished by joint military-police operations. A program to remove corrupt elements from law-enforcement agencies has also made significant progress. These efforts cannot be ignored. The Mexican people and government have done much to stamp out illegal activities.
Serious analysis of these issues must recognize the transnational dimension. More than 90 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico have been illegally imported from the U.S. Many chemical precursors are also produced elsewhere. The largest markets for illegal drugs are in developed countries. Tighter international financial controls are required to control the laundering of profits from illegal activities.
Mexico is not ignoring its responsibility to face these problems, but it is clear that no country can succeed alone in the fight against organized crime. The international community has recognized that this is a transnational issue that must be resolved through cooperation.
Various United Nations studies show that no country is exempt from this problem. Mexico understands this and has steadfastly promoted the principle of shared responsibility both at the bilateral and multilateral level.
Mexico and the U.S. embraced this view when they announced an agreement for broader cooperation known as the Merida Initiative. During their meeting in Washington on Jan. 12, President Calderon and then President-elect Barack Obama further agreed on the need to act together to face these challenges.
A better understanding by our international partners of Mexico’s effort against organized crime would greatly benefit our policies to strengthen security and the rule of law in Mexico.
Speculative arguments that fail to address the many important issues at stake, such as in The Japan Times opinion-page article by David Rieff on March 3 (“Is Mexico disintegrating?”), leave us all with a biased perception and with more questions than answers.
Mexico is a vibrant country with a population of more than 100 million people. It has a thriving democracy, a rich cultural heritage, the world’s 13th- largest economy, and a growing middle class. The policies implemented in response to the global economic crisis will ensure that Mexico remains an attractive destination for foreign investment. International companies such a Techint Group, Kyocera, Bombardier, Pepsi and Sanyo are expanding their presence in our country.
Tourism continues to be a solid and booming industry, with more than 23 million visitors in 2008. Mexico is an important and responsible international actor, committed to international peace and disarmament — and currently a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
These facts speak of strong public policies and a civil society determined to overcome the challenges it faces. The government headed by President Calderon will continue to implement the actions needed to provide the security and stability that its society demands and deserves.
Miguel Ruiz-Cabanas is the ambassador of Mexico to Japan.
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