Crime still biggest challenge for Mexico
Updated: 2012-09-04 14:00
MEXICO CITY - Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon Monday said fighting rampant crime was the hardest task in his term and would remain the biggest challenge for the country.
"Mexico is still on the long road to a life of security and freedom," Calderon said in his sixth and final state-of-the-nation address attended by some 2,000 people, including cabinet members, legislators, judicial officials and diplomats.
Calderon said criminal groups had grown stronger while the state had become weaker over many years, but his government reversed the trend. "It will take many years before we see the full results of our efforts," he added.
Calderon, whose six-year term (2006-2012) has been marked by spiraling violence, declared an war on drugs almost immediately after taking office.
In the address, he highlighted the successes of the anti-drug war, including the capture or killing of 22 most-wanted criminals in the country, and the confiscation of a record amount of arms caches, drug shipments and money belonging to criminal gangs.
While many agree that Calderon's drug war has succeeded in breaking up several of Mexico's large drug cartels, often by eliminating their top kingpins, it has also given rise to many smaller and more violent groups, such as the notoriously violent Zetas gang.
According to a report released on August 20 by the state-run National Statistics Institute, 95,632 homicides were registered in Mexico from 2007 to 2011.
At the end of the address, Calderon called on the people to rally behind President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, saying a leader "needs the support of the whole society."
Nieto will take office on December 1 amid allegations that his victory in July 1 elections was rigged.