Mexican President Felipe Calderon made the final state of the union of his six-year term on Monday, saying he has left his nation better armed to protect itself against the violence of drug cartels.
Calderon claims that drug violence has tapered off but, as Fox News reports, the claim isn’t verifiable since the government stopped providing those statistics more than a year ago. The sale of armored cars has more than doubled during Calderon’s reign, and homicide rates have also risen considerably. Decapitations and mass slayings have become so commonplace as to not even rate as front page news.
Still, Calderon sees things differently.
According to the L.A. Times, Calderon claims that 22 of the 37 most wanted criminals have been taken down on his watch. He also claims to have created 2.2 million jobs despite the global economic downturn. The government also claimed to have confiscated $14.5 billion in assets, including $1 billion in cash from drug gangs. One of the more staggering statistics might be his expansion of the federal police force from 6,500 officers to 37,000 as part of his strategy to take on drug cartels head on.
“Many problems persist, yes, but today Mexico has more and better capacities to confront them,” Calderon said in the address, given at Mexico City’s National Palace. “Mexico has changed, and changed for the good. It has more solid and effective public institutions.”
Calderon’s approval rating is less than 50 percent, but is up to 46 percent after being at 37 percent in July. His party’s candidate for the presidency took distant third, losing out to president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party.
Mexican presidents are limited to one six-year term and Felipe Calderon’s term will end when Dec. 1 when Nieto is sworn in.