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Mexico’s Calderon hails economic legacy, drug fight in last address

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon used his final State of the Union address to defend his administration's bare-knuckle war on drug cartels, asserting that 22 of the nation's 37 most wanted criminals have been "neutralized" since he took office six years ago.

"Protecting Mexicans from crime has been an imperative for this government," Mr. Calderon said Monday in his speech in which he highlighted the creation of a new Federal Police Force that has expanded to include 36,000 officers during his tenure.

He steered clear, however, of mentioning the estimated 50,000 Mexicans killed by violence emanating from the U.S.-supported drug war in Mexico.

Instead, Mr. Calderon, who is slated to cede power to President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto in December, focused on economic advances that have quietly coincided with the violence during recent years.

In addition to highlighting the more 2.2 million jobs that have been added to the economy since 2007, Mr. Calderon pointed to the Mexican economy's attraction of more than $126 billion in direct foreign investment since 2006.

A summary of his speech posted on Mexico's official presidential website also boasts of the nation's upward rise during the past six years on the World Bank's ease-of-doing-business index.

It remains to be seen how such developments might fit into Mr. Calderon's legacy as an ardent drug warrior who held office at time of intense crime and bloodshed in Mexico.

The Mexican constitution calls for presidents to stand for a single, six-year term.

In what some analysts have described as a twist of political irony, Mr. Pena Nieto won widespread support during the recent presidential race by highlighting Mexico's potential for significantly expanded economic growth during the years ahead.

While Mr. Pena Nieto has said that he also is committed to keeping up the government's fight against drug cartels and organized crime, he has called for redefining the U.S.-Mexico relationship into one focused as much on the potential for expanded cross-border economic ties as on issues of security.

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