Photo: Mexican Newspaper: 60,000 Have Died in President Calderon's Drug War
Organized crime-related violence has claimed 57,449 lives in Mexico during the presidency of Felipe Calderon, whose six-year term ends on Dec. 1, according to a tally published Thursday by the Milenio daily.
Based on its own calculations, the Monterrey-based newspaper also put the number of drug war-related homicides thus far in 2012 at 10,485 and said 888 people were killed in October, the second-lowest monthly total this year.
Seven of Mexico’s 32 federal entities accounted for 72 percent of the homicides last month, according to Milenio. In October, the country’s most violent state was Guerrero with 145 murders, followed by Chihuahua with 139, Sinaloa with 94 and Nuevo Leon and Jalisco with 68 each.
The states that saw the biggest drop in homicides last month relative to September were Michoacan, Baja California and San Luis Potosi, in that order.
The last time the government updated the country’s drug war death toll was on Jan. 11, when it said 47,515 people had been killed in organized crime-related violence between Dec. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2011.
In August, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which poet-turned-peace activist Javier Sicilia founded after his son was murdered by suspected drug-gang members, put the death toll from Mexico’s drug war at roughly 70,000.
Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, militarized the struggle against Mexico’s heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of troops across the country.
The strategy has led to headline-grabbing killings or captures of 25 of the country’s 37 most-wanted criminal leaders - including Los Zetas cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano, killed in a shootout with marines on Oct. 7 - but the violence has continued unabated.
Calderon will be succeeded in a month by Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which will return to power after a 12-year hiatus.
Peña Nieto, who has vowed to bring down the violence during his six-year term, says he will keep the army on the streets in Mexico’s most insecure areas while bolstering the Federal Police’s capacity to fight crime.
The president-elect has said he will not seek accords or truces with drug gangs, as the PRI is widely suspected of doing in the past.
Calderon suggested in an interview with The New York Times in October 2011 that members of the PRI, which ruled Mexico uninterruptedly for 71 years, would be susceptible to making deals with organized crime the party regained power.