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Felipe Calderón’s Two Faces

MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Felipe Calderón has finally gotten what he wanted: the resignation of United States Ambassador Carlos Pascual. Calderón shot the messenger for delivering bad news through confidential cables released by WikiLeaks. Pascual’s harsh assessments of the “war on drugs” that Calderón unleashed four years ago infuriated the president.

The revelations also annoyed the Mexican army, for they pointed out that the military frequently doesn’t act on intelligence provided by the US, and displays a strong aversion to risk. Moreover, Pascual’s candid assessments described a dysfunctional situation in which Mexican security agencies fight each other more than they fight organized crime.

Essentially, Pascual was forced to leave for describing a reality that Calderón does not want to face, and that his government would prefer to ignore. In other words, he lost his job for doing it properly.

But the stubborn truth revealed by the US diplomat emerges every day, despite the impact of drug kingpins who are arrested, the number of weapons discovered, or the amount of cocaine seized. Mexico is not winning the “war” against drug trafficking and organized crime: Pascual’s forced resignation cannot hide the 34,000 dead, the growing number of Mexicans addicted to drugs, the surge in kidnappings and executions, and widespread impunity.