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Terrorism & Security

More arrests in Mexico's war on drug cartels

In the U.S., President Calderón's efforts look successful. But Mexicans say the crackdowns are increasing violence.

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Mexico entered a new phase of its war on drugs two years ago when Mr. Calderón took office and immediately deployed thousands of armed troops across Mexico to battle drug gangs. But "the murder rate has soared since Calderón sent the army to battle the cartels, with daylight shootings now common," Reuters reports. "Bodies and severed heads have piled up as this year's death toll has topped 2,700 and killings turned more brutal."

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The Arizona Republic also questions whether Mexicans think the crackdowns are effective.

Instead of subsiding, drug-related murders are rising and becoming more gruesome. Once-quiet border towns have become battlegrounds....
"[I]n Mexico, many people are wondering if the crackdown on cartels is worth the loss of life. Marches and rallies are multiplying as Mexicans vent their frustration at the violence.
"I don't think the government is winning," [Angelica] Bucio said as she lay in a hospital bed surrounded by other victims from the grenade attack. "The violence is getting worse."

A recent BBC World Service poll shows that Mexicans are increasingly worried.

Some 42% of the 1,266 Mexicans polled in seven cities said they felt less safe than they did a year ago. Fewer than 10% felt safer, while the rest felt about the same.

Making matters worse, the violence is taking a serious toll on Mexico's economy, reports the Latin Business Chronicle.

The U.S. economic slowdown isn't the only factor hitting Mexico's economy these days. The violence caused by the country's organized crime has also negatively effected Mexico's GDP growth, shaving off one percentage point of growth, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens told local newspaper Reforma earlier this month. In addition to scaring off many foreign investors, the violence is forcing local companies to spend more on security and hurting domestic competition, he acknowledges.
Foreign investors already in Mexico agree. "The cost of security (insurance, surveillance) is relatively high, reduces competitiveness, and creates uncertainty," says Nicole Reich de Polignac, president and CEO of Scotiabank Mexico. "It is difficult to know at this moment if this is having an impact on investment decisions, but it is presumed so, particularly on foreign investments, but perhaps on domestic as well."

But if violence is increasing inside Mexico, the outcome for the US is dramatically different, The Arizona Republic reports.

The turmoil is in stark contrast to the U.S. side of the border, where Calderón's crackdown looks like a success. The White House has credited Mexico's efforts for a drop in the drug supply. Since 2006, the U.S. has seen an 84 percent jump in methamphetamine prices and a 21 percent increase in cocaine prices. Meth use has dropped 50 percent and cocaine use has decreased 19 percent, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
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