Once again, President Calderon is in the spotlight for defending his government’s stance against the cartels, saying the authorities are going after all top narcos with equal vigor.
Once again, one wonders why the president is answering these questions. During the Fox administration, every attorney general and top SIEDO official struggled with the Chapo question. Some effectively ignored it, saying he wasn’t the end-goal. Some chose to answer it, admitting that Chapo was basically outwitting the authorities.
The press loved every answer, because every one played into their hands. They could write a headline screaming anything about the drug war and include the name of the one capo who was still roaming free.
The government really should learn this: to ignore some questions is not ignoring democracy. Calderon has the right, as president, to put the capture of Chapo into context, or to ignore the questions altogether. As elected leader, he should have a plan, and has a right to stick to it, even if the public and media disagree. (And as long as he adheres to the Constitution etc.)
What he should not be doing is pandering to the press, mentioning names of Sinaloa cartel operatives who have been captured long after the question was asked, in what comes across as a desperate afterthought and feeble attempt to prove he’s telling the truth.
Memo to Los Pinos: Prep your president and top officials. Every time they go into a press conference or summit, give them a standard line (which hopefully honestly follows the presidency’s agenda) and perhaps, a tidbit about Chapo or whichever drug lord they think will be brought up by the press. (These days it can pretty much only be Chapo or El Mayo.) Then answer the press with a confident, yet acknowledging statement that many Sinaloa operatives have been caught (preferably give a number, not names that no one knows), but admit that yes, Chapo remains at large. Then reiterate that he is not the priority, disrupting the cartels is, etc etc. Make sure every official gets the memo and sticks with it.
Some might cry that the government is stonewalling or lying, or not true to democratic process, but in my opinion, it’d be just fine. And rather than see their president fidget his way through press conference after press conference, the people would at least see a leader who appears to be confident of where he’s taking the country.
Memo No. 2: Once you’ve got the official line in check, capture Chapo. It’ll make life a lot easier. There will always be another capo to take Chapo’s place, but at least you’ll have got the guy who has made your public pronouncements a running joke.