In defense of Calderon

I feel like I’m turning increasingly PANista, in part in reaction to the ongoing criticism of Calderon’s tactics in the drug war. I don’t consider myself an advocate of his war or the tactics employed to fight it, but I do feel like the press is increasingly targeting him without good reason/sufficient evidence. There’s a tendency, as a foreign reporter in Mexico, to get swept up in left-wing emotion, often because the government fails to give you straight answers/access, and I see this happening right now with allegations that his war on drugs is increasingly political. One quibble I have is the simple lack of coherent fact and argument.

In several pieces, I’ve read about how Calderon has “targeted” opposition members but not members of his own party. This simply isn’t true or accurate. While the authorities have certainly targeted more members of the opposition, that does not mean that members of the PAN have not been targeted. A piece in the Christian Science Monitor argues:

“But [Calderon] has not targeted his own party’s elected officials. [Gregorio] Sanchez’s arrest has been compared to Calderon’s sweep of 10 mayors in PRD-held Michoacan during election season last year on alleged links to drug traffickers. Almost all of the mayors, who included two members of Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN), were later released from prison.”

So there were two PAN mayors targeted in the sweep, contradicting the initial sentence arguing that Calderon “has not targeted his own party’s elected officials.”

It’s true that the majority of targeted officials have not been PAN. And this is a dilemma the current administration faces, because historically, it’s been the PRI which had the deepest ties to the narcos. In Michoacan, it’s the PRD. The PAN doesn’t have those historical ties to deep-rooted corruption. By default, it’s going to be going after the opposition if it wants to fight a drug war.

In another piece a while back, in Newsweek, the author wrote: “Some of the other arrests seem even more craven because of their openly political flavor. The 10 mayors were jailed a month before the July 5 midterm elections last year—which Calderón’s conservative National Action Party lost badly. All but González were members of political parties opposed to Calderón.”

So there was one PAN mayor arrested? I thought it was two.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, wrote: “Several of the arrested mayors belonged to Calderón’s own center-right National Action Party.”

So there were several, ie, more than two but not many?

Where are these numbers/facts coming from? According to press reports at the time, 6 of the detained mayors were PRI, 2 were PRD and 2 were PAN.

If you’re going to make an argument that a president is effectively abusing his power, please get your facts straight before you do so.

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