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February 2007
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On those ‘victories’ in Mexico

According to Fred Rosen in the Mexico News, despite Calder¸n’s military-style crackdowns and the extradition of drug cartel leaders, things may not be going all that well for him, with an increase in the price of corn, and a decrease in the price of drugs.

Many people are significantly reducing their caloric intake. And many are blaming the government. Within a week of the onset of the corn shortage, Calder¸năs approval rating had dropped 20 points to 50 percent.
And now, the results of the drug-war incursions into the states of MichoacŻn, Baja California and Guerrero are coming under question. Initially, it was announced that marijuana fields were burned; cocaine, heroin and synthetic drugs were confiscated; major capos were arrested and extradited; professional executioners were killed, arrested or forced to flee the states under siege; and a major dent was put into drug exports and domestic sales. Calder¸n said the operation had brought “peace and certainty” to Mexico.
But the press now reports that no cocaine (the number-one export to the United States) was seized in any of the raids and that many of MichoacŻnăs destroyed marijuana fields, having been planted with a pesticide-resistant strain of cannabis, are making a quick comeback.
And El Universalăs always-perceptive columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio reports that aside from the extradition of a half dozen drug barons, the cartels have not taken such a hard hit. “The cost of a joint of marijuana on the streets of Mexico City,” he reports, “is 15 pesos, compared to 25 pesos in December, while Ecstasy tabs, whose producers were also supposedly targets of the crackdowns, have fallen to half of the 50 pesos they cost at the end of the year.”
If the operations had been a success, reasons Riva Palacio, the logic of supply and demand would have produced a reverse effect. The low price suggests there are more drugs on the street than before the anti-drug operations began.

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