Mexico's President Felipe Calderon fell short of goals

By E. Eduardo Castillo And Katherine Corcoran

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 10:50 p.m. MST

Analysts, including security expert Eduardo Guerrero's Lantia consulting firm, estimate that 60,000 of those killings were linked to organized crime, though the government stopped counting at 47,500 more than a year ago.

Calderon has argued that he had a legal and moral obligation to launch a counterattack on drug traffickers who were becoming increasingly more violent and seeking to control territories and even authorities.

"History will judge and remember those who fought for a free Mexico, free from the yoke of crime and delinquency," Calderon said on November 20 during the 102 anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, a key event in the nation's history.

The president did not respond to repeated requests by The Associated Press for an interview.

Many think Pena Nieto will abandon the strategy of going after cartel leaders in favor of a focused effort to reduce murder, extortion, kidnapping and other common crimes affecting everyday people.

On Wednesday, alleged messages from the criminals themselves seemed to mock Calderon's effort.

The Knights Templar cartel, which still controls the territory where Calderon launched his war in his home state of Michoacan, hung a banner to wish the outgoing president Merry Christmas and to urge him to get to know the cartel, "some fine, well-intentioned people."

"You can count on us," it said.

Imprisoned drug lord, Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villareal, allegedly sent letters to various media accusing Calderon of sending a top general to negotiate with cartels.

The authenticity of either message could not be confirmed by the AP.

In recent speeches Calderon has lamented that his attack on organized crime and the subsequent spike in violence has overshadowed his other accomplishments. He counts among his main achievements the expansion of health insurance through Seguro Popular, which covers people unaffiliated with any other plan, a number that grew from 15 million to 50 million during his six years.

His government has built 12,600 miles (21,000 kilometers) of new roads and bridges, more than the last administration. International reserves exceed $160 billion, a record. Oil production, recently in decline, has stabilized at about 2.5 million barrels daily. Calderon said Mexico six years ago was the ninth largest exporter of cars and now is the fourth.

Still, the economic reviews are mixed.

The world financial crisis of 2008 particularly affected Mexico in Latin America, because of its close economic ties to the U.S. The country in 2009 saw economic growth drop by 6 percent, one of the worst declines in Mexico's history. Per capita growth nearly rebounded in 2010, but has fallen short of expectations of about 4 percent annually since then.

Many laud Calderon for what didn't happen.

"Unemployment, poverty and inequity didn't plummet to extremes," said Nicolas Loza of the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences in Mexico City. "The ship stayed afloat."

But not everyone agrees.

Between 2006 and 2011 the economy had an average growth of about 1.6 percent, one of the worst in Mexico's recent history, said Jose Luis de la Cruz, who runs the Economics and Business Research Center at the Technological Institute of Monterrey.

By comparison, average growth was 2.2 percent under Vicente Fox and 3.5 percent under his predecessor, Ernest Zedillo, the last member of the PRI to hold the presidency. The U.S. has averaged 3 percent annual growth over the last several decades.

"They always mention the famous macroeconomic stability as one of his major successes," De la Cruz said. "In reality the problem is that in spite of that, there is an environment of low economic growth."

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