President of Mexico delivers last national report, touts security
By Olga R. Rodriguez, AP
September 3, 2012, 11:39 am TWN
MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderon delivered the last state-of-the-nation report of his administration Saturday, saying he is leaving Mexico with the foundation for "true and lasting security."
The written report delivered to Congress by Interior Minister Alejandro Poire also said Mexico has a strong and growing economy despite the world's difficult financial environment.
Calderon plans to deliver an address based on the report Monday.
The president said Mexico has made the largest investment in its history in security during his six-year administration, allowing the federal police force to be purged of bad officers. He said he also reformed laws to better coordinate security operations and that federal forces have made historic strikes against organized crime.
"Today we have better laws, with modern federal security and justice institutions that are better equipped and trained," Calderon's report said. "The effort has made it possible to build the foundation of a true and lasting security."
Calderon touted the transformation of the federal police, which he said has grown from 6,000 officers to 36,000 during his term, including 7,000 college graduates who joined the force.
The federal Public Safety Department, which oversees federal police officers, and the Attorney General's Office have vetted 100 percent of their agents with background checks, he added.
But the president said still more needs to be done to improve security in the country.
Local and state police departments have only vetted 45 percent of their officers through July, with evaluations pending for more than 239,000 officers, he said.
Corruption is widespread in Mexico's local police forces. Thousands of officers, including entire forces at times, have been fired, detained or placed under investigation for allegedly aiding drug gangs.
Calderon launched an armed offensive against drug traffickers when he took office in December 2006 and made the battle his top priority. More than 47,000 people had been killed in drug violence since then and through September 2011, the last time the government released figures.
Of Mexico's 37 most wanted criminals, 22 have been killed or captured, the report said. And the government has weakened criminal organizations by confiscating US$14.5 billion in assets, including US$1 billion in cash from drug gangs, it said.
Authorities have confiscated more than 114 metric tons of cocaine, 11,000 metric tons of marijuana and 75 metric tons of methamphetamines since 2006. Authorities also seized nearly 154,000 weapons, the report said.
Calderon's report said the economy is "in a phase of growth" thanks to responsible public finances.
He also said foreign direct investment totaled US$126 billion during his administration. "This reflects the growing dynamism and competitiveness of our economy," he said.
About 3,000 members of a student movement called "I Am 132," which sprang up before the July 1 elections to oppose campaign violations, marched to Congress, where more than 1,000 police officers guarded the building Saturday. The demonstrators read their own "counter-report" on Calderon's six years of government.
"Six years have passed since Felipe Calderon took office, six years of lies and false promises," it read. "Six years in which year after year we have seen a cowardly president talking about courage while society contributed the dead, the displaced, the kidnapped and the mistreated by the authorities."