YOUNG VOICES: Americans have power to ease Mexico's woes

2013-01-28T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Americans have power to ease Mexico's woesBy Phillip Arteaga
January 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

New leadership, particularly with a different political party, usually means there will be various changes in the government.

This is the case in Mexico, where a new president took office in December. Mexico’s president serves one six-year term.

There are three principal parties in Mexico. For seven decades, the PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was in office. In 2000, Vicente Fox, from the PAN, the National Action Party, won the election. He focused on stopping government corruption, reducing crime, and improving trade with the United States.

In 2006, Felipe Calderon, also from the PAN party, was elected. Calderon made some controversial changes, trying to stop the drug cartels. He sent the military to help the local governments and went after the leaders of the cartels from the top. He launched what is now known as the Cartel War. No previous president had attempted that. By the end of his term, some progress had been made but at a great expense of lives and money.

Last month Enrique Pena Nieto, from the PRI party, took office. The big question is, “What changes will he make?”

He has a 13-point agenda that focuses on domestic issues such as, school reform, new infrastructure and reducing crime. He has pledged to work with the U.S. on security issues and economic policies.

President Barack Obama has promised additional assistance to help with security issues. Nieto says he wants to strengthen the middle class, which will reduce the violence that has killed 48,000 people since 2006.

However, his critics have said his actions so far do not look very promising. He chose cabinet members from the old PRI party which critics say return to the old ways the former two presidents tried to change.

He already has a new stance on the drug cartels which seems more relaxed. Nieto already removed some of the military presence near the border. He wants to focus on street gangs and criminals employed by the cartels. I think that neither approach – top down or bottom up – alone is sufficient. Both have to be done simultaneously so they can capitalize on intelligence they find from the street dealers about the operation and the leaders about the structure that supports the cartels, including outside support.

I think there still should be a strong military presence especially in the areas where there is a higher crime rate.

Improving the economy is important. If people have jobs, they will be less likely to get involved with selling drugs. Of course, a simple economic principle also offers a solution, supply and demand. If there is not a demand for the product, the supply is not needed. That solution rests on us.

Phillip Arteaga of Munster is a freshman at Purdue University Calumet. The opinions are the writer's.

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