Mexican president defends war against drug cartels
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Mexican President Felipe Calderon has defended his controversial war against drug cartels, saying the strategy has cost the traffickers $14.5 billion.
In his last state-of-the-nation address before leaving office in December, Calderon said today he was not to blame for the spiraling drug-related violence, which has killed more than 50,000 people since he took office in 2006.
Calderon, who belongs to the conservative National Action Party, pointed his finger at the United States, which he said "are the consumers, they are the providers of funds and they are the providers of weapons," the Agence France-Presse reported.
"We firmly express the need to slow the flow of criminal weapons and cash fueling the violence in our country," he said.
Calderon said the offensive against the drug gangs, which included the deployment of thousands of soldiers across the country, had resulted in the seizure of 114 tons of cocaine, nearly 11,000 tons of marijuana and more than 75 tons of methamphetamines, The Telegraph reported.
Overall, the government's efforts had cost the cartels $14.5 billion, he said.
Calderon said his administration would leave the Mexican economy in better shape than they found it six years ago, the Associated Press reported.
He claimed they had created nearly 1.9 million jobs despite the global financial crisis and had built up the country's stockpile of foreign reserves to $159.8 billion as of Aug. 17.
Calderon will vacate the presidency for Enrique Peña Nieto, who was confirmed as President-elect last week after an investigation into allegations his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, used illicit money to buy votes in the July 1 poll.
The electoral court said there was insufficient evidence to prove the claims by the leftist runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.