Mexico's new president outlines nuanced fight against violence

Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:16pm EST
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By Lizbeth Diaz

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's new president on Monday unveiled his strategy to curb drug-related violence that blighted the rule of his predecessor, announcing special units to combat kidnapping and extortion and promising to focus more on crime prevention.

Enrique Pena Nieto took office on December 1 pledging to restore stability to Mexico, which has been battered by brutal turf wars between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces.

More than 60,000 people died in the bloodletting under former president Felipe Calderon, who became embroiled in an escalating drug war after he sent in the army to bring hot spots to heel upon taking office in late 2006.

Instead of easing, though, the killings rose.

Pena Nieto, 46, said Mexico's struggle over the last six years showed a multipronged approach is needed to get violence off the streets of Latin America's No. 2 economy.

"We're going to plan policy and the institutional changes over the medium and long term, and also every specific decision and operation," the president told a news conference. "Security and justice policy is not going to be focused on reacting."

Pena Nieto said the military would continue to patrol Mexico's streets until a new militarized police, known as a national gendarmerie, was ready to take over.

That force would initially be 10,000 strong - about a quarter of the total the president has previously mentioned. The existing federal police, meanwhile, would have 15 teams dedicated to fighting kidnapping and extortion.   Continued...

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech during the II Extraodinary Session of the National Council of Public Security in Mexico City December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo