Caldern sends in the army
Mexicos war on drugs began in late 2006 when the president at the time, Felipe Caldern, ordered thousands of troops onto the streets in response to an explosion of horrific violence in his native state of Michoacn.
Caldern hoped to smash the drug cartels with his heavily militarized onslaught but the approach was counter-productive and exacted a catastrophic human toll. As Mexicos military went on the offensive, the body count sky-rocketed to new heights and tens of thousands were forced from their homes, disappeared or killed.
Simultaneously Caldern also began pursuing the so-calledkingpin strategyby which authorities sought to decapitate the cartels by targeting their leaders.
That policy resulted in some high-profile scalps notably Arturo Beltrn Leyva who wasgunned down by Mexican marines in 2009 but also did little to bring peace. In fact, many believe such tactics served only to pulverize the world of organized crime, creating even more violence as new, less predictable factions squabbled for their piece of the pie.
Under Calderns successor, Enrique Pea Nieto, the governments rhetoric on crime softened as Mexico sought to shed its reputation as the headquarters of some the worlds most murderous mafia groups.
But Calderns policies largely survived, with authorities targeting prominent cartel leaders such as Sinaloas Joaqun El Chapo Guzmn.
When El Chapo was arrested in early 2016, Mexicos president bragged: Mission accomplished. But the violence went on. By the time Pea Nieto left office in 2018, Mexico had suffered another record year of murders, with nearly 36,000 people slain.
“Hugs not bullets”
The leftwing populist Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador took power in December, promising a dramatic change in tactics. Lpez Obrador, or Amlo as most call him, vowed to attack the social roots of crime,offering vocational trainingto more than 2.3 million disadvantaged young people at risk of being ensnared by the cartels.
It will be virtually impossible to achieve peace without justice and [social] welfare, Amlo said, promising to slash the murder rate from an average of 89 killings per day with his hugs not bullets doctrine.
Amlo also pledged to chair daily 6am security meetings and create a 60,000 strong “National Guard”. But those measures have yet to pay off, with the new security force used mostly to hunt Central American migrants.
Mexico now suffers an average of about 96 murders per day, with nearly 29,000 people killed since Amlo took office.