Two weeks after a cross-country caravan made public the stories of Mexico’s Drug War victims, many of its key participants sat down with the Mexican President and key cabinet members in what was billed as a dialogue.
The meeting, which changed location to Chapultepec Castle on short notice, represented the first time a large group of victims told their stories directly to the Mexican officials driving and carrying out domestic Drug War policy.
The format of the “dialogue” resembled that of a city council meeting, with most victims facing time limits on their public comments and officials giving lengthy responses.
President Felipe Calderon says he would like to be “remembered for promoting education, hospitals and unprecedented road infrastructure”, but recognizes the Drug War will probably be his administration’s most lasting legacy. He defended his policy as a tough decision that had to be made and a necessary step to root out entrenched organized crime.
When questioned about widespread impunity in concrete cases, like that of the siege of San Juan Copala, Calderon blamed local and state level governments for not adequately prosecuting crimes within their jurisdictions.
Poet Javier Sicilia told the president it was a mistake to fight cartels with institutions that are themselves “rotten from the inside out”.
While the talks don’t appear likely to bring about any major policy shift, the president and the poet agreed to give continuity to the talks and meet again in three months.