Mexico’s three month presidential campaign ended officially on Wednesday. The vote is on Sunday, with results expected by midnight, local time. JP Rathbone gives us his insights on the possible outcomes. Read more
We’ll be keeping an eye out for the US Supreme Court decision on Obamacare today, but these are the reads that caught our eye on the world news desk this morning: Read more
Here is what the world desk is reading and chatting about today: Read more
Anti-narcotic arrests in Mexico City. Reuters/ Daniel Aguilar
Growing calls from Latin America that it’s time to rethink the “War on Drugs” has lead to a near-intoxicating barrage of documents, books, speeches and studies on the subject. Here’s one of the latest – a US Senate report on “Reducing the US demand for illegal drugs”.
Given that some 50,000 people have died in Mexico over the past six years during that country’s battle against organised crime, and that the US spends some $190bn a year on drug enforcement, health care and addiction costs – equivalent to a quarter of its military budget – this is more than a fanciful “nice-to-have” idea. It is surely a must.
Three findings grabbed my attention. First, illegal drug use continues to rise in the US. At 9 per cent of the population, it is now at its highest rate in a decade. Read more
General Óscar Naranjo is known as the world’s “best policeman”, or at least that is what the Canadian mounties have called Colombia’s top cop. Gen Naranjo, profiled here by the FT, is also looking for a job.
The unassuming Jesuit-schooled 56-year old, who has shaped and led Colombia’s pretty successful two-decade-long fight against organised crime, said last month that he would step down in July as head of Colombia’s 160,000-strong police force. After leading the institution for five years it was time, he said, for somebody else to take charge. Read more
Josefina Vázquez Mota. Photo AP
Women currently govern some 40 per cent of Latin America’s population. If Josefina Vázquez Mota wins Mexico’s presidential elections in July, that figure will rise to 60 per cent. “I will be Mexico’s first presidenta (female president),” Ms Vázquez said this month after she won the primary of the conservative National Action Party. Read more
Last month, gunmen dumped 35 dead bodies on the streets of Veracruz, one of Mexico’s busiest Gulf ports, just a short distance from where the country’s state attorneys were due to hold a convention. Last week, another 32 dead bodies were found stashed in Veracruz houses.
And last weekend, the nearby university town of Xalapa hosted an offshoot of the Hay literary festival – a genteel and ruminative gathering of the kind that Harry Eyres writes about in his weekend FT column “The Slow Lane”. It is also the kind of discrepancy that is becoming increasingly common as Mexico grinds through the fifth year of its “drugs war”. Read more
“It is like throwing money down a hole.” The judgement from Mexican think-tank “Mexico Evalua” is a dispiriting verdict on the country’s four-year long offensive against organised crime, which has resulted in almost 40,000 deaths. But it also reads like a true one.
In 2009, Mexico spent a mere 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product on security. (Colombia spent eight times the amount, while the regional average is 1.5 per cent.) But boosting spending won’t make any difference, on Evalua’s reading, because the main problem in Mexico is not that it is trying to fight organised crime, but that it is using an institutional apparatus that does not work to do so. Read more