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Mexico's war on drugs is a disaster

President Calderon’s war on drugs has claimed nearly 18,000 lives, cost a small fortune in military expenditures, and brought enormous damage to the country’s image abroad. Obama must help Mexico adopt a new strategy.

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Mexico’s drug war continues to get worse and shows no sign of ebbing.

Seven days in March were labeled the most violent ones in President Felipe Calderón’s 3-1/2 years in office, with, according to the Mexico City daily Reforma, 256 drug-related deaths.

IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

During that span, on March 13, three US citizens were murdered in Ciudad Juárez. Two of them were American consular officers and the third was a prison guard from across the border in El Paso, Texas.

Earlier in the year, on Jan. 31, at a party in Ciudad Juárez, 15 teenagers were shot and killed, apparently by mistake; the perpetrators are still at large.

On his third trip to Juárez this year (a bit belatedly; he had visited the million-and-a-half-inhabitant community only twice before as president), Mr. Calderón insisted that appearances notwithstanding, thanks to the yearlong presence of 10,000 Mexican troops, violence had begun to recede. According to his own government’s figures, there have been 536 executions in Juárez since Jan. 1; that’s100 more than during the same period last year, which, in turn, experienced a rise of 25 percent throughout 2008.

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