Mexican President Says Crime is Not a Top Priority

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced Wednesday that he will no longer make fighting drug cartels his top priority. Instead, he’ll focus on creating jobs and reducing poverty this year. The battle against crime in his country —which dominated the first half of his presidency—will be third on his list, The Huffington Post reports.

Calderon appeared on Mexican TV yesterday and promised to focus on improving quality of life for the country’s law-abiding citizens. He pledged historic levels of investment in roads, seaports and airports to create jobs as Mexico emerges from a deep economic recession. "Creating jobs, that is the most important thing for a family to get ahead in life," he said.

So far, the war on drugs has overshadowed every other pressing issue since Calderon took office in late 2006. He has sent more than 45,000 soldiers to fight powerful cartels, battles that have resulted in the deaths of more than 15,000 people. His shift in priorities comes after figures released late last year show that Mexico’s nationwide unemployment topped 5 percent, which is likely an underestimate. In his speech, Calderon insisted, "2010 will be the year of economic recovery."

Calderon says he will still continue to go hard on criminals, however. "In many parts of Mexico, criminals continue to harass, threaten and practice extortion against many Mexican families," Calderon said. "For that reason, we will continue to combat all criminal groups in the country, without distinction."