PAN presidential hopeful Santiago Creel on Wednesday pulled a smart political move by declaring he would break with the current drug war strategy (which he condemned) and then laying out plans that fit perfectly into the currently designed template.
Creel, no ally of Calderon within PAN circles, said he would change "everything" if elected in 2012. "The direct, frontal, expansive strategy is a strategy that should end with this administration."
Creel said that he would begin to take the army off the streets - he gave a 24-month withdrawal timeframe – and insisted the priority should be going after the cartel's revenue streams, going after money laundering, and cleaning up prisons.
This is no different from Calderon's strategy. In fact, according to a senior official I spoke with about the matter about a year ago, it is considered to be Phase 4 of the current drug war plan. So, clearly, Creel has calculated that by bashing the current administration's strategy, he will win political points with an increasingly disillusioned electorate, while also appeasing the powers that be inside the PAN (and of course, winning friends internationally – the US has invested $1.4 billion in Merida Initiative money towards this drug war strategy; so does anyone think things are going to change dramatically in the next sexenio?)