Pubdate: Tue, 8 Sep 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: A17
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinson, Reporting from Mexico City

Mexico Under Siege


Foes Had Criticized Atty. Gen. Eduardo Medina Mora for What They Say 
Is a Failing Government Strategy

Mexico's attorney general, a key figure in the government's war on
drug cartels, resigned Monday as part of a Cabinet shake-up announced
by beleaguered President Felipe Calderon.

Atty. Gen. Eduardo Medina Mora stepped down after severe criticism
from political opponents who said the government's drug war strategy
was failing. Medina Mora will be sent abroad as ambassador, Calderon
said, but he did not specify to which country.

Calderon praised Medina Mora as a "brave man" whose "professionalism
and loyalty" had been instrumental in dealing what the president said
was a significant blow to organized crime.

Medina Mora was a staunch defender of the government's strategy in
targeting powerful drug cartels, despite numerous setbacks in the
effort. The death toll has soared and victories have been elusive.

Medina Mora was also the go-to man in the Calderon administration for
U.S. officials, who at times have had prickly relations with the
Mexican government.

However, his long-rumored removal does not necessarily foreshadow
major changes in the way the drug war will be fought, analysts said.

"The fight will no doubt be won by the Mexican state," Medina Mora
said at a news conference announcing his resignation.

He will be replaced by Arturo Chavez Chavez, a little-known official
from the federal prosecutor's office and member of Calderon's
conservative National Action Party. The incoming attorney general
hails from the violent border state of Chihuahua. The Senate has to
ratify his appointment before he can assume the post.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since Calderon launched the
offensive at the start of his administration in December 2006. More
than 48,000 army troops and 5,000 federal police have been mobilized

Not only has the campaign failed to turn up top fugitive drug kingpins
and to stem the flow of illicit profits, but it also has led to
allegations of human rights violations by the army and has exposed
levels of corruption across the country, in police departments and
local governments, as well as Medina Mora's own office.

Calderon also appointed Francisco Javier Mayorga Castaneda as the new
agriculture minister, at a time when the nation is struggling with its
worst drought since World War II, and Juan Jose Suarez Coppel as
director of the state oil monopoly. 
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