US Fears Mexico Vote Could Undermine Drug War

Frontrunner's Pledge to 'Bring Down Death Toll' Runs Afoul of US Plans

There aren’t many times when running as the candidate looking for “bring down the death toll” can earn you international scorn. But Mexico seems to be facing that situation right now, as the US openly frets the frontrunner, former Governor Enrique Pena Nieto, for exactly that.

That’s because for the US, policy in Mexico is all about the drug war, and keeping it going no matter what the cost for the Mexican public. With an ugly level of drug war related violence nationwide, Pena Nieto’s promise to focus policy on “diminishing violence” is quite popular, and has him with a commanding lead in the polls.

Pena Nieto’s party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), dominated Mexico’s political scene for generations, but has been out of power since 2000, when Vicente Fox took office. Since the decade plus of rule by the National Action Party (PAN) of Fox and Calderon has also seen a dramatic increase in drug related violence, many expect the PRI to cash in on the idea of returning to the “good old days.”

Which suits everyone fine, except for the US, where officials and influential think-tank employees are railing against the reduction of violence in Mexico as a dangerous threat to the US. This has been going on for awhile, Sen. John McCain was railing against the possibility in February. As the vote nears and the lead widens, such “warnings” are likely to get all the more shrill.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.