NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – President Obama arrived Sunday night in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the G-20 Summit, where he and other world leaders will spend days discussing how to address the European economic crisis.
Outside the security-heavy convention center, a different crisis is raging. In January, the Mexican government announced that 47,515 had been killed in drug-related violence since the start of President Felipe Calderon’s term in late 2006. (The data counted deaths only through September; it is widely expected that the figure will hit 60,000 by the end of Calderon’s term in December.) In 2011, there was a drug war-related death in Mexico roughly every half hour.
Violence has been surging in the country in recent days ahead of coming presidential elections. A video last week showed police officers removing men from a hotel; the men showed up dead the following day, and the officers are accused of acting on behalf of drug carters. On Thursday, the body of reporter Victor Baez turned up in Veracruz in what the Los Angeles Times reports is the eighth killing of a journalist in that state alone. Amid Calderon’s military-style offensive against the cartels, violence has come to regions once considered safe, like Guadalajara and the Mexico City region. In May, three top-ranked Army generals were detained over possible links to the cartels; it was recently discovered that drug money has been laundered through a U.S. horse breeding operation.
Despite the proximity and severity of the violence, President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have spent relatively little time discussing the drug war in Mexico. While Mr. Obama discussed Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria during his January State of the Union address, he did not touch on the violence in Mexico and the rest of Central America. (Honduras and El Salvador have also been hard hit.) In March, then-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized Mr. Obama for allowing his daughter to visit Mexico on a school trip despite a State Department travel warning about travel to certain areas of the country.
Romney, whose father George was born in Mexico, has talked about securing the southern border — which would include against drug trafficking — but he has rarely discussed the violence raging on the other side of it.
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