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Mexico's Calderon likely to leave after his term expires

| Saturday, June 30, 2012, 7:28 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — In meetings, President Felipe Calderon has been telling guests that he and his family are likely to leave Mexico to live abroad after his term expires in December. It will be too dangerous to remain, he warns in private conversation, because powerful drug mafias might come after him.

For the commander-in-chief of Mexico's U.S.-backed drug war to suggest that he has not provided enough security to live in his country is a stunning revelation — and may be seen as either an admission of failure or evidence of just how hard he has fought and how far Mexico needs to go.

As Mexicans go to the polls on Sunday to vote for his successor, Calderon finds his legacy battered, his ruling party unpopular and its standard bearer, the energetic former Education Secretary Josefina Vazquez Mota, trailing in third place in pre-election surveys.

Limited to a single six-year term, Calderon remains personally popular, with his ratings hovering around 50 percent. Yet two of every three Mexicans recently surveyed say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

According to a spokesman, Calderon is “considering a variety of options both at home and abroad ... to contribute to finding solutions to global problems.” The source said, “Security will not be factor.”

The election, according to the pollster Roy Campos, “appears to be about change.” Ahead in every major survey during the three-month presidential campaign is Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the telegenic young face of the old corrupt party that ran Mexico as “a perfect dictatorship” for more than 70 years, before the dinosaurs, as Mexicans call them, were defeated by Calderon's predecessor Vicente Fox in 2000.

After 12 years of Fox and Calderon, voters appear tired of the more conservative, pro-Catholic, pro-business National Action Party, or PAN, which failed to pass the grand reforms their leaders promised to modernize the country and turn it into a kind of Brazil, the envy of Latin America.

The toll of Calderon's drug war — the sensational, medieval violence, the 60,000 dead, major cities occupied by masked soldiers — appears also to have exhausted the patience of Mexican voters.

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