President Felipe Calderon, who will leave office in less than three months, submitted an extensive report on his administration's accomplishments to Congress, detailing the blows dealt to Mexico's drug cartels and economic achievements.
Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, will hand over power to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which will have to steer a new course for a country where tens of thousands of people have died in drug-related violence and about 50 million people live in poverty.
The president, who declared war on Mexico's drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006, defended his decision to send the armed forces and Federal Police into the streets to fight the drug cartels.
The militarization of the drug war was the only way to end "this cancer" to society that the cartels represent, Calderon said.
"The fight for security has been a legal and ethical decision whose goal is to regain tranquility for Mexicans," Calderon said.
More than 50,000 people, according to official figures, have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since late 2006.
Mexico registered 27,199 murders in 2011, or 24 per 100,000 people, the highest number since Calderon took office, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said in a report released on Aug. 20.
The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which was founded by human rights activist and poet Javier Sicilia, puts the death toll from Mexico's drug war at 70,000.
The president's security strategy has been criticized by many sectors in Mexico, with hundreds of people responding to a call by the "Yo soy 132" student movement to gather in front of Congress Saturday to protest against the administration.
Over the past six years, the federal government ramped up security spending to record levels and captured 22 of Mexico's 37 most-wanted men, Calderon said.
More than "230 leaders and high-level associates" of criminal organizations were arrested and 114 tons of cocaine were seized, the president said.
The security forces also seized other drugs, vehicles and cash belonging to drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
"These actions represent losses for criminal organizations of nearly $14.5 billion, allowing the dismantling of their control, cooptation and distribution networks," Calderon said.
The president also touted his achievements in the economic sphere, noting that Mexico's economy managed to post sustained long-term growth for 12 quarters and made it through the worst global financial crisis since 1929.
Mexico's economy achieved accumulated gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 15.13 percent over the past six years despite contracting 6.5 percent in 2009 amid the global economic meltdown, Calderon said.
The country accumulated $159.8 billion in foreign reserves, maintained a manageable public sector deficit, created 5.2 million jobs and drew more than $126 billion in foreign direct investment over the past six years, the president said.
Calderon will be succeeded by the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto, whose victory in the July 1 presidential contest was certified last week by the TEPJF electoral tribunal.
The Congress elected on July 1, meanwhile, held its first session on Saturday.
A total of 416 of the lower house's 500 members and 112 of the 128 senators were present to hear party leaders lay out their legislative agenda's for the 62nd Congress.
The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, will have 207 seats in the lower house and 52 Senate seats, as well as the backing of the Mexican Green Party, or PVEM, whose 34 Chamber of Deputies members and nine senators belong to its coalition.
The lack of a majority, however, will force the PRI to broker alliances to push its proposed energy, fiscal, labor, educational and legal reforms forward. EFE