REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Mexicans' trust in their military and national police has steadily declined since 2007, the first full year of President Felipe Calderon's war against drug cartels, a new Gallup poll says.
The poll released last week also finds that most Mexicans said they felt less safe walking alone at night in 2011 than they did in 2007.
The findings suggest that two key points of perception in Mexico's conflict -- safety and confidence in authorities -- have eroded since the start of the military-led campaign in late 2006.
In the poll, 56% of Mexicans said they didn't feel safe walking alone at night in their city or neighborhood in 2011, in contrast to 57% who said they felt safe walking alone at night in 2007.
The poll shows a steady decline of confidence in the military, from 64% in 2007 to 58% in 2011. Only 38% of respondents expressed confidence in the government in 2011, and 35% said they trusted the federal police, down significantly from 50% in 2007, Gallup reports.
Gallup said it has polled approximately 1,000 Mexican citizens 15 or older, in face-to-face interviews, starting in July 2007.
As Mexico's drug war nears the six-year mark, more than 50,000 people have been killed in related violence and thousands more are missing.
The Gallup poll measures public perceptions of safety and security institutions in Mexico through December. Recent data released by Mexico's national statistics institute, however, indicate that public safety perception has improved as recently as last month.
INEGI, as the institute is known by its Spanish acronym, said its Public Safety Perception Index rose 5.5 points in March 2012 from March 2011 (pdf link in Spanish). The index measures how safe Mexicans feel walking in the area where they live between 4 and 7 p.m.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: Soldiers and federal police inspect a car that police said contains four human heads in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco on March 22. Violence continues in Acapulco as drug gangs battle for control of the region. Credit: Bernandino Hernandez / Associated Press