Peña Nieto assures U.S. officials he will press on with the drug fight and forge ahead with implementation of the $2 billion security assistance package from Washington known as the Merida Initiative.

But he has also sent the message that his administration wants its relationship with the United States to be about more than drugs, said Eric Olson, a Mexico scholar at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“The question is: In doing that, does the urgency of dealing with security issues fall off the agenda?” Olson said. “Or the urgency of judicial reform, modernizing the police and reforming the prison system?”

“He’s walking a fine line,” he said.

The more discreet violence is giving the new administration a chance to talk publicly about other issues — something that isn’t possible when authorities are busy cleaning up after a mass murder or political assassination.

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