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Charismatic front-runner in Mexican presidential race vows shift on drugs, trade
Bloody war on drugs takes back seat
Perhaps even more appealing to investors is shale gas, an increasingly vital source of energy in the United States. Tons of it are believed to be trapped in sedimentary rock under Mexico.
“There’s no doubt that what we are extracting in Mexico now is far below the great opportunity that we have with regards to shale gas,” Mr. Pena Nieto said. “The only chance of really utilizing the potential for PEMEX in this area is through private-sector participation.”
The lengths to which Mr. Pena Nieto may be willing to go to generate more U.S. investment in Mexico remain to be seen. But his remarks on certain hot-button issues, specifically immigration, suggest an eagerness not shown in years from this side of the border to seduce U.S. conservatives.
“What we demand from the United States should be congruent with what we are doing toward people from Central America or any other part of the world who come into Mexico, whether they’re passing through on their way to the United States or staying here,” Mr. Pena Nieto said. “There’s a phrase in Mexico that says, ‘Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself.’ “
The old and new PRI
It’s a catchy and pragmatic kind of speak that has come to define the Pena Nieto candidacy in this nation of nearly 115 million people.
The 45-year-old former state governor represents the jewel at the center of a 12-year regrouping by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose old system of top-down politics and patronage controlled the Mexican presidency through most of the 20th century.
Long accused by critics of crony capitalism and corruption, the PRI was ousted from power in 2000 by Vicente Fox and the socially conservative National Action Party (PAN).
Under Mexico’s constitution, presidents serve for single six-year terms.
When PAN candidate Felipe Calderon narrowly claimed victory over leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party in 2006, the PRI finished a distant third.
Long accused of having cut deals with organized criminals during its reign, the party seemed unlikely to re-emerge as the dominant player in 2012.
But Mr. Pena Nieto is a fresh face, and his savvy team of advisers took an early risk in the campaign by betting that a focus on economic growth might carry more weight with drug-war-weary voters than anything else.
“It’s about jobs,” said Emilio Lozoya, Mr. Pena Nieto’s Harvard-educated foreign affairs adviser. “You create economic growth, and you have more and better jobs. That’s what Mexico needs right now. That’s the best way to bring down crime.”
A staggering lead in the polls during recent weeks over PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota and Mr. Lopez Obrador, who is running again, suggests Mexican voters agree.
“The economy is more important than security, and the PRI will bring back economic stability,” said Ricardo Carrillo Bravo, who has operated a shoeshine stall in Mexico City for 22 years.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
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