A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011

Calderón, in interview with New York Times,
highlights job creation, defends drug war

Mexican press highlights statements from excerpts
President says Chapo Guzmán likely in U.S.
PRI calls his statements about it and crime irresponsible, files complaint with IFE

President Felipe Calderón, in an interview with the New York Times, defended the drug war and highlighted job creation in Mexico.

The paper reported that Calderón met with U.S. legislators and discussed the drug issue, and that Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said afterward: "He said the PRI candidate is going to be weak on this issue and sleep in the same bed as the cartels." The paper said the likely Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate and front-runner for president next year, Enrique Peña Nieto, declined to comment, but also pointed out that Peña Nieto's public comments have not indicated he would halt the fight against organized crime.
What Peña Nieto told Reforma about his views on organized crime.

Reforma's story about the interview focused on the published excerpts of the interview and not the New York Times story itself. The headline on the story published in the Tijuana newspaper Frontera said "PRI considers negotiation with narcos: Calderón." Story in Frontera (PDF) In the excerpts, Calderón is quoted as saying: There are many in the PRI who agree with the policy I have, at least they say so in secret, while publicly they may say something else. There are many in the PRI who think the deals of the past would work now."

The PRI harshly criticized Calderón's remarks, and on Tuesday, Oct. 18, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, saying he violated the impartiality the president is supposed to show in electoral matters. The governor of Coahuila state, Enrique Martínez y Martínez, also said the PRI had never negotiated with organized crime. This is a matter of some dispute, however; while noted analyst Luis Rubio says such a pact never existed, many experts says there long was a modus vivendi.
(Links listed in update selection below)

Update, Oct. 20: Columnist Sergio Sarmiento says it is bad for freedom of speech in Mexico to use the IFE to try to censor the president, or anybody else.
His column in Frontera (PDF).

Update, Oct. 18: The paper later published the full transcript of the interview, including a remark that apparently was supposed to be off the record. In that transcript, Calderón says he thinks drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is hiding in the U.S., repeating the oft-said Mexican remarks that there must be many large U.S. drug traffickers that are never captured as well. He spoke about how Guzmán's wife recently gave birth to twins in Los Angeles County.
Previous mention of that birth.

Calderón said he wished he had worked harder earlier on shoring up local and state police forces. He said despite the 40,000 deaths in the nation's drug war, he thought it would have been far worse for the country if the battle had not been taken: "Mexico must be cleaned up, and it is up to me to do it."

He said Mexico is now generating more than 800,000 jobs annually and created more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics during his term, which began in December 2006.
Story, New York Times. Excerpts, New York Times.
Calderón on job creation in early October (Notimex)
The nearly full interview in Spanish.

Update, Oct. 17: PRI says Calderón's statements were irresponsible (PDF).
Update, Oct. 18: Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora says there has been an overreaction to the interview. Story, Frontera (PDF)
Update, Oct. 19: PRI files complaint with IFE over Calderón's remarks (PDF).
Coahuila governor says PRI never pacted with traffickers (PDF). Jump page.