The president-elect of Mexico referenced “discriminatory” laws in the U.S. today in an interview aired on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” but didn’t single out parties or politicians in his assessment of relations with his northern neighbor.
Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled Mexico for several decades before President Vicente Fox, was confirmed the winner Friday after a partial recount with 38 percent of the vote. Leftist challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who received 32 percent of the vote, is protesting the results, as he did when he lost to President Felipe Calderon six years ago, claiming that the PRI handed out pre-paid gift cards to buy votes.
Conservative candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota, of Calderon and Fox’s National Action Party (PAN), received 25 percent of the vote.
Zakaria asked Peña Nieto for his reaction on “punitive laws that allow the police to check whether or not people are from Mexico or whether they are U.S. citizens, the general atmosphere, the rhetoric you hear coming out of some parts of the Republican Party.”
“Clearly, it seems to me that these are discriminatory laws that don’t recognize the contribution and the value of millions of immigrants, particularly from my country, who make enormous contributions to the United States’ economic development,” Peña Nieto said. “It’s clear to me that Mexico must facilitate conditions for greater economic development through structural reforms, energy reforms, treasury reform, labor reform, in order to generate jobs and greater opportunities in my country, so that immigration is a decision and not a necessity for Mexicans.”
Peña Nieto, governor of the state of Mexico, has been criticized as a pretty face who didn’t come across as especially informed on the campaign trail. He faces the herculean task, though, of reining in Mexico’s drug violence that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in the past six years.
“I’m persuaded that if we achieve the specialization in the work carried out by the various branches of the federal police and the inspector general’s office, waging war on impunity will allow us to combat crime,” he said. “…I do believe we should open up a new debate regarding how to wage war on drug trafficking. Personally, I’m not in favor of legalizing drugs. I’m not persuaded by that as an argument. However, let’s open up a new debate, a review, in which the U.S. plays a fundamental role in conducting this review.”
In terms of the Mexican economy, Peña Nieto told Zakaria that he would “carry out is a treasury reform, which would allow fairer taxation, simplified tax code, and to broaden the tax base, which would strengthen the country’s public finances.”